Pew research poll on political rhetoric.

GREENVILLE, NC – JULY 17: President Donald Trump speaks during a Keep America Great rally on July 17, 2019 in Greenville, North Carolina.

“Americans say the nation’s political debate has grown more toxic and ‘heated’ rhetoric could lead to violence.”

So the headlines of a recent Pew Research poll scream in large, boldprint font. Some specifics are in order:

  • Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents overwhelmingly (84%) say Trump has changed political discourse for the worse. About half of Republicans and Republican leaners (49%) say he has changed it for the better, while 23% say he has changed it for the worse and 27% say he hasn’t changed it much either way.
  • Eight-in-ten or more Democrats say Trump’s comments often or sometimes make them feel concerned, confused, embarrassed, exhausted, angry, insulted and frightened. While Republicans are considerably less likely than Democrats to report these negative reactions to Trump’s rhetoric, about six-in-ten (59%) say they are at least sometimes concerned by his comments, while about half say they are at least sometimes confused (47%) or embarrassed (53%). About seven-in-ten or more Republicans say his comments often or sometimes make them feel entertained, informed, hopeful, excited, happy, proud, respected and inspired.
  • Among Republicans, just 25% say it is never acceptable to accuse an opponent of being anti-American, while 53% of Democrats say this is out of bounds. Notably, those in both parties are more likely to say this rhetoric is acceptable when an elected official of their party is accusing an opponent of the other party. But the partisan gap remains: Just 30% of Republicans say it is off-limits for a Republican to call a Democratic opponent anti-American, while 45% of Democrats say it is off-limits for a Democrat to say this about a Republican opponent.
  • Nearly two-thirds of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (64%) think that “Democrats in this country are very comfortable to freely and openly express their political views,” but only about a quarter (26%) think Republicans around the nation experience that same level of comfort. The sense of an unequal environment for political expression is most pronounced among conservative Republicans and Republican leaners: 69% think Democrats are very comfortable to freely express their views, while just 23% think Republicans are very comfortable, a 46 percentage point gap.

My conclusions, what it all means: President Trump is the first Republican president in my memory who seems to savor being attacked, vilified, criticized, even slandered by the Perfectionist Progressive establishment: Democrats, “legacy” media (NY Times, Wa. Post, LA Times, etc.), 2nd tier cable (CNN, MSNBC), race and grievance hustlers, most college profs, and other assorted leftists, even establishment Republicans. Ronald Reagan was a master of using humor to deflect and embarrass critics, but he didn’t seem to enjoy it as Trump does. His combativeness has been a shock to the PP establishment, who got used to soft targets like the Bushes and most Republicans. The “unequal environment for political expression” was a given for Democrats since the 1960’s, and even President Reagan was willing to compromise a lot, and was predictable, but no longer. Trump relishes calling his opponents “anti-American”, and such a charge sticks like superglue to “the squad”, but doesn’t stick to Republicans in general, and certainly not to Trump. Look at the results in the second bullet point. I say it’s about time the Democrats had an opponent to fear, who can’t be intimidated, who loves the mud as much as they do. Too damn bad.

As far as the headline goes, are you incited to violence by political rhetoric? I’m not. Who is? How about Antifa? How about the anti-I.C.E. protests? How about Islamic radicals? None of those violent, lawless groups need political rhetoric to incite them. They like violence for its thrill. It makes them feel powerful and important. Rhetoric gives them cover for their actions, rather than inciting them.

What have I been saying about language disruption?

In the lexicon of wokeness, the term “inclusive” has achieved greater status than the term “exclusive” has among the zoning codes of the very wealthy hypocritical ultra-liberal neighborhood enclaves. The goal of maximum “inclusion” often requires an energetic scrubbing of language, especially gender terms. This week in California, the Berserkeley Berkeley City Council voted to amend its municipal code to achieve maximum sensitivity for the ever-increasing demands of the gender-smashing left.

As a council member explained, “In recent years, broadening societal awareness of transgender and gender nonconforming identities has brought to light the importance of non-binary gender inclusivity.” It was high time to “make the environment of City Hall and the language of city legislation consistent with the principles of inclusion.” My translation: Our constituents are so confused about what gender they are and so averse to that fact being known that we have to energetically stamp out reality. So says you, but give me exclusive any day.

What are now the Verboten words (Achtung, repeat after me, “Seig Heil, Seig Heil”)? Verboten: fireman, patrolman, policeman, watchman. The council is replacing “manhole” with “maintenance hole.” Berkeley’s language storm troopers reject the term “master,” instead insisting on terms like “captain,””skipper” or “pilot.” Why not Fuhrer? Let’s hope the University of California doesn’t have to change “master’s degree” to “skipper’s degree.” The council also objects to the word “heir,” preferring the term “beneficiaries” even though there’s no gender reference in “heirs.” The dictionary definition is “a person legally entitled to the property or rank of another on that person’s death.” There were other terms on the Berkeley list that suggest the end of gender specificity. “Brother” and “sister” should be rejected for “sibling,” and “fraternity” and “sorority” must be replaced with “collegiate Greek system residence.” Are we choking yet? No? Then read on.

It goes without saying that “mankind” needs to be replaced by “humankind”, but wait, “man” is still in there. How about homo sapiens-kind, no wait, got to get rid of “homo”, so how about “gay sapiens-kind”, even though that species designation is no longer translatable to the Latin. How about “bipedal upright advanced primate”? No? Did you see the Babylon Bee joke that a guy drowned because the other passengers couldn’t yell to the skipper “man overboard” but argued among themselves the proper nomenclature for designating him? I hear the autopsy confirmed the presence of male genitalia and he wore a bracelet with blood type and “I identify as a man.” Too late.

College campuses are especially fertile ground for this kind of speech “correction” exercise. The website Campus Reform reports that Colorado State University’s latest Inclusive Language Guide rejects gender-specific terms like “male,” “female,” “ladies and gentlemen” and “Mr./Mrs./Ms.” It even objects to the term “freshman” as gendered. Perhaps next it will find “sophomore” offensive, since “sophomoric” is a pejorative term and could damage emotional well-being. You can’t say “homosexual,” and you must say “heterosexual” because calling someone “straight” implies that LGBT folks are “crooked.” The most noticeable dictate in the Colorado State list is the scolding of “American” and “America” as noninclusive words “to avoid,” since America encompasses more than just the United States. Referring to the U.S. as America, the guide says, “erases other cultures and depicts the United States as the dominant American country.” Which, of course, it is temporarily, but won’t be if this trend spreads.

The following terms are all categorized as insensitive to African Americans (even if their progenitors aren’t from Africa): “cakewalk,” “eenie meenie miney moe,” “food coma” and “peanut gallery.” Asian Americans might be offended by “long time no see,” because it might sound like Chinese pidgin English, as well as “no can do”, because it sounds like a Korean name. (My favorite insulting ethnic name of all time is from The Three Stooges film, Malice in the Palace. Their antagonist was the Sheik Hassan Ben Sober.) “Hip hip hooray!” is somehow a Holocaust reference, so it’s out. “Starving” is offensive to people who are insecure about food. Saying you’re “addicted” to something like Netflix or pizza is insensitive to “those who are truly experiencing drug addiction.” Please don’t use “basket case,” since that used to refer to a person without limbs. “Hold down the fort” is offensive to Indians — whoops, make that Native Americans. But wait; can we say Native American?

Speaking of which, the show Seinfeld predicted this trend many years ago. In one episode, Jerry was dating Winona, a woman of “Indigenous North American” (is that okay?) heritage, and took her to a restaurant that was very hard to get reservations for, then he had these rare Knicks tickets “from a scalper“, but choked as he started to say those insensitive words. You can watch the episode here, try not to laugh in front of any minorities or “women of color.” Kramer, of course, had no such inhibitions. Hooray (but not hip hip) for him. The opening scene was in Elaine’s apartment, where she was playing cards with women representing a combination of races and skin tones, including the aforementioned lady that Jerry was dating. He was dragging in some large object covered with a sheet, because they had a fight and he wznted to give her a gift to bury the hatchet and smoke the peace pipe.. As they all gave him rapt attention, he unveils a “cigar store Indian” complete with flowing headdress. The gals were not amused, least of all Winona. Their expressions were priceless.

Just in case you think Uncle Curmudgeon is being insensitive, there are some interviews on YouTube with residents of the Navajo reservation, about how they feel about “racist” Indian stuff like names of sports teams and common expressions. The overwhelming consensus was, “outrage and offense is a white person’s problem.” No one in the tribe even cares, it’s too insignificant to get worked up about. They also prefer to solve their own problems without help from clueless white guilt ridden liberals.