An English primer (a glossary translating political rhetoric into plain English)
by Thomas Sowell
Appeared in National Review, Dec 31, 1985 v37 p17(1)
EVERY FIELD has its own special words and expressions which others find hard to understand. Politics is no exception. For those who have difficulty understanding the strange way words are used by politicians and the media, here is a glossary translating political rhetoric into plain English:
Crisis: Any situation you want to change.
Bilingual: Unable to speak English.
Equal opportunity: Preferential treatment.
Non-judgmental: Blaming society.
Compassion: The use of tax money to buy votes.
Insensitivty: Objection to the use of tax money to buy votes.
Simplistic: An argument you disagree with but can’t answer.
Rehabilitation: Magic words said before releasing criminals.
Demonstration: A riot by people you agree with
Mob violence: A riot by people you disagree with.
A matter of principle: A political controversy involving the convictions of liberals.
An emotional issue: A political controversy involving the convictions of conservatives.
Funding: Money from the government.
Commitment: More money from the government.
Docudrama: A work of fiction about famous people.
Autobiography: A work of fiction about yourself.
Federal budget: A work of fiction about government spending.
People’s Republic: A place where you do what you are told or get shot.
National liberation movements: Organizations trying to create People’s Republics.
Stereotypes: Behavior patterns you don’t want to think about.
Reaganomics: Media explanation of downturns in the economy.
Robust economy: Media explanation of upturns in the economy.
Constitutional interpretation: Judges reading their own political views into the Constitution.
Politicizing the courts: Criticizing judges for reading their own political views into the Constitution.
A proud people: Chauvinists you like.
Bigots: Chauvinists you don’t like.
Antiwar movement: Disarmament advocates who know the idea won’t fly under its own name.
Private greed: Making money selling people what they want.
Public service: Gaining power to make people do what you want them to.
Innovation: Something new.
New innovation: Something new by someone who doesn’t understand English.
Competency: Competence, as described by the incompetent.
Moderate Arabs: Mythical beings to whom State Department officials make sacrificial offerings.
Special-interest lobby: Politically organized conservatives.
Public-interest group: Politically organized liberals.
Accountability: Holding teachers, public officials, and private business responsible for their misdeeds.
Chilling effect: Holding journalists responsible for their misdeeds.