Are you a racist? Are you a sexist? A homophobe? Etc? It's the thing of the moment, what every fashionable and Woke American does: using pejoratives to shut people up -- or even get them fired from their jobs.
The truth is: everybody does it. It's just that, according to my Law of the Incoming Rounds, we only notice when the mortar rounds are descending upon us and ours.
For instance, the nicknames for the political parties in Britain, Whigs and Tories, were both originally pejoratives. "Tory" was a name for dispossessed Irish peasants and became the name for supporters of the Catholic King James II of England. "Whig" is probably a shortening of the word "whiggamore," the nickname of 17th century Scottish rebels.
When we deplorables talk about "lefties" and "commies" we are using pejoratives; we are using the words as insults.
And here is the real genius. Our liberal friends have to change their name every generation or so, because their normal name turns into a pejorative. Thus the Progressives of the turn of the 20th century reinvented themselves as "liberals" in the New Deal. And then, about 15 years ago they reinvented themselves as "progressives." Because in the hands of chaps like Ronald Reagan the word "liberal" had become radioactive, an insult.
But hey, politics is a game of insults, whatever Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) says about "people don't insult people." Yes they do, Nancy. All the time. Now, as I observe, the insult direct is a male thing. I encountered probably the base experience of this in Stephen Crane's Red Badge of Courage. The whole thing is about a young soldier wondering if he will have the necessary courage to get going when the going gets tough, and about the bravado and insults uttered by the soldiers as they are hanging around in camp in-between marches and battles.
What Our Nance is talking about is that women do not use the insult direct. In women's culture, insults are made indirectly, when two women have a conversation about a third woman not present: "I can't believe she said/did that." But the intention and the intended effect is just the same as the insult direct. Isn't it, Nance?
The purpose of an insult direct or an insult indirect is to take out someone. In men's culture you do that directly, basically challenging an opponent to put up or shut up. In women's culture it is done indirectly, by the community of women, in a series of one-on-one convsersations, coming to a collective decision that some targeted woman is to be named and shamed and shunned. Anthony Trollope does a beautiful number on a step-mother naming and shaming and shunning her step-daughter in An American Senator. Of course, her vile actions didn't work because her step-daughter was the heroine of the story!
Ain't I a sexist? As Bugs Bunny might have said.
Back to the use of "deplorable" as a pejorative. The insult was coined by the matchless Hillary Clinton when she said to an LGBT audience during the 2016 presidential campaign:
You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right?
The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people — now how 11 million. He tweets and retweets their offensive hateful mean-spirited rhetoric.Well yeah. Of course I would say that you ain't seen haters until you've been around LGBT activists. And that is why Hillary Clinton talked about deplorables in her speech at the LGBT fundraiser. Because that's what the gays and the lesbians wanted to hear. That's why they laughed. That's why they cheered. Because Hillary Clinton was telling them that they were the good guys and the Other was the bad guys.
But here's the thing. We deplorables loved it! We marched right out and owned that "deplorable" pejorative. So that now, it really isn't a pejorative any more, it's a badge of honor. The next day some wag had culturally appropriated Les Mis and designed a poster of Les Déplorables and the song "Do You Hear the People Sing."
Same thing with Whigs and Tories. Back in the day, the parties in the British Parliament were referred to by all and sundry as Whigs and Tories, and Conservative Party voters are to this day called Tories.
So I say that the only way to detoxify the dread accusation of racist-sexist-homophobe is to own it.
Yes, I'm a racist. What's it to you?
And, of course, if I was dealing with a real sophisticate, I would say that, according to Hegel, the thing and its opposite are really the same. So the racist and the anti-racist are united by their obsession with race. You might even say they deserve each other.
Whaddya think about that, pardner?