Liberals and conservatives don't attack one another in the same ways. The Oxford English Dictionary released a blog post about the differences in slurs hurled across the political aisle, but the data, gathered in 2014, feels dusty, as if it were culled entirely from emails forwarded by grandmas. The findings don't square with our current reality, where a meme of a president, elevated by message and image boards, has turned our entire political discourse into a comment thread.
Some political insult truths remain constant. The right tends to go for pithy but broad slaps across the face, while the left seems to go for too-cute-by-half allusions or apt but un-sexy descriptive labels. This disparity in attack methods makes it difficult for direct one-to-one comparisons. But I chose to go ahead and write a guide to insults used by the right so, in the interest of parity, here's an attempt at cataloging the zings used by the left.
Long before internet subcultures were overtly affiliated with political parties, members of these groups were referred to as losers who live in their parents' basement and rarely leave to see the light of day. The left has simply used the transitive property to deliver this insult to Trump supporters. Basement dweller = internet subculture = 4chan = Pepe = Alt-Right = Trump supporter.
Donald Trump was one of the key figureheads in perpetuating the thoroughly debunked conspiracy theory that asserts Barack Obama forged his birth certificate because he was born in Kenya, not Hawaii, thus making him an illegitimate president according to Article II of the Constitution.
The birther thing could've remained a weird little racist footnote in the history books. Then, last year, Donald Trump dredged it up by falsely claiming that Hillary Clinton had invented the theory and that he had "settled" it.
A play on "truther," a term for one who believes the conspiracy theory that 9/11 was an inside job, the birther label is primarily used as an ad hominem attack that would discredit the target. "If they believe Obama was born in Kenya, why should we care about their thoughts on…"
Conservatives are the primarily party concerned with the (nonexistent) encroachment of Sharia law within the US. An insult mentioning Christian Sharia is pointing out the irony of the group most opposed to Islamic religious-based laws entering the country being the same that cites the Bible when pushing for legislation that would overturn Roe v. Wade or allow for discrimination against homosexuals.
Many consider Donald Trump to be nothing more than a simple con man with an inheritance safety net. Between the settlements for his sham university or the myriad lawsuits filed against him for fleecing contractors, it's easy to understand why the left asserts that his supporters have been emotionally defrauded in a similar fashion.
A portmanteaux of conspiracy theorist + retard. Pretty uninspired tbh.
Hillary Clinton made the mistake of referring to Trump supporters who are racist, homophobic, xenophobic, and otherwise unsavory characters as a "basket of deplorables." This was dumb. Trump fans immediately glommed on to the word "deplorable," adopting it as a badge of honor, emblazoning it on T-shirts, hats, and Twitter handles.
On the February 28, 2016 episode of Last Week Tonight, John Oliver explained that Donald Trump's ancestral family name was, in fact, "Drumpf," but changed over time. When levied at one of Trumps supporters (e.g. calling them a "Drumpf supporter"), this insult wrongly assumes that a) the supporter isn't already aware of Donald's "real" name and b) that this person doesn't care. This insult has the added bonus of yielding any high ground the insulter may have had.
If someone on the left calls Trump, his administration, or those who would support his administration fascist, it's probably because the administration has displayed fascistic tendencies.
Using the 14 characteristics of fascism enumerated by Dr. Lawrence Britt, who academically compared numerous fascist regimes, we see that the Trump administration ticks all 14 boxes: 1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism, 2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights, 3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause, 4. Supremacy of the Military, 5. Rampant Sexism, 6. Controlled Mass Media, 7. Obsession with National Security, 8. Religion and Government are Intertwined, 9. Corporate Power is Protected, 10. Labor Power is Suppressed, 11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts, 12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment, 13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption, 14. Fraudulent Elections.
In a staggering collective display of cognitive dissonance, Trump supporters and the man himself have a tendency to refer to any news source that challenges their world view as "fake news." In response, liberals have taken to using the phrase against the right. Generally when calling out actual instances of shady journalism.
Milo Yianoppoulos, the weaponized diversity deployed by the right as proof that minorities can be as shitty as majorities, was banned from Twitter last year for leading an attack on actress and comedian Leslie Jones. Since then, the left has directed traffic to his deactivated profile as a sort of schadenfreudistic Rick Roll whenever news of the lad surfaces. Like this reddit post, titled "Milo responds to Hillary's anti Alt-right speech!"
Do you really need all of these explained in detail? The right is widely regarded as the anti-women side. Hence, y'know, the whole Women's March thing.
A neckbeard is a slur for a portly internet denizen who, either in an attempt to hide his multiple chins or purely via laziness, grows an unkempt mane of facial hair on his neck. As the realms of internet subcultures and Trump supporters have meshed, the insult has taken on a more politically charged tone.
An embarrassing garbage pile of an insult only used by indignant left-of-center PTA moms, "Re-thug-lican" is awful in not just its clunkiness, but also in its reinforcement of the notion that liberals are a bunch of hall monitors calling out mean ol' bullies.
Before, during, and after his upset win of the presidential election, Donald Trump has insisted that the cards were stacked against him. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, he and his supporters have bemoaned the election results. Like many other items on this list, liberals have simply adopted this term as a mocking retort of their own, employing it as a means of taunting the commander-in-chief or his denizens whenever they complain about faltering polling numbers, political opposition, or even the weather not being to their liking.
A favorite interjection of Trump's, Sad! (and that exclamation mark is crucial) has also been co-opted by the left to lampoon him. Best when paired with a fact or news story that would probably get under the president's notoriously thin skin.
The tug of war over insult ownership is nowhere more pronounced than with snowflake. Primarily used by the right to taunt the assumed preciousness and entitlement of the left, liberals have taken to returning fire with the very word used to attack them.
Whether unintentional or calculated, the world's top coffee chain can't seem to avoid the cultural battlefield. After a manufactured November protest (that, for some reason, included buying the company's products) and the above linked controversies, some on the left have taken to referencing a Starbucks cup as a means of highlighting just how short the taking offense fuse is for some on the right.
Primarily used as a rebuttal to a flagrant lie being spouted by Kellyanne Conway, "Sure, Jan" turns Christine Taylor's condescending sibling jab from 1995's The Brady Bunch Movie into a doubtful burn for the masses.
The Tea Party isn't really a thing anymore, so this insult is sadly a bit of an endangered species. But it deserves mentioning as it's referencing not just the vehicle by which tea leaves are steeped in hot water, but also the act of dipping one's testicles onto another person's face.
A way to describe supporters of Donald Trump, this insult is popular partially because it rolls off the tongue so nicely and also because it alludes to a blumpkin, a sexual act where a blowjob recipient is simultaneously taking a shit.
Less impressive than the previous entry, the Trumpster insult is an awkward mashup of dumpster and Trump. Nobody really calls people they don't like dumpsters, so this comes off as forced. "Cum Trumpster," on the other hand, has untapped potential.
Vanilla ISIS / Y'all Qaeda / YeeHawdists
Twitter users enjoy cracking wise and, when some rednecks holed up in an Oregon federal building and engaged in an armed standoff with law enforcement, the social media site went in on them, firing off a flurry of burns that compared the inept, gun-toting fighters to Middle Eastern terrorist groups.
The assumption that the right is less intelligent is woven into a fair amount of the left's insults and has been for decades. This slam plays on that stereotype, insinuating that the opposition is unable to handle the complexities of a bowknot.
Wrong Side of History
By most metrics, society, as a whole, has become increasingly progressive over time. Labor rights, women's rights, civil rights, and gay rights were all hard fought movements eventually won by progressive ideology. Progressives view these coups as evidence that conservatives, who are, by definition, diametrically opposed to progressives, are bound to wind up on the losing team in the long run, whatever the cultural battle may be. Though all evidence points to liberals being right in this sentiment, they could stand to come up with a less shit-eating way of expressing it.
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