A New Generation of Conservative Thought

The liberal abuse of the English language

By Dr. Grace Vuoto

July 12, 2011

Since the 1960s, New Age liberals have been attempting to overturn core American values, especially by transforming the meaning of words that have long been in use. Similar to communist revolutionaries in Eastern Europe throughout much of the twentieth century, contemporary American liberals have discovered that the best way to alter behavior is to penetrate the mind by transforming our vocabulary.

There are five words in particular that have been hijacked and which form the basis of the liberal philosophy. The first of these is “judgment.” To judge is considered the cardinal liberal sin: “Who are you to judge?” is the most-often repeated phrase when a liberal assaults traditional morality. All the while, the very question is a form of judgment. Yet, every individual makes judgments incessantly, from what to wear, eat, work, live or marry. Judging is an inevitable function of the brain whether one is liberal or conservative.

What liberals are really doing is conflating “judgment” with “condemnation.” The debate is not whether we should judge or condemn—as we all inevitably do—but ultimately what behaviors are or are not acceptable. In short, the next time a liberal declares, “Who are you to judge?” an apt retort is that to judge is merely human; what the traditionalist is really doing is condemning, not judging. We condemn liberal values in the same manner as liberals condemn conservative values.

The next most misused word is “toleration.” Liberals believe that toleration is a right: all behaviors ought to be tolerated and to contest this is to be—brace yourself—the second most odious of liberal sins: intolerant. In this instance, the liberal is conflating “tolerance” with “acceptance.” To tolerate behavior is to allow it to take place. In a free society such as the one we live in, few behaviors, with the exception of criminal acts, are not permitted. Hence, conservatives ought to proudly claim that we tolerate but do not accept liberal behavior, in the same manner as liberals tolerate but do not accept the conservative lifestyle.

In quick succession, once the two commandments, “Thou shalt not judge” and “Thou shalt be tolerant,” are bandied about like Moses on Mount Sinai, the liberal will often lash out with the “compassion” card. This word too has been hijacked. Liberals equate “compassion” with either acceptance of all behaviors or with government largesse. To oppose any of these is to “lack compassion.” Hence, the liberal will often claim moral superiority in advocating a more humane approach to social problems. Yet compassion means simply to have regard for others. Conservatives believe that true compassion means leading individuals toward God and self-sufficiency. In essence, liberals are conflating “compassion” with either “sexual permissiveness” or “government dependency.” Conservatives must reclaim compassion—not as former President George W. Bush did by advocating a soft-liberalism—but by asserting that conservative values are more caring of our neighbors.

Liberals have done a masterful job of also distorting the word “freedom.” In countless movies and commercials, freedom is presented as part of a lifestyle that includes sex, drugs and bucking social conventions. For centuries, this was not defined as “freedom” but as “bohemianism” or “libertinism.” “Freedom” today is what was previously understood simply as “debauchery.”

For centuries, freedom was understood in two senses: the first, going back to our Judeo-Christian heritage, derived from the concept that liberty means to be in complete command of oneself to best serve God; hence, freedom was defined as exercising the will and mind over the body; to be truly free is to be free from sin. In a political sense, to have liberty meant to have a sphere of control over one’s affairs that was free from government interference. Hence, from feudal into modern times, the middle class and the aristocracy of various European nations battled the feudal order, including the monarchy, for greater rights. Spheres that were separate from the king’s control were understood as “liberties.” Thus, in the twenty-first century, freedom means the diametric opposite of what it meant for thousands of years.

In essence, to be truly free is to have self-command and be in harmony with the will of God; to be truly free means to have autonomy from state interference. Enslaved to the flesh, enslaved to the state, that is the liberal definition of “freedom”: Conservatives must cry out: “Freedom is ours; slavery is yours.”

Finally, one of the key words liberals have gleefully appropriated is “progressive.” Liberal values are cast as forward-looking, leading to a better, brighter future. And conservative values are tainted as leading Americans toward a dark, superstitious, bigoted and medieval past. In reality, “progressivism” is a philosophy that has already been tried and rejected numerous times: In the ancient world it was called Epicureanism and had short shrift as it was supplanted by polytheism and then Christianity; in the declining years of the Roman Empire, sexual permissiveness was rejected in favor of the intellectual and spiritual brilliance of Christianity; and in the twentieth century the promise of a social utopia based on government redistribution of wealth—communism—also collapsed. Thus, “progressives” harken to past models that invariably fail; conservatives see the bright future of a world that embraces the highest form of philosophy on earth, faith in God, in tandem with the best political and economic system ever created: democracy and free markets.

Once we recognize that the liberal revolution always begins with words, we are armed to counter it. Hence, notice that killing babies in the womb is called “choice”; redistributing wealth is called “equality”; natural fluctuations in the earth’s atmosphere is called “climate change”; debauchery is sanitized as “addiction” or sanctioned as “partying”; propaganda or indoctrination is called “sensitivity training”; thought and speech control is called “political correctness”; illegal immigrants are “undocumented workers”; and corrupting the youth is called “sex education.” In addition, racism which means believing in the biological inferiority of ethnic groups is bandied about so frequently that even patriotism—national pride—is labeled “racist.” This is the ultimate in collective self-flagellation as liberals ultimately seek to destroy all ties that bind humans together organically, in preference for the controlling power of an impersonal bureaucracy. In short, liberalism itself is simply what used to be known as “sin.”

Thus, it is time conservatives regain control of the English language and speak as follows: “I wholeheartedly condemn your degenerate lifestyle; I tolerate but do not accept your sinful behavior; my compassion is greater than yours; I stand for freedom and you for enslavement. To make progress is to reject the debauchery of the ancient world and the crimes of communism. Ultimately, I know English and history and evidently you do not.”

This is the kind of self-confidence we need in order to prevent liberalism from infecting the culture. We must first get liberals out of our words, out of our mouth and out of the sinews of our brain before we can truly defeat this destructive ideology.

-Dr. Grace Vuoto is the Executive Director of the Edmund Burke Institute for American Renewal. She can be reached at gvuoto@edmundburkeinstitute.org