Jewish World Review June 25, 2004/ 6 Tamuz, 5764

Greg Crosby

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What's the matter, ya chicken? | Remember when you were in elementary school and kids would call other kids "chicken" when they tried to get them to do something that they didn't want to do. If a kid didn't want to play dodge ball, he was "chicken." If he didn't want to throw spitballs or cut school he was "chicken." Name-calling was a way for some kids to shame other kids into doing something they ordinarily wouldn't do on their own. Words can be powerful convincers, and name-calling really does work on many people - after all who wants to be thought of as "chicken?" It's more than name-calling - I call it shame-calling.

Shame-calling isn't just for kids anymore -it is alive and well with some segments of adult society. Liberals learned their grade school lessons well it seems and have adapted this adolescent approach of shame-calling against basically anyone who doesn't agree with them. I single out the Left and the Liberals on this one because I really can't come up with any examples of it from the Right. In the 50's and 60's the Right used the terms "pinko" and "commie" for left-wingers, but that's about as far as it went. The Left in our society has taken name-calling shame to new heights.

If you are against same-sex marriage you are called "homophobic." If you are not in favor of federally-funded abortions, you are considered to be "anti-woman." If you don't go along with the views espoused by the National Association of Women, then you are a "sexist." If you do not support gun control then you are a "red-neck cowboy." If you find fault with cross-dressing transgender people who demand to be allowed to dress anyway they want in the workplace, then you are "intolerant."

If you want less federal government in your life, if you want to pay less tax, then you are part of the "privileged class," the "radical rich." If you believe in the importance of keeping and honoring America's Judeo-Christian history and values, then you are a "religious zealot." If you want healthy, strong adults to get off welfare and go to work, you are "mean-spirited."

If you are patriotic and wave the flag, you are "jingoistic and stupid." If you support the war in the Middle East, you are an "imperialist." If you complain about the vulgarity present today in so much of our culture you are a "totalitarian" censoring free speech. If you would like the feds to cut back on government programs then you are "hate-filled."

The favorite name by far of the shame-calling Left is "racist." If you oppose bilingual education, then you are a racist. If you oppose affirmative action, you are a racist. If you think that airport security should focus on Middle Eastern men in their twenties as opposed to Scandinavian senior citizens, then you support racial-profiling and you must be a racist. If you don't like Hip-hop rap music, you are a racist. If you think O.J. did it, you are a racist. In short, anytime you oppose a minority group opinion on anything, you are racist.

Racist, homophobe, sexist, mean-spirited, intolerant, religious zealot, cowboy, red-neck, stupid, hate-filled. How many of those names have been used by the Left to describe George W. Bush? How about all of them! How many of those names have been used to describe President Reagan? Same answer. I guess for the Left, when it comes to Republicans they're all the same.

But to get back to my point, (and I do have one) the name-calling tactics engaged in by the Left are supposed to shame people into changing their beliefs - and it often works. Just as no kid wants to be thought of as a "chicken" to his friends, no decent person wants to be labeled as "intolerant" to society as a whole. No one wants to be a racist. No one wants to be mean-spirited. As I said, names are powerful.

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Even the name "Liberal" sounds better than being thought of as "Conservative." Liberal sounds like youth and freedom. Conservative sounds restrictive and old. Consider the actual dictionary definition of Liberal: "Open to new ideas; tolerant and board-minded; tending to give freely; generous. Free from bigotry."

So if a Conservative is the political opposite of a liberal, then literally, by definition, he is not open to new ideas; intolerant and narrow-minded; tends to be selfish; and is a bigot. What horrible people these Conservatives must be. Who wants to be one of those?

Of course, this is a wrong-headed, simplistic characterization of the two labels, but many people don't have the time or the inclination to get into the more subtle aspects of these political philosophies. They take what they hear on network TV and read in newspaper headlines as being true, and they dig no deeper. A nasty one-liner bashing President Bush uttered off the cuff by Julia Roberts or George Clooney will have a greater impact with more folks than an analytical essay that examines the facts. The name-calling by celebrities works wonders.

It isn't easy to be Conservative in today's society when most of the people working in the press and the entertainment industry (the two organizations that, arguably, shape America's cultural views more than any other) are staunch Liberals. Easier to just "go along with the times" (like the New York Times or the Los Angeles Times). But easy isn't always right. And popular isn't always right. It takes a great deal of courage to be a Conservative - dare I say it, you can't be "chicken."

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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California, you may contact him by clicking here.

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