The Name Game

Oftentimes, when I click on the National Tea Party Facebook page to see all the new posts, I see a consistent theme:  name-calling on the part of the neocons involved, also known — as they were so eloquently called in an article I saw recently — as the “Teaocons,” these are the people who have co-opted the Tea Party movement from what it once was, a small government, non-partisan movement of libertarian types who came from all over the Nolan Chart.  The original libertarian/constitutionalist types were against corporate welfare, the wars, current U.S. foreign policy, the Federal Reserve’s manipulation of the U.S. dollar, and other things that seem to be hallmarks of the neoconservative (calling someone a neocon, I do not think, can be defined as name-calling, as it is a recognized ideology) ideology in the United States.  

The fact that neoconservatives co-opted the Tea Party for their own candidates, who have no clear agenda for changing the status quo, has some to do with the name game they are currently playing.  The original Tea Party was opposed to policies on ideological and academic grounds; their grievances were based on fact and reason; and name-calling was not one of their hallmarks.  It need be noted the only nasty insults I ever see on the libertarian leaning pages on Facebook are from neocons; otherwise, the posts represent the optimistic outlook for the future.

The point I am trying to make here is that name-calling gets no one anywhere, and in fact, can make things much worse.  What I see on the National Tea Party Facebook page is the following: continual birther postings, claims that opposing political views are mental disorders, pictures with some degree of animosity towards people due to the collective idea of race or perception those people are taking “their jobs,” Islamophobia, and the many creative terms for liberty activists.  Routinely, when I even attempt civil debates on policy on a post a neocon makes, I am shouted down as a “left-wing radical Democrat,” “self-loathing American,” “hedonistic,” “anti-Semite,” “neo-nazi,” “bigot,” “Democratic infiltrator,” or “18 and already a member of a cult.”

The times where I was called a neo-nazi, bigot, and anti-Semite was in an “argument” (if it can be called that) on foreign aid to Israel where I voiced the opinion that Israel is a modern country with a decent GDP per capita and that they should be able to defend themselves.  How quickly the members of the neocon camp resort  to name-calling after a legitimate argument like the aforementioned is insanity, pure and simple.  When people make rational points in arguments, I do not name-call — this forces me to reevaluate my belief and entrench it with knowledge. 

I understand what they do because I once was a neocon myself, before my involvement in the liberty movement cured my ignorance.  I rarely read any of what can be called scholarly works at that time, preferring Hannity, Limbaugh, Savage, and Bill O’Reilly.  I do not specifically remember those books having any footnotes or data to back them up, so I thrived solely on men’s opinions, which in turn, became mine by default.  Since I read libertarian treatises on politics, economics, and foreign policy a little over two years ago, my thinking is now more objective in nature.  I evaluate opinions based on fact and reason.  I have made it my aim to live on rational thought and rational thought alone, trying not to base any of my opinions on emotion, but cold-hard data or Natural Law. 

Name-calling in politics is somehow rooted in emotion.  It is the tendency to give something a derogatory name just because it seems to be the easiest route.  To me, it is much easier to call out a policy, not a person.  That is what all of us in the Liberty movement should seek to do.  Many of you have probably seen this Gandhi quote in recent weeks on Facebook stati as it applies to the situation of the liberty movement:

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

Right now, it appears they are attempting to fight us, but it is obvious when they must resort to calling us all those wonderfully endearing terms, that they are losing.  Think about how it looks when someone who is apolitical or apathetic to politics stumbles upon the National Tea Party page and sees someone like you or me easily holding our own against a neocon who can only respond with insults to our facts, figures, and sound economic knowledge.  I know it makes a big difference, and could even convince people. 

Slinging insults may make those on your side laugh, yet it is no way to make friends or influence people.  I find myself laughing at the things people have said about me in comments, because I know some of the things they call me are not true.  Who is the bigot here?  I oppose foreign aid to Israel and all other foreign countries, and social conservatives seek to create laws that forbid personal behaviors they find repulsive.  Opposing foreign aid to Israel and foreign countries acknowledges the right of Americans to keep their tax dollars and opposes the concept of entangling alliances.  Seeking to create laws to limit someone’s behavior denies individual freedom based on a prejudice. And I’m the bigot?

Name-calling in politics is a clear hallmark for some people, yet for others, it is the antithesis for a civil argument. Once someone uses one of those endearing terms, I automatically shut off whatever degree of openness I had to what they were saying, because clearly they cannot back up what they said — if they could, the content of the next comment or response would be factual and backed up by data. And I do not think I am the only one that has such a negative response to it. Many others respond that way as well.

To paraphrase a quote from the movie Defiance, “We may be [treated] like animals, but we will never become animals.”

Keep your integrity, smile, and just realize you have reduced them to a primal state that lacks reason.

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