Definition of "Definitional Retreat"
Examples of "Definitional Retreat" include:
What Is Definitional Retreat?
Unlike outright lying about their policies, or projecting their atrocities on Republicans, or giving their corruptocrat spending bills cutesy or ironic names, the evil party (the Democrats) uses definitional retreat — the surreptitious substitution of one concept for another —in public debate as a smoke screen for their protection. It it typically thickened afterward by the compliant media who look America straight in the eye and tell you they weren’t lying.
You need look no further than Bill Clinton’s infamous: “It depends on what the meaning of the word is is.”
But we have current examples that you can name easily, from socialists claiming small, capitalist Nordic countries like Denmark are actually socialist because they seem happy to “mostly peaceful protests” at home during the pandemic:
Side Note on Definitions
Definitional Retreat isn’t really about words. It’s about leftists misrepresenting their arguments based on words. That said, the left is also pretty hard on some otherwise easily understood words, such as:
Definitional Retreat on Fascism
This statement, commonly though falsely attributed to Winston Churchill, is true nonetheless. Antifa (meaning anti-fascist), the modern domestic terrorist organization (that Biden said was only an idea), claims they’re only fighting fascism.
Well, Antifa has a big problem with self-identity and definitions. Antifa is fascism. Antifa promotes socialism and fascism is a socialist policy. It’s exactly like an anti-bullying crusader beating up everyone he doesn’t like. Bullying is his identity, his reason and his excuse.
In The Truth About Socialism, we explore how the left plays with our perception of left-wing/right-wing politics to push fascism and Nazism onto the GOP. The fact is, the Nazis are fascist national socialists. Communists are fascist global socialists. That’s the difference.
Antifa calls Trump and Trump supporters fascists, which is as much projection as it is definitional retreat. No one seems willing to sit down and explain how it’s actually fascism to secure your border against illegal immigrants (along with drugs, cartels and terrorists), or to block high-volume Islamic terrorist countries, or stop flights from China during a Wuhan Virus (AKA COVID) pandemic.
If that’s fascism, EVERY policy to preserve law and order is fascism. The whole world is fascist. In other words, it’s absurd. These antifa thugs are not only fascist bullies, they’re idiots too. They think fascism means anything they don’t like.
Definitional Retreat on CRT
Teachers propagating Critical Race Theory (CRT) claim they are only teaching “honest history”:
This assertion is clearly false (it’s honestly race-bating Marxism). The belief that the United State was founded on systemic white supremacy is absurd to anyone who studies American history.
The Teacher’s Union would not dare debate real (and honest) historians on this subject, because they’ll lose. Here’s why:
Themselves the leading slave traders of the eighteenth century, Europeans nevertheless became, in the nineteenth century, the destroyers of slavery around the world—not just in European societies or European offshoot societies overseas, but in non-European societies as well, over the bitter opposition of Africans, Arabs, Asians, and others. Moreover, within Western civilization, the principal impetus for the abolition of slavery came first from very conservative religious activists—people who would today be called “the religious right.”
What these socialist teachers really want is unfettered access to indoctrinate our children with no questions asked. That’s not going to happen. They claim to have a right to overrule parents and patriots on our children’s education. They don’t.
Definitional Retreat on Race
One of the most egregious examples of blame–shifting involves the Democrat party’s abysmal history of race in America. Their definitional retreat involves one of 3 deflections:
So how does this play out? Sometimes it seems like leftists are simply projecting, and that can be true. However, most people are not Saul Alinsky minions consciously accusing their opponents of what they are doing.
What’s more likely is that they think: “I feel that I’m a good person and my big-government, paternalistic policies help people (see: pathological altruism). Since these limited government, individualist Republicans oppose my policies, they must support America’s racist past. And since I’m not like those past Democrats, Republicans must be the racists!”
If you have a more plausible explanation for how leftists can disassociate themselves from slavery, Reconstruction, Jim Crow, KKK, Indian wars, Japanese internment, and other horrors, and also reasonably accuse those who tried to stop them, namely Conservative Christians, I’d love to hear it.
But we can’t rule out Alinsky and Communist propaganda (Critical Race Theory) either. For leftists, the ultimate goal is power. To maintain power, they don’t want us looking back at the consequences of their actions.
They also rely heavily on the leftist media to cover for them, rewriting history at will. They recently claimed they always supported police (even as leftist DNC-supporting BLM and Antifa carry “Defund the Police” signs), or concoct new definitions of “racism” to include an element of “power” to exclude their racial arsonists like Al Sharpton.
Definitional Retreat on Abortion
Have you ever noticed now specific the terms are in the abortion debate?
Pro-Choice vs Pro-Life
Each side clings to and defends their term tooth and nail, retreating as needed. The Pro-Choice crowd provides ONE choice: killing the unborn child. Choice does NOT include a woman’s responsibility not to get pregnant by reducing risky sexual behaviors, or using contraceptives, or confining sex to marriage, or taking the pregnancy to term and then choosing then whether to keep or offer the baby for adoption.
These choices are not part of Planned Parenthood’s slaughter mill and body parts auction house.
But to oppose it? Their choice may retreat to equal rights: “You’re denying women CHOICE! We fought for EQUAL rights decades ago. So you want to deny us the vote again, put us all barefoot and pregnant, back in the kitchen?”
Or choice retreats to unsafe abortion methods: “So you’re rather have back alley abortions with coat hangers?”
But most commonly, their choice retreats to some sexist patriarchy; “You hate women. This is the Handmaid’s Tale. Stay out of my vagina!” Yes, leftists, asking women to pay for their own damned birth control means getting all up in their vaginas. Sure.
They will also counter by saying the Pro-Life crowd doesn’t actually believe in life because they don’t equally object to capital punishment for convicted murderers. Talk about a definitional retreat fallacy! Their choice to kill over 60 million innocent babies since Roe v. Wade (with a majority in minority communities thanks to Margaret Sanger’s bigotry), is fine but God forbid the hypocrisy of the pro-life argument not extending all the way to death row. (FYI: pro-life is pro-innocent baby, not pro-adult criminal.)
Definitional Retreat in Feminism
As one woman said to me, “Sure, I’m a feminist,” and corrected as I eye-rolled, “Feminism can be whatever the woman defines it as. I think of myself as a Christian feminist.”
No. That’s not how it works. Unfortunately, society defines feminism based on its particular wave:
When caught in a debate over Black Widow or some other 90-pound waif beating up multiple 250-pound Navy Seals, their feminism typically retreats down the waves, going only enough to keep men at their table.
While most people are fine with voting rights for all citizens (it used to be reserved for land owners, mostly men, because they have a greater stake in election outcomes), Second Wave Feminism is more pernicious because it was part of the Communist plan to subvert the family unit and weaken civil society. It pitted women against men, and the consequences to society are still being felt. Long-term studies also show that it didn’t make women any happier or more empowered.
In fact, succeeding generations of women long for the chance to be “just” a home maker. But if you’re not a feminist, you must hate women. Even if you’re women. Because you’re self-hating and voting against your own interests.
And to be honest, I still don’t know what a “Christian feminist” is since in Christ “there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28). That sounds safe enough.
Did I miss any of your favorites?
The left gives us so many examples of Definitional retreat, but if you have a great one, drop me a note below and I’ll add it to the list.
And if you want more like this, also check out:
Pathological altruism is that feel-good, smooth ride highway to hell, paved with good intentions. That is, typically paved by Democrat radicals who lecture the world about so many ills that they either created by their meddling or made worse by their intervention.
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