By LCDR Brent Henderson, US Navy veteran, nuclear submarines
Writes “The Truth Is Out There” Substack
I have to laugh every time I hear a Democrat exclaim that Donald Trump is a threat to “our democracy.”
“Our democracy” has become a politicized term, a secret code, or perhaps a “dogwhistle” of leftist ideologues. We’re meant to assume that what’s under threat is the representative, republican form of democracy that is foundational to America. What’s known in political science as “popular sovereignty.” The rule of the people.
Of course, we know that “our democracy” is not THAT democracy.
I recently came across the most accurate and succinct definition of “our democracy” I’ve seen: “The uninterrupted rule of the managerial elite, and the undiluted supremacy of their ideological values.”
In other words, our democracy is equivalent to the ruling oligarchy. Aka, the swamp. Aka the regulatory state.
Sir Roger Scruton, the conservative British philosopher who, sadly, passed away in 2020, would identify “our democracy” as an example of “Newspeak,” the term introduced by George Orwell in his great novel depicting a totalitarian state, 1984.
In his book Fools, Frauds and Firebrands: Thinkers of the New Left Scruton explains:
“Newspeak occurs whenever the primary purpose of language — which is to describe reality — is replaced by the rival purpose of asserting power over it [reality]. . .
Newspeak developed its own special syntax, which — while closely related to the syntax deployed in ordinary descriptions — carefully avoids any encounter with reality or any exposure to the logic of rational argument. Francoise Thom has argued this in her brilliant study La langue de bois.
The purpose of communist Newspeak in Thom’s ironical words, has been ‘to protect ideology from the malicious attacks of real things.’”
Yesterday’s Communists and todays Leftists suffer from the delusion that you can change reality by changing the words we use. This is doomed to failure.
As Steven Pinker points out in The Language Instinct, words do not control thought — they are an expression of it. Thoughts and concepts that we collectively use to describe reality, will not cease to exist because we are forced to use different words to describe it, or if commonly understood definitions are changed.
However, Newspeak can confuse us for a time.
So I’d like to provide a short dictionary of modern terms in which I compare the actual meanings of words and terms against what the Left has told us they mean. My reference for traditional definitions will be Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary, published in 1965.
Gay: 1. Happily excited: merry 2. Bright, Lively; brilliant in color 3. Given to social pleasures; also licentious.
Today the word “gay” is a euphemism for male homosexuals. It begs us to consider homosexual men as somehow more “happily excited,” or more “merry” than the rest of us, and therefore to be admired or even envied.
It’s one of the words I feel has been stolen from us by the Left. Should someone ask you how your doing, you cannot answer “Oh, I’m feeling quite gay (happily excited or merry.) A party is no longer “gay” unless the attendees are homosexual men.
So I refuse to use “gay” as the Left requires us to — I will always refer to homosexual men as what they are — homosexual men.
Racism: 1. A belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce inherent superiority of a particular race.
Thus a classically defined racist would be someone who believes all white people are superior to all black people. No exceptions. Racism was actually considered a scientific fact right up to the time of WW II.
But today, blacks have demonstrated that racism is false. From black soldiers and airmen who fought in exemplary fashion during WW II to black athletes, black politicians, black lawyers and judges, black doctors, and more — we know today that black men and women can function at the highest level in every field of human endeavor.
So genuine racism is dead.
Ah, but the Left cannot allow racism to die. Since the American people cannot be divided up between the working class and the bourgeoisie, the revolutionaries must divide some other way, and race is what they’ve chosen.
Thus racism must be redefined. Today, what was called prejudice or discrimination during the Civil Rights movement has been redefined as racism. This allows anyone who, for example, might say “I think Barrack Obama was a terrible president” to be called a racist.
Nobody wants to be pegged a racist, it’s much more powerful than being called prejudiced, but today you might be considered a racist if you try to make the case that Larry Bird was a better basketball player than Magic Johnson.
Gender: 1. Sex
In the past there was no distinction between gender and sex, with the word gender seldom used unless referring to the male/female “gendering “ of some languages such as Spanish.
Today the left has invented a clear dichotomy between sex and gender. Sex refers to the genitalia you were born with. Gender is a cultural construct that you can choose.
Thus if your “sex at birth” is female, but you are uncomfortable with this, you can reject the “female gender” — the cultural constructs around femaleness — and adopt a male gender. Or any of some 60 or more “genders” that have been invented to further confuse the issue.
This gives transgender activists a fig leaf to use as cover. They’re not saying you can change your sex, but you can change your gender.
Nevertheless, permission to switch genders involves destroying your sexual nature in the attempt to appear as the opposite sex. The two concepts cannot be effectively separated in any meaningful way.
Liberal: The root of this word is from Latin: liberalis, suitable for a freeman, generous. 1. Of, relating to, or based on the liberal arts. 2. Marked by generosity and openhandedness 3. Lacking moral restraint; licentious 5. Broad-minded, tolerant.
The “classical liberal” was one who opposed monarchy, who believed human rights were God-given and that the purpose of government was to secure those rights; who believed in free markets and all other forms of freedom.
But gradually, over many years, we began calling Democrats “liberals.” Obviously, this is a big misnomer in our current political climate. That’s why I always use the term “the Left.”
Roger Scruton provides the most accurate definition of “the Left” when he writes:
“Leftists believe . . . that the goods of this world are unjustly distributed, and that the fault lies not in human nature but in usurpations practiced by a dominant class. They define themselves in opposition to established power, the champions of a new order that will rectify the ancient grievance of the oppressed.”
To accomplish this, the American Left, in the same manner as it’s communist predecessors, has set out to destroy our true, liberal democracy and replace it with a totalitarian, socialist state.
This misnaming causes a lot of confusion — scholars who lived under Communist rule in Eastern Europe see a great deal of similarity between the Communists they had to deal with and today’s American liberals. They just haven’t realized that the definition of liberal has shifted.
Fascism: 2. A political philosophy, movement or regime that exalts nation and race and stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.
In this case, the dictionary definition isn’t satisfactory for discussing the long, rich history of misunderstanding and misuse of this term.
There is so much to talk about that Jonah Goldberg has written an entire book on the subject: Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, from Mussolini to the Politics of Change.
As Goldberg says: “Ask the average, reasonably educated person what comes to mind when she hears the word “fascism” and the immediate responses are “dictatorship,” “genocide,” “anti-Semitism,” “racism,” and (of course) “right wing.”
Thus the Left uses “fascist” as a general purpose epithet for conservatives of every stripe, fundamentalist Christians, and anyone else they don’t like. But fascism is always a conservative creature.
All that flies in the face of actual history.
Benito Mussolini was a socialist who invented the term Fascist in 1920 to describe his dictatorship. His worst sin was sending his Communist opposition to prison, and then allying himself with Hitler and Germany. Even this alliance wasn’t a problem until Hitler abrogated the non-aggression treaty of 1939 and attacked Russia.
It was around this time that Stalin stumbled on a brilliant tactic of simply labeling all inconvenient ideas and movements fascist.
Socialists and progressives aligned with Moscow were called socialists or progressives, while socialists disloyal or opposed to Moscow were called fascists.
Here is Goldberg’s working definition of fascism:
Fascism is a religion of the state. It assumes the organic unity of the body politic and longs for a national leader attuned to the will of the people.
It is totalitarian in that it views everything as political and holds that any action by the state is justified to achieve the common good.
It takes responsibility for all aspects of life, including our health and well-being, and seeks to impose uniformity of thought and action, whether by force or through regulation and social pressure.
Everything, including the economy and religion, must be aligned with its objectives. And rival identity is part of the “problem” and therefore defined as the enemy.
I will argue that contemporary American liberalism embodies all of these aspects of fascism.
Bottom line, fascism is a political philosophy of the Left.
Torture: 1. The infliction of intense pain (as from burning, crushing or wounding) to punish, coerce or afford sadistic pleasure. 3. Distortion or over refinement of a meaning or an argument: straining.
Remember during the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks when the Left accused the Bush administration of torturing captured terrorists? To do that they had to literally “torture” the definition of torture by including things that do not “inflict intense pain.”
Water-boarding, for example, makes a person feel very uncomfortable, but not much pain involved. Loud, obnoxious music? Unpleasant but not painful. Humiliation such as being made to wear women’s undergarments? Not painful.
Of course, we can argue over the effectiveness of any of these tactics, and whether or not a modern, liberal democracy that upholds human rights ought to engage in enhanced interrogation techniques.
I would argue that we must used effective interrogation methods when faced with an enemy that places no value on human life, much less human rights, and that redefining torture to exclude enhanced interrogation is self defeating.
But the Left was largely successful in expanding the definition of torture to include all sorts of enhanced interrogation techniques. Let’s hope future defense efforts are not hampered by attempting to adhere to this new definition.
Science: 1 a: Possession of knowledge as distinguished from ignorance or misunderstanding b : knowledge attained through study or practice. 2 a: a department of systematized knowledge as an object of study.
My dictionary omits a description of the scientific method, which is how we acquire knowledge we can feel confident about. Also, knowledge is always subject to revision as we collect more data about a subject.
The Left, however, defines science as an omniscient oracle which is the fount of all knowledge and wisdom. This was especially apparent during the COVID pandemic when Anthony Fauci told us that any criticism of him was actually criticism of science because he represented science. And what kind of fool these days would question science?
But we must learn to be suspicious whenever the Left claims that their policies are supported by science.
Why? Well, even when science clearly falsifies their issues, they don’t change their minds. In their minds science is the “thing” that only supports what they believe — it never contradicts them.
This is a euphemism the Left uses for abortion. It has nothing to do with a woman’s health, but a lot to do with the health of an unborn child. In fact, it’s deadly to an unborn child.
Diversity 1. The condition of being different or having differences.
The Left has redefined this term to mean racial differences only.
When I was working at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission we celebrated “Diversity Day.” This involved honoring in some way all the racially diverse people working there.
The Left’s favorite way to celebrate diversity is by serving food from different cultures, as if this were a surrogate for the alleged value of diversity.
But the NRC is a technical agency, and all our important jobs required engineering or scientific expertise. And our focus was on safety, basically reducing risk from commercial use of radioactive materials.
So, being a contrarian, I would ask during “diversity day” why, if we wanted real diversity, didn’t we hire some English majors and employ some folks who favored taking big risks.
This is, of course, absurd.
The NRC must have technically trained engineers and scientists. Whether they are black, brown, Chinese, Indians, or other racially diverse people is irrelevant.
It’s the same with business, sports and all human endeavors.
Imagine a truly diverse football team — that would mean the team includes not just men who are young, fast, strong, aggressive, and athletic but also old, slow weak ,and unathletic men. Silly — right?
Equity 1a: Justice according to natural law or right; specifically impartiality b: something that is equitable.
Equity has been redefined to distinguish today’s political goals from equality.
Remember back in the Civil Rights days we were concerned with Equal Rights. That is, blacks must be afforded equal opportunity and equal rights under the law. In the U.S. equality means we are all equal before God and before the law.
Obviously, arbitrarily excluding all blacks from schools and professions does not bestow equal rights or equal opportunity. That all changed in the mid 1960s with passage of Civil Rights legislation.
Unfortunately, in the 60 years since the Civil Rights Movement, blacks have not achieved, in general, equal outcomes in terms of wealth and prestige.
There are plenty of examples of black people who are wealthy and hold prestigious and influential positions in business, government and throughout our society.
But not enough, according to the Left. And so we have the concept of equity.
The notion of equity has been invented to create equal outcomes by any means necessary.
The Left is committed to the belief that racism and discrimination are still rampant in the U.S. and are the only possible explanations for why blacks are disproportionally mired in poverty.
They are working toward equity, at the expense of equality, so we shouldn’t be fooled.
Justice 1 a: the maintenance or administration of what is just, especially by the impartial adjustment of conflicting claims or the assignment of merited rewards or punishment.
This is very close to the classical definition of justice, which is one of the cardinal virtues.
The ancient concept is that everyone gets what he/she deserves. Thus when a murderer is convicted, justice demands that he/she be executed or spend their life in prison.
Also, when a soldier displays great courage and sacrifice, justice demands they be honored appropriately.
Justice, however has been re-defined by the Left to mean everyone should get roughly the same rewards regardless of merit.
The term “social justice,” or “social justice warrior,” employs this twisted definition.
Recall Roger Scruton’s definition of the Left as the belief that “the goods of this world are unjustly distributed” and that happens only because of greedy rich people. Thus the poor are just as deserving as anyone else. “Social Justice Warriors” work to correct what they perceive as injustice.
In general, however, most of us get pretty much what we deserve.
Yes, a few folks get rich who don’t deserve it, but generally the Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Elon Musks of the world work harder, have more knowledge and insight, and produce more wealth for society than those of us who occupy the middle class.
And those who are mired in poverty and misery are generally those who suffer from addiction or other debilitating problems.
Any attempt to override the operation of true justice is creating bigger problems that, in all likelihood will result in all of us being poor.
And that would be justice if we fall for that kind of false thinking.
I’m going to stop there. If you have a favorite word or concept that has been redefined by the Left that I haven’t included — I’m sure there are many — please let me know in the comments section.
Read more of his essays on his “The Truth Is Out There” Substack