American culture frowns on negativity. People who are seen as being mostly negative are shunned and are constantly ducking brickbats thrown by amateur psychologists. But sometimes, it is good to be negative. For instance, I have nothing positive to say about the Trumpf administration, except that he has not pitched us into a global war—yet! (Even that f at the end of his name is negative, no?) Many of my friends say that they are taking a “wait and see” attitude. That I cannot understand.
We are so anti-negative that we sometimes confuse ourselves. The Patriot Act during the last Bush administration was essentially an attack on our liberties, pretending to protect us from terrorism. Hast it? No.
There is a long standing battle between the conservatives and women on the subject of abortion. Both sides are “pro” something: one is pro-life, and the other is pro-choice. How can anyone be against life or a woman’s choice on bearing a child? Here is a list of such euphemisms:
- Passed away instead of died
- Correctional facility instead of jail
- Departed instead of died
- Differently-abled instead of handicapped or disabled
- Ethnic cleansing instead of genocide
- Negative patient outcome instead of dead
- Relocation center instead of prison camp
- Collateral damage instead of accidental deaths
- Downsizing instead of firing someone
- Put to sleep instead of euthanize
- Pregnancy termination instead of abortion
- On the streets instead of homeless
For more examples, check out this website.
Now it seems that every piece of legislation, regardless how nefarious, must bear a positive moniker.
Maybe I react the way I do because I am a Hungarian. My people were on one of the two main invasion paths into Europe—the other was through Poland. When one is the product of a history of almost constant warfare, one is likely to not always look on the bright side of life.
That does not mean that I am, in Spiro T. Agnew’s memorable phrase, a “nattering nabob of negativity”; but I do not lay myself open to accepting arguments solely because they are framed using positive language. No more than I would call a bill urging Republicans to commit suicide the Glorious Sunset Act.