There Are Words For ‘Republicans.’
Why Won’t News Outlets Use Them?
“That makes sense,” I said as we lolled in the warm, still-green grass. “In general, when not quoting Trump directly, news organizations don’t allow profanity.”
“Duh,” the opossum said, “I wasn’t born yesterday, although I don’t remember much about my childhood; there’s something vague about growing up in a pouch. It’s very fuzzy.”
“The pouch or your memory?” I said.
“Both, probably,” the marsupial said.
“Well, back to vulgarities on the 6 o’clock news and the front page of the Post,” I said. “News people try to have some standards about language, and also, they try hard not to sound biased. In fact, that’s same code we try honor in our own blog; we mostly avoid the *^#$?!ing sewer.”
“You know what I mean,” Mr. O said. “But considering the danger Republicans pose to American democracy, they can’t be treated as ... I’m looking for a word….”
“Respectable?” I suggested.
“That's the one,” Mr. O said. “Far too often, the media treats Republicans like they are a normal political party, part of our history, an important balancing force within our system of self-governance.”
“Sounds a little pompous, even for a college-educated opossum,” I said. “But your point, overall, has a point.”
“Thank you,” Mr. O said. “And I didn’t mean we should use the language of the gutter.”
I RAN INTO THE HOUSE and grabbed a copy of the New York Times, right from under the nose of The Grouchy One, who had it on the kitchen table, hours after breakfast should have ended.
On the front page(it was actually yesterday’s paper, that’s how indolent Grouchy is) was a story about the national debt limit, so I briefly fell asleep dragging the paper into the backyard. The story was headlined:
of U.S. Default
Neither Party Budges
on Debt-Limit vote
“That’s exactly what’s wrong!” Mr. O bellowed. “The Times makes it seem like there are two major political parties in the United States, and they are having a polite debate over an important, if stupefying, aspect of public policy.”
How would Mr. O have the Greatest Newspaper refer to Republicans, I wanted to know. And I singled out one paragraph from the Times story, since it included a not-so-subtle suggestion that the Republicans are hypocrites:
Republicans in Congress have refused to help raise the nation’s debt limit, even though the need to borrow stems from the bipartisan practice of running large budget deficits.”
“Try this, instead,” Mr. O said:
Republicans in Congress, who refused to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol that threatened their own lives, to say nothing of the 2020 election and democracy itself, now are weaponizing the debt limit procedure in their treasonous campaign to undermine the functioning of both the national government and the economy, as they continue their overall goal to create an authoritarian state.
“But it’s true,” Mr. O said.
“AREN’T YOU STEREOTYPING a group of people, objectifying them, labeling, and ultimately treating them as less than human?” I asked.
“That’s not my intent,” Mr. O said. “In fact, Republicans are acting all too human, the part of being human that’s truly rotten.”
“Here’s an example,” he continued. “Remember how badly President Joe Biden – a Democrat if memory serves – treated thousands of Haitians on the Texas border? Cruelly, he sent thousands to Haiti, the last place that could handle them. To say nothing of the photos of border agents on horseback, who looked like they were herding refugees, even whipping them with their reins.”
“Right,” Mr. O said. “Now, consider the Republican response, in the person of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. He said if Biden fires the riders, he’ll hire them as Texas state officials.”
“WHAT HAS TO HAPPEN?” I asked Mr. O.
“For starters, you treat Republicans not like they used to be before but like the Trump cultists they’ve become, the same way you refer to any universally accepted horrible thing – for example, like a hurricane.”
“Republicans are a weather system?” I said.
“A hurricane is not an ordinary meteorological event,” Mr. O said. “It’s a threat to every creature and every habitat; it’s a terrible, terrifying disaster; it’s deadly, it’s destructive; there’s no such thing as a ‘nice,’ ‘normal,’ ‘okay,’ or ‘routine’ hurricane.”
“In other words,” I said, “there are some things that are simply bad, no questions asked. Like a disease, a serial killer; like a wildfire; a flood; like the Depression, the Mafia; like the Klan, the Khmer Rouge.”
“Like Republicans,” Mr. O said.