Glossary: Key memes, counterfactuals, dog whistles, canards, euphemisms, innuendoes, insinuations, fake outrages, and obsessions in The Wall Street Journal and other GOP language factories and fever swamps, Oct 7-13, 2017

implicit bias

rhetorical claim: the implicit bias theory, which argues that 90 percent of white people are prejudiced against blacks, has removed the concept of individual agency from law. The need to plumb the unconscious to explain racial gaps arises for one reason: It is taboo to acknowledge that socioeconomic disparities might be caused by intergroup differences in cultural values, family structure, interests or abilities. The large racial gap in academic skills renders preposterous any expectation that, absent bias, blacks and whites would be proportionally represented in the workplace. And vast differences in criminal offending are sufficient to explain racial disparities in incarceration rates. 

rhetorical effect: establishes the “reality” that blacks are disadvantaged relative to whites because blacks are inherently inferior and immoral. (see “bourgeois norms”, below.) Basically argues that there is no such things as implicit bias, but, oif there was such a thing, it would be justifiably based on reality.



rhetorical claim: the Harvey Weinstein cover-up reveals the hypocrisy of progressives and Hollywood liberals, whose false self-righteousness justifies their war on American norms and values.

rhetorical effect: self-righteously equates any progressive moral claims with sanctimonious hypocrisy, im[lying that progressives have no moral foundation and certainly no righteousness.


bourgeois norms

rhetorical claim: the race grievance industry falsely claims that what constitutes “normal” is different for whites and blacks. They make the racist claim that white “bourgeois norms” are an offense against black culture. In other words, they argue that blacks should not be held to standards of personal responsibility, self-restraint, delayed gratification, marriage, and a strong work ethic. As usual, black critics are the real racists.

rhetorical effect: distorts serious black criticism of what moral values by making morality synonymous with being white; marginalizes any criticism of white culture as uncivilized; overtly links blackness to laziness, sexual promiscuity and irresponsibility.


sincerely-held religious beliefs

rhetorical claim: companies or organizations with sincerely-held religious or moral beliefs against birth control should not be forced to cover contraception in their health insurance policies. health. The Trump administration’s new policy on excluding contraceptive coverage from insurance coverage was, according to Paul  Ryan, ” a great day for religious liberty”.

rhetorical effect: It was not a great day for the liberty of women who sincerely believe in birth control.  As Gail Collins re-framed the issue:

It was a tough day for the First Amendment, for the people who’ve been struggling to make unwanted pregnancies, and abortion, as rare as possible.

It worked really well, though, for the hypocrites who want to kowtow to the religious right without any concern for the inevitable consequences.

This phrase is not about deeply-held moral and religious beliefs–which art not being challenged–but, rather, the right to impose those beliefs on non-believers. It was an unforgiving assault on freedom of choice. Sincerity is not a trump card, so to speak, that can be used to deny the rights of others. After all, white supremacists can’t discriminate against non-whites just because they sincerely believe non-whites are inferior to them.


principled entrepreneurship

rhetorical claim: business is not the enemy of ethics, and the free market has a moral dimension. The best expression of this may be he Koch Foundation’s definition of “principled entrepreneurship”:

A principled entrepreneur:

1. Makes decisions in the long-run best interest of the company based on facts, reality, and reason.
2. Creates win-win relationships with both customers and suppliers, engaging in exchanges that are in both the long-run best interests of the company and the customers and suppliers; and trading value for value in the marketplace.
3. Manages their employees in a manner that rewards productivity, holds people accountable and responsible, encourages independent thinking, and fosters teamwork and mutual respect.
4. Conducts business relationships with honesty, integrity, and lives up to the promises they make and contracts they enter into.
5. Respects and competes with other businesses in the marketplace by providing customers with higher value at lower costs.

A principled entrepreneur does not:
1. Seek to gain an advantage over their competition by using or supporting government policies that restrict competition in the marketplace or harm their competitors.
2. Seek or accept government subsidies or bailouts as the route to business success or survival.
3. Evade the facts of reality when making decisions.
4. Attempt to take advantage of their customers or suppliers, engage in deception or fraud, nor pursues short-run profits at the detriment of the long-run best interest of the company

rhetorical effect: eliminates all government regulation over businesses. Defines Social Darwinism–a zero-sum, winner-take-all struggle–as the basic “fact of reality.”


judging political bias

rhetorical claim: Judges should not be involved in drawing state electoral borders because  gerrymandering is a political act and human judges will always lose their credibility when they inevitably act with political bias. Inherent political controversies such as redistricting  are best resolved by the political process. Proportional representation would lead to a European-style Congressional makeup, a perfect recipe for identity politics and gridlock.

rhetorical effect: makes it impossible to even legally challenge racially discriminatory, and maintains the US as a permanent  non-majority government. Baldly partisan redistricting. Shifts the analytical focus from outcomes (de facto segregation) to processes. After all, the GOP is not shy about accepting favorable Supreme Court opinions. Playing the “European” card is an always-reliable way to discredit a policy they don’t like, since Europe seems to be politically toxic, in the same way Nancy Pelosi is.


honoring the Confederacy

rhetorical claim: the Dems’ demanding the removal of Confederate statues are dishonoring America’s past and ignoring our history.

rhetorical effect: the upside-downness of this is astonishing, As Frank Bruni puts it, “Funny how people who accuse their rivals of being unpatriotic worship men who engaged in armed rebellion against the United States”.


Black Identity Extremists (BIE)

rhetorical claim: Amid a rancorous debate over whether the Trump administration has downplayed the threat posed by white supremacist groups, the FBI’s counterterrorism division has declared that black identity extremists pose a growing threat of premeditated violence against law enforcement.

“The FBI assesses it is very likely Black Identity Extremist (BIE) perceptions of police brutality against African-Americans spurred an increase in premeditated, retaliatory lethal violence against law enforcement and will very likely serve as justification for such violence,” reads the report, marked for official use only and obtained by Foreign Policy

rhetorical effect: As expressed in The Daily Kos:

While this is isn’t new, it is incredibly scary and we should remain very vigilant. This has important implications as to how the Trump administration plans to carry out a program to demonize and target black activists—and activists of color more broadly. With Jeff Sessions at the Justice Department, who knows what kind of laws they’ll come up (or even break) to surveil and jail folks? It’s also yet another demonstration of their clear commitment to advancing a white nationalist agenda. So far they’ve identified Muslims as a terrorist group, identified Latino immigrants as a threat and now blacks. Who’s next?


the war on coal

rhetorical claim: by repealing the Clean Power Act, EPA head Scott Pruitt has ended the War on Coal.

rhetorical effect: deepens the war on the planet and public health.