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The Dangerous Democratic Politics of Distortion

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

“The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their proper name.” – Confucius

Democrats in Washington, and throughout the country, appear to have adopted a relatively new strategy of distortion. Not merely the usual politics of one-sided presentation, but a semi-concerted effort to refer to anything and everything as something which, by definition, they are not, a mostly deliberate attempt to change public opinion and political discourse, not by changing minds, but by changing words. This is a dangerous and counter-productive move, because, as Confucius correctly observed more than 2,000 years ago, “If names be not correct, language is not in accordance with the truth of things. If language be not in accordance with the truth of things, affairs cannot be carried on to success.”

Often such intentional distortions are essentially benign. This past week two Democratic Members of Congress, Ted Lieu and Ayanna Pressley, both declared that President Trump is merely “the occupant of the White House” and not a true president. Then there was Stacey Abrams’ infamous non-concession concession speech after losing the Georgia gubernatorial election in November. And let's not forget her more recent and non-sensical declaration, “I did win my election.” These few examples could be easily chalked up to childish tantrums and being an immature sore loser if they were not part of a much larger trend.

Democrats have consistently chosen to refer to the far-left extremist group Antifa as protestors rather than domestic terrorists and their events as mostly peaceful protests rather than riotous mobs. Despite the fact that Antifa’s tactics eschew the First Amendment right to “peaceably assemble” in favor of attempts at coercion through violence and intimidation, the definition of domestic terrorism, Democrats repeatedly refused to even distance themselves from Antifa, much less call them what they are. Civil discourse cannot exist in such an environment.

Democrats and the mainstream media have decried the proper terms of "illegal alien" and "illegal immigrant" in favor of the inaccurate "undocumented migrant" term. Last Friday’s House Oversight Committee hearing saw Rashida Tlaib say as much from the House floor. “Nobody is illegal,” she wept, even though the people to whom she was referring entered the country illegally. This represents a desire for the complete abandonment of a legal definition in favor of an inaccurate one.

Still, the trend of Democratic distortion is even greater when it comes to the border crisis they spent months denying existed. A chorus of the left has taken to calling the necessary and legal detention centers at the border concentration camps. Concentration camps were where people, who were forcibly ripped from their homes, were imprisoned and forced into slave labor before being subjected to mass extermination. Detention centers are those who illegally enter our country are processed, provided with food, shelter, medical care, and due process. This is not a distinction without a difference. Falsely equating Border Patrol agents and detention centers with Nazis and concentration camps, the politics of distortion not only cheapens the severity of the Holocaust but frustrates any efforts to alleviate the illegal immigration crisis.

Democrats have adopted an open border policy. They have, through the presidential debates and an array of public statements, embraced the decriminalization of entering the country illegally, opposed deportation for those who have been ordered to be deported, and advocated for the dissolution of ICE. Yet, since the concept of open borders are wildly unpopular, Democrats instead refer to their policies with the ubiquitous and ambiguous term "comprehensive immigration reform." A further refusal to call something by the proper legal definition makes it impossible to advance any discussion on fixing our broken immigration system.

Poverty and lack of opportunity in their native countries has led to hundreds of thousands of would-be immigrants arriving at our southern border. Rather than calling this surge of immigration what it is – economic migration – the left continuously lumps economic migrants into the category of asylum seekers. Asylum law in the U.S. is for people with a “well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion," as stated in 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(42). Economic migrants, by definition, do not fit into this narrowly drawn category. Former President Obama said as much when he said,“Typically, refugee status is not granted just based on economic need or because a family lives in a bad neighborhood or poverty. It's typically defined, fairly narrowly.” 

Calling economic migration justification for asylum blatantly ignores the legal definition of asylum. Allowing it to persist through a complete distortion of what our asylum laws are, clogs up the asylum process and frustrates the possibility of what many Democrats claim they want: a streamlining of our immigration process. If they use correct terminology, then perhaps a proper discussion to fix the immigration problem could ensue.

Distortion is the new Democratic strategy. Be it through calling the president the occupant, claiming “I did win” when you lost, calling detention centers concentration camps, illegal aliens undocumented migrants, economic migration grounds for asylum, or domestic terrorists peaceful protestors, the left has descended into an Orwellian world of doublespeak. No social or political good can possibly be made in an environment where one party passionately refuses to call things what they are. 

Abandon distortion and doublespeak and use proper names and terminology so that a decent and informed discussion can proceed.

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