Beginning in 1881, and extending up through 1906, the American newspaper writer and noted cynic Ambrose Bierce compiled what he called The Devil’s Dictionary. It contained wry and sometimes humorous, but always cynical, definitions of words and phrases. The copyright has long since expired, and the entire slim volume can be found at no cost on a number of internet sites.

Bierce suggested his definitions were what people really meant in practice, as opposed to the formal dictionary definitions of the same terms.

One of my favorites is his definition of “bigot.” He wrote that it means “[o]ne who is obstinately and zealously attached to an opinion you do not entertain.”

Although Bierce wrote this definition well over 100 years ago, the mentality that inspired his biting definition is very much with us. This column will offer some examples of how our political left really defines some terms commonly in use, even though the copy of “Webster’s” on your desk won’t include them.

The views expressed in the definitions that follow are not my own. But to enhance readability, I’ve omitted quotation marks.

CLIMATE CHANGE DENIER – A stupid and evil person, regardless of whether he or she simply questions climate change “science” or the remedies prescribed by the Green New Deal.

FREE SPEECH – An archaic concept invented by dead white men, many of whom were slave holders, in the closing years of the 18th Century, and placed in the First Amendment to our generally archaic and outmoded Constitution. Those who advocate free speech are mis-guided or evil because they would allow it to include hate speech.

HATE SPEECH – Anything with which I intensely disagree, especially if it is at all critical of anyone who is a member of an ethnic minority, a Muslim, or a female, but only if the person criticized is leftist or progressive. It does not include anything bad said about a Republican, conservative, or a supporter of Israel, regardless of race, gender, or religion. Invective hurled at Marsha Blackburn is not hate speech. But anything critical of Ilhan Omar definitely is.

HATE GROUP – Any group or association that is not progressive, or that supports Israel. The Family Research Council is a hate group. So is the Alliance Defending Freedom. But Antifa is not. If you don’t believe it, ask the Southern Poverty Law Center.

IDEALIST – Anyone who advocates an extreme left-wing position, no matter how looney. It does not apply to conservatives or libertarians. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders are idealists. Rand Paul is not.

ISLAMOPHOBE – Anyone who is pro-Israel or who is concerned about radical Islamic terrorism (which doesn’t exist anyway). Jews are presumptively islamophobes.

JUSTICE – The result achieved by implementing leftist or progressive policy, whether legislatively or judicially. Justice is achieved in Court if we “believe women”, regardless of other evidence. Unless, of course, the woman is Laura Ingraham or Amy Comey Barrett. That’s different.

RACIST – Anyone on the political right, especially if he or she is of European descent. African American conservatives are a special case. They can’t be racist because they are not white. It’s best to ignore them because we don’t know how to classify them.

WHITE PRIVILEGE – An inherent characteristic of all white people, including low income and working class whites. Urban progressive elites who have the actual privileges of wealth and position have white privilege, too, if they are white. But they’re okay because they vote and give money correctly. It’s not necessary to do anything about their other privileges.

WHITE SUPREMACIST – Any white conservative Republican. Ted Cruz is a white supremacist even though he is of Cuban descent. Irish descended Robert Francis (Beto) O’Rourke is not because he is a progressive Democrat. Don’t ask us about Ben Carson. (See “racist”, above.)

If anyone thinks I am exaggerating, I recommend that he or she read or watch the news. There are multiple instances of the above terms being used exactly as I’ve described. They are all over CNN and MSNBC, and not uncommon in Congress.

Perhaps the biggest problem with painting with the broad brush-strokes of the present Left is that it removes judgment and provides cover for the true bad actors. There are real racists out there (not all of them white). Some people – a tiny minority, I’m convinced — really are white supremacists, and they are scary people. But expanding the definition to include almost everyone white enables the real racists to hide.

If we are urged to believe all women, including the ones who are patently lying, how are the ones who are telling the truth distinguish themselves? In this way, real victims are trivialized. By the same token, climate change is probably real. But if everyone who is skeptical of draconian and prohibitively expensive solutions is called an evil “denier”, how does that aid the search for realistic measures?
The lexicon I have just described may sound funny, but in practice, it does much harm. It should be recognized for the small-minded smear it really is.

****

Photo by Michell Zappa