The new code word used by liberals to explain how sub-human and irrational conservatives are is “dog whistle“. A “dog whistle” is a word or phrase used in a speech or column which has a special meaning to a particular subgroup of the population. The metaphor is of an actual dog whistle which can be heard by dogs, but not by humans. So a number of columnists ( also here and here) suggested that the term “blood libel” used by Sarah Palin was a “dog whistle” to Evangelical Christians, signalling them to . . . I don’t know . . . anti-semitacally froth at the mouth? Different commentators reach different conclusions.
The term, allegedly originated in Australian politics and is used, almost exclusively to describe conservative, rather than liberal politics. It is a slander in and of itself. It reveals an enormous amount about the broken nature of our culture and our politics.
First, it says that people who hold conservative positions aren’t really human. They are dogs. There is a meaning to the metaphors used by any group. A dog whistle is used to signal to dogs. The literal meaning of the metaphor is that humans can’t hear it.
Second, in its laughable applications, it shows the extent to which the liberal elites are almost completely disconnected from the people they seek to govern. One commentator, referred to above, claims the phrase “blood libel” was a dog whistle to evangelical Christians suggesting that there was something anti-Israel in the attacks on Palin. This assumes that most evangelicals have ever even heard the term “blood libel” before. I haven’t done a survey but I suspect that they attach no specific meaning to the term beyond the meaning most would associate with the term– a false accusation that someone is guilty of a bloody crime. The phrase has been in use for awhile, see for example its use in analyzing a speech of President Bush in 2006 in which he referred to the Iraq war as looking like a comma. The analysis of the supposed “dog whistles” is even more dehumanizing to conservatives than the subtext of the phrase. The discussions resemble dispassionate analyses of the composition of pond scum. Conservative politicians no longer have any say in what they mean when they use certain words, according to these liberal fantasists. Only the fantasists can really know what conservatives mean.
I use the word fantasist deliberately. These people aspire to be, claim to be, try to create the appearance of being, intellectuals. But their analysis is based entirely on what they imagine conservatives think. And, most important, they steadfastly refuse to accept the premise that conservatives know what conservatives think. They refuse to accept that premise because that premise assumes that conservatives are capable of minimally intelligent thought.
Instead, the new liberal art form is creating “dog whistle” fantasys about what conservatives really mean. Now we are a bunch of dogs following masters who communicate with us by use of dog whistles.