Monday, December 19, 2011

Language Matters: Liberal Environmental Hysteria!!!

It really struck me during the most recent debate of the GOP presidential candidates that there is no surer way to throw red meat to a Republican crowd than to attack those who would defend the environment against drillers and miners or any other business interests.  Here, from that Fox News Sioux City debate, was temporary-frontrunner Newt Gingrich in the middle of a rant about opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline:
"... and the president of the United States cannot figure out that it is – I’m using mild words here – utterly irrational to say I’m now going to veto a middle-class tax cut to protect left-wing environmental extremists in San Francisco, so that we’re going to kill American jobs, weaken American energy, make us more vulnerable to the Iranians and do so in a way that makes no sense to any normal, rational American." sidebar  12/19/2011

Newt's "left-wing environmental extremists in San Francisco" came to mind just now when I was looking at my blog and ran across the attached selection of articles with the keyword "liberal" selected by Google for the sidebar. "Liberal Insanity on Light Bulbs" from the Washington Examiner and "Keystone XL: Liberal Histrionics Answered" from Forbes are not at all uncommon uses of  "liberal" as an adjective in the center-right press. Look back at Newt's quote and see how he ends his rant with an appeal to the common sense of  "any normal, rational American."  You don't have to search far in the right-wing and mainstream media to find the same opposition between "insane," "hysterical," "histrionic," "left-wing," "liberal," "extremist" defenders of the environment and those level-headed, normal, rational, mainstream defenders of the bottom line and real (i.e., monetary) concerns over anything that might seem squishy or fuzzy-headed.

We can all see how the GOP is purposely using and abusing the language in a Luntzian manner (and being parroted by a lazy press), but I still can't -- on any emotional level -- understand why anyone, even Tea Partiers, would have the same visceral reaction against environmentalists that the Occupiers have against the billionaires hanging onto their low tax rates as a birthright. I don't have a lot of understanding for other red-meat conservative issues (executions, torture, anti-gay prejudice) either; maybe it's just because I don't eat red (or any other color of) meat.   And that's an environmental issue too.

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