Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Military Impeachment?

The blog Hullaballoo has a post with some of the more outrageous euphemisms that right-wing bloggers have used to describe the recent coup d'etat that overthrew Manuel Zelaya, the democratically elected leader of Honduras. Right-wing blogger Ed Morrissey at Hot Air has coined the most Orwellian euphemism, by referring to the ousting of Zelaya as a military impeachment. Normally, I would shrug this off as standard Orwellian mangling of the English language, if the word "impeachment" did not bring up remembrances of Bill Clinton's impeachment in 1998.

Before the end of the Cold War, the American right wing would justify antidemocratic coups abroad, by arguing that these coups were necessary to save American democracy from Soviet dictatorship. Even if you did not believe that the antidemocratic coups were necessary, the right-wing argument had some teeny tiny shred of plausibility simply because of the Soviet Union's existence. Now that the Cold War is over and the Soviet Union no longer exists, this argument no longer meets the lowest standards of plausibility. Instead, the right wing has transferred its antidemocratic impulses from coups in Latin America, Asia, and Africa to working out their antidemocratic impulses here in the United States. Hence, you see post-Cold War politics characterized by right-wing antidemocratic maneuvers such as the Clinton impeachment, the Supreme Court's negation of Al Gore's popular vote victory, increased voter suppression laws, and the Brooks Brothers riot that shut down the Florida recount. Juxtaposing the word "military" with the word "impeachment" has ominous overtones, not only for democracy in Honduras, but for democracy in the United States as well.

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