Hi, friends. It’s been a couple months since I last stirred the pot, so here goes nothing.
Back in November, I wrote a post about my former obsession with politics. When I started reading scripture hot and heavy 1-2 years ago–along with lots of Christian blog posts–a change crept on me.
Hebrews tells us that the Word is a double-edged sword, and I’ve found that to be accurate. Realizing the extent of my idolatry has been painful, but I can reflect and admit that the Lord’s pruning genuinely made (and is still making) me a better person.
One of my personal epiphanies in this process is that I had politicized language. Words and phrases translated as dog whistles to me because I was so invested in politics that it colored how I viewed everything.
The politicization of language makes clear and productive conversation almost impossible. People already tend to think about what they’ll say next rather than truly listening; add in some reading (hearing) dog whistles between the lines, and people might as well be speaking different languages.
So here are a few phrases that became dog whistles to me. I was going to include examples from both sides of the aisle, but I’m falling back on the phrase “Write what you know” and sticking with my personal, authentic experiences and revelations.
Since I view life from a Christian lens now, I will counter the political-dog-whistle interpretations with a Biblical perspective.
Because of the derogatory term “social justice warrior” that some conservatives use to mock some liberals, the term “social justice” is now a dog whistle for leftist social views. [Ex: White people are privileged, abortion is a woman’s right, etc.]
God in the Old Testament and Jesus in the New Testament emphasize social justice–treating everyone equally in court, caring for the poor and marginalized, etc. It is reasonable to disagree with some leftist talking points about social justice…but resenting the term altogether is like throwing out the baby with the bath water! Christians should support the general concept of social justice.
Does it reflect Christ to taunt someone for being a “social justice warrior?”
The phrase “Girl Power” put a bad taste in my mouth because it became a dog whistle for feminism. For many, “feminism” is now a dog whistle for misandry and women who always claim to be oppressed.
Women play vital roles throughout the Bible, from Deborah as a judge of Israel to Priscilla as one of Paul’s ministry partners; many examples exist in scripture. I believe that the Lord does support “Girl Power” in the sense that women are intelligent and important. I would rather tout the phrase “God Power” because the first will be last, and I’m not the one who belongs on the pedestal.
I now view the phrase as being fairly innocuous instead of reading an agenda into it.
Since this has been dubbed a left-wing issue, any language related to environmental care has become a dog whistle for leftist policies. More specifically, the dog whistle implies higher taxes, more regulations, etc.
When God created each aspect of the Earth, He stopped to remark that it was good. How arrogant of humans to decide that His good creation is less important than wealth. Treasures in heaven, anyone?
We need to assess all the facts and balance policy ideas with financial viability, but again, there’s a huge difference between compromise and throwing out the baby with the bath water.
Some have developed such a distaste for this dog whistle that any mention of conservation–even just recycling–sparks a flame of anger. Forgetting environmental policy for a second, there’s no reason Christians shouldn’t support local environmental care methods such as not littering, recycling, conserving resources, even picking up trash as a community mission. Let’s be good stewards and faithful servants, brothers and sisters!
I’m wary of how this post will be received, but sometimes, the truth must be spoken in love–many of us have made our political ideologies our idols.
If you are obsessed as I once was, try my method–
- Stop reading your favorite news site and feeling outraged every time they tell you to feel outraged
- Stop engaging in social media disagreements
- Start reading the Bible, particularly Paul’s letters about Christian community
- Be transformed!
Thanks for reading! What do you think about the politicization of language or about the degradation of civil debate in general? Do you have other examples of dog whistles? Let me know in the comments.