I regret to inform you that Republicans have done it again. They’ve gone and pounced, this time regarding the use of language in politics.
According to CNN, conservative Republicans have mastered the art of “verbal jiu-jitsu.”
Republicans are masters of verbal jiu-jitsu. It’s a form of linguistic combat in which the practitioner takes a political phrase or concept popularized by their opponent and gradually turns into an unusable slur. Like the Japanese martial art known as jiu-jitsu, its devotees avoid taking opposing arguments head on and instead redirect their opponents’ momentum to beat them.
If this sounds abstract, consider the evolution of “ woke.” The word is defined as being “actively aware of social injustice.” But it has been transformed into a contemporary scourge, one that a politician compared to a “virus more dangerous than any pandemic, hands down.”
As someone who writes about politics every single day, I can firmly say that the above allegation is completely false. “Woke” has not been transformed into anything. Rather, Republicans use it to mean exactly what liberals denoted it to mean in the first place, which is being “actively aware of social injustice.” The mockery comes in when you consider that Democrats attempt to turn everything into a battle over supposed social injustice. That’s on them, not those of us who point out the wokeness of that pursuit.
For example, a conservative would call transgender ideology “woke.” Why? Because the battle over transgenderism was started by Democrats as yet another facet of supposed social injustice. Where’s the “verbal jiu-jitsu” in that?
Mention almost any touchstone phrase adopted by the left in recent years — “critical race theory,” “diversity,” “global warming,” even the word “liberal” itself — and it has been redefined or tarnished by conservatives.
Have they? Because again, I’m pretty sure conservatives use all those terms and phrases within the same meaning that liberals assign to them. Besides, isn’t it liberals who decided to call themselves progressives? Are they verbally jiu-jitsuing themselves now? Besides, is it my fault that I’m aware of the definition of Critical Race Theory and react negatively to it? I’m not changing the meaning of it in doing so, I’m just pointing out its faux intellectual racist nonsense.
I do love the mention of “global warming” being redefined by conservatives, though. It’s actually the exact opposite. We continue to use the original definition of global warming, which is that, and stick with me here, the earth is warming. It is Democrats who have decided to redefine global warming to encompass essentially any weather phenomenon, from snow storms to hurricanes to droughts. Why do you think the phrase “climate change” is now used in place of global warming?
“I’ve been studying their communications for 15 years and it sort of blows me away because I think Democrats are good at doing plenty of things, but they really dropped the ball on the communications piece a lot,” Cormack says.
Cormack says conservatives have built a think-tank ecosystem of linguists and focus groups to test words and phrases for political battle. Democrats do some of the same, but with not the same level of commitment, she says.
That is the excuse Democrats always use when their policy outcomes prove to be broadly unpopular. You see, it’s just a messaging problem! If only they verbally jiu-jitsued the way those dastardly conservatives do, no one would ever vote for a Republican again!
Of course, no article hand-wringing over conservatism would be complete without an accusation of racism.
Verbal jiu-jitsu is not new in American politics. Conservatives have long employed it on racial issues. During the civil rights movement of the ‘50s and ‘60s, conservatives in both the Democratic and Republican parties often used a series of verbal feints that changed the direction of their opponent’s moral arguments.
They didn’t say they opposed integration; they said they were for “state’s rights.”
They didn’t say they didn’t want their children sitting next to Black or brown kids when opposing desegregation of public schools; they said they were against “forced busing.”
Did you get all that? You see, all those FDR Democrats who dominated the South in the 1950s and 1960s were really “conservatives.” Talk about verbal jiu-jitsu.
Let me explain what this CNN article is really about. It’s pure projection. Conservatives live in reality, taking terms and phrases at face value, even those defended by the left. Meanwhile, Democrats insist that men can become women and that Hispanics are actually “Latinx.” It’s not conservatives that are doing “verbal jiu-jitsu,” it’s Democrats. Are they bad at it? Sure, but that’s what happened when you try to change the objective meaning of terms every few years for political gain.