‘Conversation” used to be such a pleasant, unifying term, calling up images of reasonable people talking and listening to one another in reasonable tones —until it joined the ranks of words and phrases hijacked by the liberal left.
I know politicians of both parties try to manipulate language. Those on the left are correct to point out that not every millionaire is a “job creator,” as implied by too many Republicans.
But the list on the left is far longer than that on the right, and that is because they have so much more to disguise about their agenda. Why else would they use terms like “revenue enhancement” to describe a tax increase? Or, when they want to force people, under penalty of law, to pay more taxes, do they always claim that they just want to, “ask the wealthy to pay a little bit more”?
It is because they know what far too many in the media and the general population apparently don’t — that those who control the terms of the debate control the debate.
Attorney General Eric Holder claims to want an “honest conversation” about race. And more recently, President Obama and his supporters called yet again for a “conversation” about gun control, after Aaron Alexis, the government contractor and former Navy reservist, killed 12 people and injured eight others at the Washington Navy Yard before he was shot to death himself.
But they don’t want a conversation — at least not in the way that most of us used to understand it.
If they did, do you think Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz would claim that the recent recall of two gun-control advocates in the Colorado Legislature was “voter suppression, pure and simple,” caused by the National Rifle Association and the demonic, wealthy Koch brothers?
Or did she just forget that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave at least $350,000 to the anti-recall effort? Or that the pro-recall side was outspent by about 8-1?
If they wanted a conversation, they might be more willing to discuss the fact that those magical “background checks” are not a foolproof solution either. It turns out that Alexis had passed two background checks. He had shown clear evidence of mental illness, but never lost his security clearances.
If they really wanted a conversation, they would be willing to discuss whether the pronounced increase in mass shootings since 1970 might have anything to do with the deinstitutionalization of the severely mentally ill starting that year.
If they really wanted a conversation, they would be willing to discuss the influence on mentally unbalanced people of rampant violence in Hollywood movies and video games.
But the only conversation they want is the one-way version. But the guilt trip is not working. And it won’t, as long as we realize that “conversation” is nothing but a code word for: “Do as I say.”
Taylor Armerding is an independent columnist.