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Why did Liberal and Neo-con become offensive labels?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Over the last 10-20 years, the label Liberal became offensive so that people are now giving themselves a different label for the same beliefs.

As I was reading the IMO Warning about tolerance thread, I found that the same is happening with the neoconservative label though most mainstream newspapers still use it to define someone who subscribes to a certain set of beliefs.

Example - Time Leading neoconservative thinker Norman Podhoretz is back, and so is the campaign to bomb Iran.

So why is it now offensive to use the term neoconserative or liberal when describing a force in our political arena? Is it because their ideas and beliefs have come under ridicule and people don't want to associate themselves with it?

I did come across this comment in commentary, The Fashionable Perjorative by Barry Gewen Not long ago, a well-known culture critic with strong neoconservative inclinations told me he was reluctant to be forthright about his political views because “once the label ‘neoconservative’ becomes attached to you, people stop listening to what you have to say.†There’s no question that “neoconservative†has become, in many quarters of both the left and right, a fashionable pejorative, to be casually tossed about, and just as casually misapplied.

When and why do you find the use of these terms offensive? And do we resort to labeling because we don't know how to properly debate the issues instead?
post #2 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by katachtig View Post
And do we resort to labeling because we don't know how to properly debate the issues instead?
BINGO!!! Just another "easy-fix" way to justify not considering another point of view!!
post #3 of 13
It's interesting, I never knew that "liberal" was considered offensive to some until IMO opened and we got into the political realm. I'm a "conservative" and I have never been offended by that term - I just considered "liberal" to be the same way when I used it as a way to describe a political idealogical position in one word instead of about 20. Apparently I was wrong. Now "liberal" is being changed within their own circles to "progressive" even though it means the same thing, from what I can tell. But when I used the term "liberal" I personally didn't mean in with a sneer or in a snide manner, but that is how it was read by those who were being defined by that term.

Semantics is so much fun!
post #4 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by valanhb View Post
It's interesting, I never knew that "liberal" was considered offensive to some until IMO opened and we got into the political realm. I'm a "conservative" and I have never been offended by that term - I just considered "liberal" to be the same way when I used it as a way to describe a political idealogical position in one word instead of about 20. Apparently I was wrong. Now "liberal" is being changed within their own circles to "progressive" even though it means the same thing, from what I can tell. But when I used the term "liberal" I personally didn't mean in with a sneer or in a snide manner, but that is how it was read by those who were being defined by that term.

Semantics is so much fun!
I think a lot of people "hear" "bleeding heart liberal" when they read "liberal", and the former term has been around at least as long as I've been able to read. My impression is that the expression was used a lot during the Vietnam War and Civil Rights Act era.
post #5 of 13
I think a lot of people hear, "neo-nazi's" when they hear "neo-con's"
Personally I don't care if someone thinks I am a neo-con but I would be willing to bet money that "neo-con" HAS been used here with a sneer, same as people think "liberal" is said with a sneer. Goes both ways I guess.
post #6 of 13
I've been asking myself that same question about lots of different words for years. If you look up "offensive words" or "disparaging terms", you will probably be amazed (I was ) at the shear number of what used to be common words that are now considered offensive.
post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 
I guess I have problems with labels anyway. In social issues, I tend to be liberal (society should help those who are less fortunate, companies should have some regulation to protect the consumer and the environment). But when it comes to fiscal beliefs, I believe in free-trade, equal opportunity to the market, and personal responsibility.

Which is why the Democrats and Republicans disappoint me.
post #8 of 13
I think liberal became a bad word when the Democratic party was perceived as taken over by the hippie, anti-war, radical, free love, druggie youth movement at the end of the 60s and beginning of the 70s. The protesters at the 1968 Democratic Party Convention in Chicago really pushed things over the edge.

That's when the conservatives took advantage and Reagan was elected. Eventually that led to the Neo-Conservatives of the Bush Administration.

The pendalum is now swinging back.

Let's hope it stops somewhere nearer the middle this time. I say this even though I am a liberal myself. I stop short of anarchy and violence in the name of any political movement.

BTW I see Progressives used by Democrats more and more. I'm not sure exactly where it's originating, but it seems to be used to mean people that are more to the left than Democrats like the Clintons. People whose beliefs are closer to John Edwards and Dennis Kucinich.
post #9 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by katachtig View Post
I guess I have problems with labels anyway. In social issues, I tend to be liberal (society should help those who are less fortunate, companies should have some regulation to protect the consumer and the environment). But when it comes to fiscal beliefs, I believe in free-trade, equal opportunity to the market, and personal responsibility.

Which is why the Democrats and Republicans disappoint me.
That's why I say that I'm governmentally conservative and socially libertarian. The straight term of "conservative" doesn't really apply any more because of the social/morality based conservatism that has come to the forefront with this administration and supporters. So anymore, it doesn't matter that I'm personally Pro-Life and politically Pro-Choice, I would rather just say that I'm socially libertarian (meaning "government needs to stay the heck out of my personal business!").

But see, isn't it easier to just say "I consider myself Liberal with economic conservative leanings" than say the whole paragraph you wrote? That's why, I think, people use labels. I may be naive but I don't think that using labels should automatically be assumed to be a bad thing, just a contraction on delineating a belief structure.

The problem comes with the differences in definition. (I told ya semantics is fun! ) I.e. Liberal can mean the political belief system, or inferring the "tree hugging, hippy liberal" from the Viet Nam era. Fundamentalist Christian can mean taking the Bible as literal fact, or cult-like fanaticism based on using religious texts to perpetuate their hatred of another (i.e. Fundamentalist Muslim means Terrorist according to the media).
post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by valanhb View Post
The problem comes with the differences in definition. (I told ya semantics is fun! ) I.e. Liberal can mean the political belief system, or inferring the "tree hugging, hippy liberal" from the Viet Nam era. Fundamentalist Christian can mean taking the Bible as literal fact, or cult-like fanaticism based on using religious texts to perpetuate their hatred of another (i.e. Fundamentalist Muslim means Terrorist according to the media).
So very true - humans are so successful on the planet because of their ability to recognize patterns. It speeds up processing information. However, it is filling in the details that causes so many problems with labels. Everyone imparts his own experiences to create the picture.
post #11 of 13
I think the term Liberal became associated with people who are on the extreme left and that was where it picked up a negative meaning with a large group of the public. Now people who are on the extreme left are calling themselves Progressive so in time that will have a negative meaning for many people. Many people who were at the beginning of the Neo-Con movement were actually people who had been on the extreme left. I think some people just take everything no matter what the belief system to it's extreme. Unfortunately for quite a while now each party has been catering to the extreme, Democrats to the extreme Left, Republicans to the extreme Right. They have been thinking of those extremes as their base. The majority of people in the country are actually somewhere in the middle, some a little to the right and some a little to the left. It used to be said that someone had to govern from the Center but too many have been trying to govern from the extreme.
post #12 of 13
http://pdamerica.org/index.php

This seems to be the group that is using the word progressive to explain a point-of-view of a group within the Democratic Party.

This want to end the war in Iraq, improve education, have a better health care program, limit corporate rights, and they want impeachment.

John Edwards is their man because he wants to limit corporate rights.

The like Kucinich because of his health care proposal and because he has introduced impeachment.

You can read it to see their other choices.

Since Edwards has dropped out they are moving toward Obama.
post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Denice View Post
I think the term Liberal became associated with people who are on the extreme left and that was where it picked up a negative meaning with a large group of the public. Now people who are on the extreme left are calling themselves Progressive so in time that will have a negative meaning for many people. Many people who were at the beginning of the Neo-Con movement were actually people who had been on the extreme left. I think some people just take everything no matter what the belief system to it's extreme. Unfortunately for quite a while now each party has been catering to the extreme, Democrats to the extreme Left, Republicans to the extreme Right. They have been thinking of those extremes as their base. The majority of people in the country are actually somewhere in the middle, some a little to the right and some a little to the left. It used to be said that someone had to govern from the Center but too many have been trying to govern from the extreme.
This makes sense to me. The process of getting elected officials has become a very painful process. Because those on the extreme are the ones who dominate the primary/caucus process, they are the ones catered to so we end up with candidates more on the edges and there is a big gap in the middle. The way for that to be fixed is for the more moderates to get involved in the early process.

But as I say this, I'm not doing it. This would mean committing to one party or the other because as an independent, I can't vote in the primaries. I'm not ready to make that commitment.
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