'Forward': Suddenly a Sinister Word?
F orward. It seems like such a nice, positive word. We call someone with foresight "forward-thinking." When you repay a good deed done for you by doing a similar favor for someone else, we call that "paying it forward." When traveling, moving forward is a good thing. So you'd think no one could have a problem with an upbeat word like "forward."
You'd think so, but you'd be wrong. Because in the dark and scary thicket of paranoia that is the right-wing mind, there is no word that cannot be turned into something fraught with secret and sinister meaning, especially when that word is used by or on behalf of the man they regard as the embodiment of pure evil, President Barack Obama.
So when the Obama campaign revealed that its slogan for 2012 was, simply, "Forward," the reaction was predictable.
See, the right wing realizes that the president is a better campaigner than their guy, Lord Mitt "Etch a Sketch" Romney. Obama's more natural, is a better speaker, and connects better with people than Mitt, who often seems like an alien trying to get the hang of acting like a human being.
So they're going to gripe and whine and complain whenever the president campaigns at all, as if it's somehow unseemly of him not to graciously step aside and let their guy win by default. Every campaign speech will be denounced as "divisive" regardless of content. Every appearance will draw howls of outrage over the cost of transportation and security. Every commercial is going to be treated like some sort of affront to the very idea of democracy.
Their reaction to the slogan is no different, and neither is their usual scattershot, muddled and generally crack-brained reaction to it.
"Communist leaders frequently used - and still use - the word 'forward," blogger Joel Pollak of Breitbart.com pointed out. The word "has a long and rich history with European Marxism," said The Washington Times.
On the other hand, Jim Hoft of Gateway Pundit, who can be reliably counted on to exceed your wildest dreams of sheer lunacy, claimed that "Forward" had been a "marching song of the Hitler Youth" and emphasized the point by posting a picture of marching Nazis wearing Obama pins so that his dumber readers (which is to say, all of them) wouldn't miss the point.
So let me get this straight. By using one common English word, the president demonstrates that he's both a communist and a fascist, even though those two ideologies spent a big chunk of the 20th century at each other's throats.
It's too bad they couldn't have come up with some quote from the Quran that uses the word "forward" so they could claim the wingnut trifecta, in which the raging right insists that Obama is a fascist, a Godless communist, and a fanatical Muslim jihadist all at the same time.
But wait! It seems that "Forward" also is the state motto of Wisconsin, whose current governor is right-wing union-busting hero Scott Walker, at least for the time being. Does this mean that Walker is a fascist or a communist, or both, for not immediately having the slogan changed?
I read that the slogan hung on banners at Richard Nixon's 1969 inauguration was "Forward Together." So maybe Nixon was a Marxist, too. Sort of throws the whole China trip into a whole new light, doesn't it?
George Bush the Elder's 1987 campaign autobiography was called "Looking Forward." Before that, even St. Ronnie Reagan titled a famous speech in 1986 "Forward to Freedom."
OMG, as the kids say on the Internet! The entire Republican Party has, for years, been riddled with Marxists! Or fascists! Or something.
Mitt Romney, on the other hand, started his campaign with the slogan "Believe in America." If that sounds familiar, it's because it's been used before, by Democrat John Kerry.
Which makes sense, since Romney is the John Kerry of the Republican party: a rich, entitled Massachusetts moderate trying to convince his party's skeptical base he's one of them, despite having once supported the thing that base purports to despise most (the Iraq War in Kerry's case, the individual mandate in Romney's). Both are running against a controversial incumbent on a platform that amounts to "I'm Not Him." And we all know how that turned out.
Romney would be well advised to drop a slogan with such negative historical baggage for something more appropriate to him. Like "Backward." After all, that's where he and his party want to take us.
Dusty Rhoades lives, writes and practices law in Carthage. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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