The reason behind this Republican verbal tick
At some point — I don’t know exactly when — it became slightly disreputable to refer to a member of the Jewish faith as a “Jew.” This became so not because there’s anything inherently wrong with it per se, but because the word has been increasingly used as an implied slur by bigots.
Its most potent negative form occurs when the speaker uses the noun form when the adjective form would be more appropriate. For example, “that’s a Jew neighbourhood” instead of “that’s a Jewish neighbourhood.”
You may be certain that the speaker probably knows what he or she is doing, even if it’s unconscious. Derogation is implied. But it’s a passive-aggressive kind of derogation, and it is therefore positively dripping with plausible deniability.
The speaker’s contempt is on full display but they don’t have to take any overt blame for it, even though their meaning is clear. They know they are guilty of a discourteousness even if they claim not to know any better. In other words, it’s the stuff of cowards.
It started with the Nazis, I think, who more commonly said “Jude” or “Juden” than “Jüdisch.” So who’s surprised that a form of this verbal derogation has been taken up by Republicans?
Republicans use a form of this when speaking about Democrats, and Jamie Raskin recently called them out on it. “Democrat is the noun, when you use it as an adjective you say the Democratic member, Democratic solution, Democratic plan,” Mr Raskin pointed out. “I assume it’s a good faith grammatical error the first few times. But after people are corrected several times and they continue to say it seems like it’s an act of incivility.”
Indeed it is an act of incivility. It’s an intentional, deliberate slur when a Republican uses, say, “Democrat member” in place of “Democratic member.”
Mr. Raskin points out that Democrats don’t automatically refer to “banana Republicans,” in retaliation. Not yet anyway. Maybe we should? No, I don’t think so. That would be stooping to their level. We’re better than that because we’re better than them.
Weaponizing words is a favourite pastime of Republicans. They have surrounded words like “woke” and “socialism” with a kind of disreputable air of contempt by the way they repeat them in a negative way. They almost spit the words out.
We see it with the highly offensive and disrespectful use of Dr. Anthony Fauci’s name. He’s never “Dr. Fauci,” he’s just “Fauci,” as if they’ve found a verbal hammer to beat another octogenarian with, instead of an actual hammer.
Republicans use these terms because they know they rankle and they intend them that way. They use words as weapons of hate and division because hate and division is, after all, what Republicans are all about.
It can’t be said enough. Republican members of Congress have no plan to help anyone apart from themselves. They exist in the name of greed and power. We know this because they paid lip service to fixing inflation and the price of gas in their bid to take back the Congress.
Now that they have the Congress they ignore those things and focus exclusively on hate: hate for the President’s son, hate for American institutions like the FBI. First they expose themselves with their words and how they use them, then they expose themselves with their deeds. If you want to know what Republicans are up to, pay attention to how they use and corrupt words.
There are eight million stories in the naked city of Republican hate speech. This has been one of them. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.