Words have been redefined for political purposes for a long time. In 2021, however, euphemisms are spreading with particular celerity. So Cockburn has decided to proffer the masses a short, handy little guide.

Example: the Clubhouse app has become increasingly popular with tech leaders and other mild public figures. But the New York Times’s Taylor Lorenz is mad, because she and other reporters keep getting blocked by the ‘far-right‘ people they want to monitor for potential crimethink.

When you don’t want to be perpetually monitored by hostile, frequently dishonest members of the press, it turns out that is an offense against ‘accountability.’

Reckoning: When something enormously destructive is taking place, but you have to support it anyway because the victims deserved it somehow.

Example: Too many to count. When high schooler Mimi Groves lost her college spot because a classmate released a tape of her saying the n-word three years earlier at the age of 15, it wasn’t a warped, media-abetted act of sociopathic sadism. It was a ‘reckoning’.

Much better! Similarly, the nation’s worst rioting in a half-century, coupled with a surge of homicides and frenzied obliteration of historic monuments, wasn’t a cowardly surrender to mob rule. It was a ‘racial reckoning.’ Even eight months after the death of George Floyd, motorists in Minneapolis, Chicago, and elsewhere are being reckoned by the hundreds.

Problematic: ‘There is a problem, but I refuse to say what the problem is or why it’s a problem, because attempting to do so would expose me as an idiot, a totalitarian, or both.’

Example: A recent New York Times piece discussed the rise of messaging apps like Telegram and Signal which haven’t received the loving embrace of censorship. Tech writer Brian Chen weighed in:

‘I confess that I am worried about Telegram. Other than private messaging, people love to use Telegram for group chats — up to 200,000 people can meet inside a Telegram chat room. That seems problematic.’

The only ‘problem’ here is that significant numbers of people can engage in speech and free association without being held ‘accountable.’ It would be so much easier if Brian just said that!

Marginalization: Having to endure the existence of your critics in any way.

Example: Vox’s Aja Romano just put out a rather long piece about how, if the world cares about transgender rights, it can never allow another piece of Harry Potter media ever again. In fact, if J.K. Rowling faces anything less than complete, permanent, and perpetual personal destruction, if she is allowed to earn one more bronze knut of money from something totally unrelated to politics, then it means Romano has been ‘marginalized.’ This may sound like an exaggeration, but Romano actually says it:

‘Accepting new Harry Potter means accepting that trans people will be overlooked, will have their concerns and their sorrow pushed aside — by Rowling, by Hollywood, by anyone who continues to work with Rowling and promote or publish her works, and by the society that has yet to repudiate her into obsolescence. When we use words like “marginalized” to describe trans communities and other vulnerable communities, this is exactly the kind of thing we mean. This is marginalization in action.’

This is not a political issue: ‘This is definitely a political issue, but we’re not going to allow any debate about it.’

Example: Did you think America’s institutions were broadly fine, and not in need of being wholly gutted for a fever-dream crusade against racism? Tough luck. It turns out racism is ‘not a political issue.’

Don’t like surrendering your personal liberty, your livelihood, and your dignity for an entire year over a virus that lockdowns wholly failed to contain? No dice there, either. Dr Fauci says coronavirus ‘is not a political issue,’ so you really can’t debate about it. What a shame!

Insurrection: A ‘mostly peaceful’ protest by a group with bad PR.