Abolish Reductive Slogans & Defund Shorthand:

Photo by Maria Oswalt on Unsplash

The Left Should Stop Giving Ammunition to the Right

I get it.

“Reallocate public safety funding to privilege human services over more martial, reactive, and repressive modalities” may not quite have the pith and punch of “Defund the Police.”

And, “Comprehensive immigration reform should be thoughtful, humane, and precisely focused and calibrated, rather than centered on the use of force, family separation, and other punitive measures” is perhaps a little more wordy than “Abolish ICE.”

I get the appeal of the two- or three-word alternatives.


“Defund the Police” and “Abolish ICE” are STUPID slogans for progressives to get behind — in a presidential election year, no less!

They give the Repubs and the Trumpists ammunition on a silver platter: “See, those people all want to tear down any structure in society that maintains order! You can’t trust them with power. They’ll throw open the borders, close the jails, and let anarchy reign in America’s streets! They’re telling you that, right up front!”

Often, we get it right.

“No Justice? No Peace!” (or “Know Justice: Know Peace!”) makes perfect sense.

“There can be no peace until we truly have a just society”?

You can sing or write that.

If chanting, shouting, or call-and-response is your thing?

The four-word, street version doesn’t lose or confuse anybody.

I don’t have any problem with radical solutions. And I don’t have any problem with stating them bluntly: “Abolish Private Medical Insurance”?

Some people might object to the message, but the message is perfectly clear.

Exactly what it is that you are asking for with “Abolish ICE” or “Defund the Police,” however is really not clear — often to two people, standing side by side, and chanting the same words.

The Right is going to mis-define and smear the Left no matter what (and, no, I don’t think there’s parity here regarding the degree of “reality distortion” across the political spectrum: the Repubs, for many years now, have become proudly “reality indifferent”).

The seductive appeal of a pithy chant notwithstanding?

Progressives should refuse to embrace the sort of reductive and easily repurposed language that all but does the right wing propagandists’ work for them.

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