Friday, June 08, 2007

What the right understands: "Words = power" 

In a recent post about Mitt Romney, Josh Marshall remarked "...I find him genuinely frightening."

I believe that those of us on the left need to stop referring to folks on the other side as 'scary' or 'frightening'. Why? No, it's not to be nice. You see when we say that one of their guys is 'frightening', a sizeable proportion of the right thinks to themselves 'good'. You see, frightening is strong, frightening is powerful, frightening is tough.

Calling people frightening gives them a heft, an importance and a power that they don't deserve. By contrast, think about how they refer to our side. 'Kooky', 'nutty', 'the looney left'. Why? Because just as 'frightening' assigns power, words like 'looney' drain power. They are dismissive.

We need to stop giving the right more power than they deserve. We can start by how we think about them and talk about them. Words matter.

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