Puns and Propaganda Campaigns: The Right Arms Language Against Us


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In the 1978 classic The genius (aka The “Black” Wizard of Oz), there’s a sequence where Dorothy, Tin Man, Lion, and Scarecrow arrive in Emerald City that features lots of glamorous dancers twirling around and singing the praises of the color green. The color was chosen by the “Wiz” himself, and it changes according to his whim. Indeed, in this seven-minute sequence, we see him quickly change his mind and change the color from green to red to gold. Anyone caught wearing the other colors is bad, and only people wearing the current color are good.

Apart from being a fantastic musical number, it also reminds me of the current state of affairs with those on the right.

You see, those on the right engaged in a word game that led them to redefine words and phrases to suit their various propaganda campaigns. Three very strong examples that come to mind are the word “woke” and the phrases “critical race theory” and “quit smoking quietly”. Stick with me and I’ll explain what I mean.

The bastardization of the “awakened”

Remember when being “awake” was considered a good thing? The word was originally used in the black community as part of the phrase “stay woke”, which was intended to encourage black people to be aware of what was happening around them politically and socially in regards to racism and white supremacy. It meant being socially conscious, and it evolved to extend to white Americans who apparently understood the mission and were good allies.

In the more recent past, the right has turned the word woke into a pejorative and used it to classify anyone with leftist ideologies and sympathies. They use the word to criticize anyone who has thoughts and ideas that run counter to the GOP agenda. If you’re pro-choice, you’re “woke,” and that’s a bad thing. The live-action version of The little Mermaid casting a black actress to play Ariel is “too wide awake” for some whites. New the Lord of the Rings and game of thrones spin-off series including black characters in their stories is a result of ‘woke’ culture.

It’s not-so-coded language to hide what’s behind it all: racism and white supremacy.

See, these people can’t just say “We’re racists and we’re against black inclusion in things” because then everyone would be like “WHOA. YOU ARE ALL RACISTS.

Instead, they turn the people doing the work into bad guys. So you are wrong if you want to be inclusive. You are wrong if you speak out against racial injustice. If you’re not standing up for white supremacy, then you’re too wide awake for your own good. At least, that’s how they want you to see it.

This is what happens when the language is bastard.

Critical race theory is not the boogeyman

Look what they’ve done with the phrase “critical race theory.” They took him and turned him into a horror monster that scares kids, making white kids feel like they’re the devil and responsible for all the bad and making black kids feel like they’re inferior to all others.

This is the narrative that the right has been spinning as they take what is a legitimate study of American history, politics, economics and everything else and how racism and supremacy may have helped shape some of the laws, rules and policies that we follow to date. daytime.

At first glance, critical race theory does not aim to harm anyone; rather, it is a way of looking at things so that equitable change can be made.

But because the law is not there for fairness or change or equitable change, and because they don’t want to admit that this country still enforces many of the policies born out of the institution of slavery, they took that phrase, turned it around, and redefined it to fit their own agenda and propaganda campaign.

They used critical race theory as a catch phrase to demonize anything that could possibly make people aware (or “wake them up” if you will) that as much as the United States of America wants to pretend to be so progressive and fair, it’s really still a white man’s fantasy land where you have to be tight and white to move forward without any barriers.

Suddenly, teaching the accurate history of the United States – including discussing the institution of slavery, the civil rights movement, and anything to do with racism – was very wrong. It will make white children and their parents uncomfortable, and we don’t need it, so get rid of this “critical race theory.”

And again, it bears repeating that none of what they called a “critical race theory” was actually a critical race theory, but a lie doesn’t care who tells it. , and it will circle the world a million times before the truth even comes out. shoes.

And as we all know, whoever tells their side of the story first is usually the one we believe, right? At least that’s how it works in this country.

There is no “silent stop”

One of the most blatant “Orwellian Newspeak” (word to Erica Jong) campaigns that we have witnessed in recent history is the whole “quiet stopsaga is now happening in the media.

Articles come out every day about this strange phenomenon called “silent shutdown”.

What is silent surrender, you ask? Fundamentally, it’s the idea that workers no longer go above and beyond their job descriptions at work. They don’t stay late. They don’t skip lunch. They don’t take work home. They don’t do more than what is required of them and what they are paid for.

Workers have decided to set limits and no longer allow themselves to be taken advantage of by employers who would like them to do more than they are paid for without giving them the extra money to do so.

In this capitalist society, you know that’s a problem for the employers because they want to get the most out of the workers. You can’t have workers here setting boundaries willy-nilly! So what are you doing?

You create an expression like “quietly quit”, which isn’t really about quitting because no one quit their job. In fact, people are still doing their job; they just don’t give up the supplement for free. It is important to note that the phrase “quit quietly” is intended to demonize those who set these limits for themselves.

Employers want others to see you negatively if you don’t let them take advantage of you. Isn’t that something?

None of this would be so bad if the American media were not largely complicit in these propaganda campaigns.

When your media organization uses these phrases over and over again without explaining that they are not real and the words and phrases are misused, then they are part of the problem. Just like when we were in high school, repetition drives things into people’s heads.

The media repeating these phrases without any kind of pushback helps propaganda campaigns because the largely illiterate media audience will not take the time to sort out what is real and what is not; they depend on the media to do it for them.

So if the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times repeat these phrases without any explanation and use them in the context that the right is using them, they are contributing to the spread of misinformation, and that’s bad for us. all .

Please pay attention to the language. Please be aware of how those in power use language to their advantage.

Please remember that when all else fails they will demonize the good so they can continue to spread their evil.

Words have power, and words mean things.

Let’s all do better in this regard.

Monique Judge

Monique Judge is a storyteller, content creator and writer living in Los Angeles. She’s a word geek who’s a fan of the Oxford comma, spends way too much time on Twitter, and has more graphic t-shirts than you. Follow her on Twitter @thejournalista or check her out on moniquejuge.com.

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