Wednesday, March 02, 2005

McCarthyite Language Tactics

Joseph McCarthy was an American senator who made a career in the 50's by accusing various humans of being communists or having some association with communist or left-wing organizations. His tactics, such as guilt by association, defamation of character, insinuations about a person's political and sexual life, are still used by many morally corrupt persons, especially those involved with communication: bureaucrats, politicians, journalists, academics. Although usually and correctly identified with various propagandists of the right-wing, McCarthyite tactics are used by liberals as well, especially by those types of putative liberals who are dedicated to "identity politics."

McCarthyite tactics are of course logical fallacies--simply because someone attended a leftist rally against death squads in El Salvador while in college does not imply that the person is a marxist or socialist. Many former college students who diligently read Marx and supported the Sandinistas are now respectable suburban professionals making regular house and car payments--hopefully they haven't come full circle and voted for the GOP, right?

McCarthyism is really about power and control: instead of logic or debate or evidence, slander and libel are employed to destroy perceived enemies, thus valuable ideas and debates are kept from becoming discussed, and intellectual reputations are ruined by means of insinuation. Labels and terms are essential to the McCarthyite: "red" was the favorite, now it's become just "knee-jerk or bleeding-heart liberal" or even democrat as an insult.

Accusing or speculating about someone's sex habits is another tactic of McCarthyites of both right and left: by conveniently placing a "gay" label, on someone's ideas or character that accused person's logic and argument or evidence is thereby discredited. For instance, a typical Republican idiot most likely makes the following assumptions: X is opposed to say the recall of Davis. Thus X is not supporting the GOP, he is therefore a democrat and advocates socialist policies and is probably gay. X of course may not be a democrat or socialist or "gay", but GOP idiot will assume that X is in reality all of those things and will make his assumptions known to his cronies as well.

Mockery of a person's appearance is another McCarthyite tactic. Davis is attacked in cartoons and in print as a small and therefore weak person--caricature is a favorite and useful tactic of propagandists. Schwarzneggers are approved and Davis and Ralph Nader types are not: consumer masses are drawn to heroes, to macho men that represent physical strength, and nerds such as Nader and Davis's are viewed with suspicion by the generally anti-intellectual and violent mob.

An organization may use these tactics as well. A student finds a professor to be injust and biased and has some confrontations. Said professor then punishes student by giving him a B when he earned an A. And Professor spreads the word in the Department that student is a radical, a troublemaker, a rabble rouser, or straight (being straight is viewed as a flaw in many modern college departments) or gay or from a rich family or from wrong side of the tracks or Westside or Eastside or he' s a caucasian or a mexican or black or WHATEVER. In fact this sort of herd mindset might be discovered at most UCs and CSUs---where many professors, especially those who teach "qualitative courses," care little about real merit or accomplishments but attempt to determine a person's "character" and then assign grades. There are plenty of McCarthyite-minded professor dolts, and, surprisingly, many of them are putative "liberals" or feminists.

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