All groups and movements develop their own lexicon: their own terms, often slurs. Take the Chinese Communist Party: They have had “running-dog capitalist,” “right-wing deviationist,” etc. In Hoxha’s Albania, they said “Titoist.” It was not a compliment.
I would like to talk about the Trump movement, the Trump army. I am not going to talk about the “alt” people. I am not going to talk about the Nazis or the fascists or the racists or the “identitarians.” I may address them another day.
I would probably entitle that piece “Nazis in My Notifications.” Almost every day, I need to weed the Nazis out of my “notifications” on Twitter. These are people who celebrate the Holocaust (when they’re not denying it). They tweet pictures of crematoria and the like.
The “alt” people — the “alt-Right,” or “alternative Right” — use the word “cuck” a lot. This stands for “cuckold.” The alts believe that the conservatives let dark-skinned people come in and rape their women and take over the country. Hence, they are “cucks.”
So we writers at National Review, for example, would be “cuckservatives,” led by “William F. Cuckley.” That’s the way they talk.
Forget them, for now. Today, I will talk about the lexicon of Trump partisans, or many of them. They come after me on Twitter and in “comments” sections under articles and blogposts. I have been scanning such things recently.
The mindset is collective, and so is the vocabulary. People use the same words, whether the words are sensible or truthful or not. It’s like an army of parrots, squawking. I wonder whether the birds know what they’re talking about.
I think the most prominent word, from Trumpites, is “globalist.” That is their epithet of choice. It seems to have replaced “cosmopolitan,” or “rootless cosmopolitan,” a once-common slur against Jews. It is one of those nonsense words of the populist Right.
In all likelihood, they think you’re for trade. Or for alliances. Or for general involvement in the world. Certainly, they think you are not a patriot. They think you subordinate the national interest to a fuzzy, global interest.
One dictionary definition of “globalism” is “the attitude or policy of placing the interests of the entire world above those of individual nations.”
We at National Review, of course, have been making the case for sovereignty and the nation-state for years. And there were years when sovereignty and the nation-state were in exceptionally bad odor. I thrilled to Jeremy Rabkin, for example, a guru on sovereignty.
Anyway, this means nothing to Trumpite critics of NR.
I have also seen the term “globalist pig” thrown about. “Pig” is a perennial, I suppose. Left-wing radicals referred to policemen as “pigs,” and still do. Then there was “capitalist pig.”
Not long ago, a Trump man tweeted at me, “There’s no more liberal and conservative. It’s just nationalist vs. globalist.” The tweeter thought himself on the side of the angels (nationalist angels).
Then we have “open borders.” They will always charge that you are for “open borders” — even if you have been arguing for a restrictionist immigration policy your entire career. And at some cost to yourself.
We at National Review have caught hell from some conservatives — and many libertarians — for a very long time. That is because we have been restrictionist. For our pains, we have been called nativist, xenophobic, and worse.
Trumpites either don’t know this or don’t care. To them, because we (or some of us) are anti-Trump, we are “open borders.” I suspect this is just a slur. The words “open borders” have no meaning, no content, beyond the slur.
When they say, “You’re for open borders,” they don’t mean “You’re for open borders.” They mean something closer to “I hate you.”
In Cambodia, a small handful of Khmer Rouge criminals have been put on trial. One of them oversaw a prison where almost every inmate was tortured to death. The prison was Tuol Sleng, or S-21, and its overseer was Kaing Guek Eav, nicknamed “Duch.”
Some 16,000 people went into S-21. Seven are known to have survived. One of them, a man named Chum Mey, was able to question Duch at trial.
Chum Mey asked, “Why did you keep saying that we worked for the CIA?” Duch answered, “The real CIA is different from people accused by the regime of being CIA. You were identified as someone who opposed the regime. That’s why we called you CIA.”
And in Hoxhite Albania, when they called you a Titoist, they didn’t really mean that you were for Tito, or working for him. They meant that you opposed the regime, or were suspected of doing so.
When a Trumpite says that someone like me is for open borders, he does not mean that we’re for open borders. He means nothing more, really, than “You don’t support the candidate I support, and I hate you.”
“Open borders for Israel!” You hear that from some Trump people. It is a taunt. I think they mean that anti-Trump people put Israel above all — certainly above America — and if anti-Trumpers want open borders for America, they should surely want it for Israel. Which would destroy Israel. So, ha ha.
As far as I know, that’s why these guys say, “Open borders for Israel!”
They also call us “Israel Firsters.” They are for “America First” (using the old isolationist slogan). So the rest of us are “Israel Firsters,” you see.
Relatedly, we are “neocons” — not that these Trumpers have the slightest idea what a neocon is. They have a vague sense that it means warmongering globalist. The alt-Rightists often say “neocohen.” Get it? Get it? Good one, huh?
On Twitter some weeks ago, I noted that both Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un had praised Donald Trump. I said something like, “Rule of thumb: The GOP presidential nominee should not be endorsed by Putin or Kim.” A Trumper tweeted back at me, “No, that’s the neocon rule of thumb.”
At least he didn’t say “neocohen.” But that is the level of understanding.
Perpetually, people like me — conservative Trump critics — are charged with desiring “perpetual war,” or “endless war.” This is an ancient charge, incidentally, and its pedigree is malodorous.
Every day, we hear that we are the “GOPe.” The “e” stands for “establishment.” In the Trumpite mind, people like me are The Man, whom The Donald and his forces are standing up to.
I once wrote an essay on the use and abuse of the word “establishment,” and I won’t recapitulate it here. Suffice it to say that I think people should make arguments for or against various policies without recourse to bogey words such as “establishment.” Say what you believe and why, if you possibly can.
Then there’s “RINO.” It stands for “Republican in Name Only.” And it’s a constant Trumpite charge. Which is odd on at least two levels.
First, many Trump people despise the GOP. So for them to question other people’s Republican loyalty is odd indeed.
But second, their man, their hero, is genuinely a RINO: a lifelong Democrat who got into the Republican primaries when he saw a populist opening.
In any event, my critics can spare me the “RINO” charge because I left the Republican party when Donald Trump cinched the Republican nomination — i.e., when the party transformed itself.
“Donor class.” You hear this a lot. It is a pejorative, of course. Probably, every candidate for office receives donations from people who support him. Trump has said that he is self-funding. But that is evidently not true. So he, too, has donors. Do they belong to the “class”?
One of the reasons I rejected the Left, many years ago, is that they spoke constantly of “class.” No one could be an individual; everyone had to be shoved into a class. I now hear the same kind of language — ideological language, extremist language — from the Right.
Someone said to me recently, “You’re working for your donor-class overlords.” This is kind of funny, when the initial shock wears off.
Memo to donor-class overlords, or would-be overlords: National Review could use some. Believe me. Give us a call!
P.S. As a devotee of Turkish cuisine, I certainly belong to the doner class.
More on this class stuff: Not since I was a student, surrounded by Marxists, have I heard so much talk about class. Or such expressions of class envy. And it all comes from the Trump army.
Someone told me, “Keep drinking wine and eating brie in your New York penthouse.” Do Trump folk know whom they’re supporting? Have they ever heard of Trump Tower? Do they realize I’m a magazine staffer?
You see what I mean.
When you’re in my business, you hear a lot about cocktail parties. The Right charges you with tailoring your views to cocktail parties. As they tell it, “You have to toe the liberal line or your invitations to cocktail parties will dry up.”
This is so divorced from reality, it’s hard to know what to say. Most of us would rather be home, typing in our pajamas, or less, than attending cocktail parties.
And I have news for the Trumpite Right: Conservatives like me are as unwanted by lefties as they are by Trumpies. One side hates us for being Neanderthals. The other side hates us for not being Neanderthals.
“Elitist” is another charge, of course. Trump partisans fancy themselves tribunes of the people — or the people themselves. “We the People,” they like to say. The rest of us are non-people, somehow.
The charge of elitism is especially stupid and irksome. I have spoken of my rejection of the Left, when I was in my teens. One reason I rejected them is that they obviously disdained ordinary people: people who, as Barack Obama would later say, cling to their guns and religion.
And people who call you elitist? They’re apt to know nothing — nothing at all — about you.
“It’s not about ideology.” This is something I hear from Trump folk when I or someone else points out that Trump is not a conservative, or that he takes left-leaning positions, or outright leftist positions (as on health care).
A related phrase is, “It’s not about box-checking.”
What do they mean by this? I think they mean, “No fair talking about issues. No fair talking about the federal debt or taxation or entitlements or trade or gun control or abortion or NATO or affirmative action or ethanol subsidies. Issues and positions don’t matter. Thinking doesn’t matter. What matters is that Donald Trump is a big strong man, and that’s what this country needs now.”
You recall what recruiters for Trump University were told: sell “feelings,” not “solutions.”
“You’re for Hillary!” “Another vote for Hillary!” This sort of thing trips from Trumpite lips 24/7. If, like me, you are not voting for either Trump or Hillary — because you regard both as unfit for office — Trump folk will say that you’re for Hillary. Period.
I was fighting Hillary, in every way I could, when Trump was her great friend and supporter and funder — insisting that she be at his wedding, in the first pew.
My friend Bill Kristol was leading the fight against HillaryCare (as we called the precursor to ObamaCare) when Trump was waging his “personal Vietnam” — i.e., dodging venereal disease when bedding his broads. I think Trump was for single-payer health care then too, to the extent he thought about it.
Anyway, we don’t need any lectures on Hillary. Yet I think that, psychologically, it’s very important to Trump people that the likes of us be for Hillary. I think they would rather shout “Hillary!” than defend Trump’s fitness for office. I don’t blame them.
Note this, too: For months, the Trumpites told us that we were irrelevant, we were the “GOPe,” we were past it. They didn’t need us. We were yesterday’s news. Besides which, Trump was bringing millions and millions of new people to the polls — people who had dropped out of the political process, or had never entered it.
The whole electoral calculus was changed!
And now, if I don’t go to the old-folks home on the Upper West Side of Manhattan on the relevant Tuesday in November, I’m going to be responsible for President Hillary Rodham Clinton?
Well, I won’t be responsible for that, or for President Donald J. Trump.
“Your time is over!” they often tell me. I want to reply, “I had a time? Who knew? I wish someone had told me! I might have enjoyed ‘my time’ …”
Among the many other things they are, Trumpites are definers and arbiters of conservatism. They are some combination of Edmund Burke and Russell Kirk, at least in their minds.
They say that George Will is not a conservative. Will is, of course, a classic conservative. Plus, he knows more about conservatism in a follicle of his hair than the Trump army does collectively. But, to them, Will is no conservative.
They tell Mona Charen that she is not a conservative. She worked in the Reagan White House. She has been on the frontlines for decades. They don’t care.
For them, conservatism can be summed up in one, four-syllable phrase: “Donald J. Trump.”
If they want to call themselves nationalists and populists and protectionists and Buchananites and nativists and identitarians and Trumpites, that’s fine with me. But they insist (some of them) that they are conservatives. And that all others are heretics.
Which is meshugge (as the neocons might say).
Earlier, I spoke of Trumpites who say that they are “nationalists,” in opposition to “globalists.” “There’s no more liberal and conservative. It’s just nationalist vs. globalist.” To me, this is slightly more palatable than the One True Conservative act.
“You’ve never criticized Obama!” We at National Review hear this, from angry Trump supporters. Honestly. We hear, “You’ve never criticized Obama!”
Obviously, criers of such phrases have never read NR and know nothing about it. We have devoted every issue since 2008, and most covers, probably, to criticism of Obama. That does not obligate us to declare Trump fit for office, if we don’t think he is …
“The primary is over!” I hear this from Trump folk increasingly. What they mean is, “Shut up. No more criticism of Trump. The Right has spoken. The Right has selected its presidential nominee. Shut up and get on board.”
This is not very American. Also, I think of a response from an American general: “Nuts.” Nobody is obligated to surrender his conscience. On the contrary.
Ever and always, there is the threat — explicit or implicit — that things will be very bad for anti-Trump conservatives, once The Donald wins. Just you wait. You’ll get yours. You had to board the #TrumpTrain or get run over, and get run over you will. Your time is up.
What do they mean? Shunning? Knee-capping? Bullet to the back of the head? Some Vorkuta planned, in Maine, maybe?
Their candidate’s style is belligerent, and so is theirs.
Never has there been a closer marriage of candidate and core supporters. This includes respect for the truth. If it’s to Trump’s advantage to imply that a rival’s father had a hand in the Kennedy assassination, he will. If a Trumpster needs, psychologically, to tell you you’re for open borders, or for Hillary — he will.
Live not by lies. I mean, no one can stop you, but it’s a lousy way to live.