Those Language-Hijacking Conservatives

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Over on the always interesting if often arcane Language Log, linguist Geoff Nunberg reveals another weapon in conservatives’ linguistic arsenal: the object+present participle compound. Those are syntactic constructions like “tax-hiking, government-expanding, latte-drinking”, which make for handily efficient epithets. He writes: “In fact you could trace the whole history of the right’s campaigns against liberals via those compounds — from tree-hugging and NPR-listening back through the Nixon era’s pot-smoking, bra-burning, draft-dodging, and America-hating, until you finally excavate the crude origins of the trope in nigger-loving, the ur-denunciation of white liberal sentimentality.”

The subtitle of Nunberg’s great new book, Talking Right, lists some of the right’s favorites, including the current codeword for treachery, “New York Times-reading.” Somehow he left out “Mother Jones-reading,” which a Google search finds to be a nice standby for would-be Frank Luntzes seeking to expand their repertoire. A few examples:

“hardcore, Lenin-goateed, Mother Jones-reading left-wingers” …. “pasty-faced tofu-munching, Mother Jones-reading, socialist-vegan-liberal…” …. “the Volvo driving, Mother Jones reading, sprouts eating crowd…” …. “Until later you Volvo driving, latte drinking, Mother Jones reading, leg warmer wearing, liberal.” …. “clove-smoking, Birkenstock-wearing, Mother Jones reading, granola crunchers” …. “the Nader-voting, Strawpleberry Mocha Frappucino-sipping, Mother Jones-reading, hipster-dirtbagger Francophile Lefty progressives”

That leg warmer one hurts. And for the record, that would be a decaf, fat-free, fair-trade Strawpleberry Mocha Frappucino.

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IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

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