‘Insurrection’ Redefined in the Revolutionary Dictionary

January 15, 2021 Updated: January 19, 2021


“Insurrection” is the name that Democrats have settled upon to describe the “high crime” President Donald Trump is supposed to be guilty of, in order to justify their vote to impeach him.

Until Jan. 6, an insurrection was defined as “armed rebellion,” but I think you will find that that definition no longer appears in the Democrats’ revolutionary dictionary.

It’s just one of the words they have redefined while we old-fashioned speakers of English weren’t looking.

Last September in these pages (what a long time ago it now seems!), I pointed to the redefinition of the word “lie”—first, during the George W. Bush era, to mean mistake (as in the “lie” about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq) and then, more recently, by the so-called fact-checkers of the age of Trump to mean no more than something that they disagree with.

It’s important to keep up with these changes in the language, as you can get in trouble nowadays if you don’t. Especially if you are now or ever have been a Republican or a Trump supporter.

There are some among that disreputable bunch, for example, who still apply the words “hypocrites” or “racists” to Democrats or the more radical of those who support them—in apparent ignorance of the fact that these words have now been re-defined so as to apply only to themselves.

As applied to revolutionary Democrats, “hypocrisy” is now to be known as “whataboutism” instead—and to reflect back negatively onto the accuser rather than the accused.

Likewise, “racism” is now something that only white people can be guilty of. It once meant invidious discrimination (by anyone) based on race, but it now means only something said or done by white people that’s displeasing to one or more persons of color—such as not using revolutionary jargon terms like “persons of color.” Are persons of color, then, the same as colored people? No! That is a term that only racists use.

It’s not so confusing, once you get the hang of it. The new speech police will explain it to you if you’re having trouble. At least on a first offense. Probably.

‘Sexual Preference’

You might not get off so lucky, however, if you use the term “sexual preference.” As we learned in last autumn’s hearings on the Supreme Court nomination of Amy Coney Barrett, that term—until then generally thought to be unexceptionable—can now only be used by bigots seeking to deny that gay or transgender people were “born that way,” in the words of the song.

If you know what’s good for you in this age of media supremacy and its concomitant cancel culture, you need to be aware of a few more terms of art in our political life that have been lately redefined in the revolutionary dictionary.

“Socialism,” for example, used to mean ownership by the state of the means of production and distribution. Now, it only means whatever Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or Sen. Bernie Sanders has most recently said that it means.

In a sort of inversion of the process by which “insurrection” has now been redefined, we learned last summer that “peaceful” (or “mostly peaceful”) now means violence, so long as it is practiced by Antifa or Black Lives Matter revolutionaries, or against the police.

“Antifa” itself was redefined on the fly by President-elect Joe Biden in one of last fall’s debates to mean no more than “an idea”—not, that is, in any way applying to the gang of thugs in Portland, Oregon, or Seattle, who have been attacking the police (and others) in those cities for months.

That also gives you an idea of how the word “debate” has also been redefined to mean “mindless repetition of insulting language and imputations of immorality by one political faction against another.”

I can no longer remember what the word used to mean.


Getting back to “insurrection,” the reason for its redefinition isn’t far to seek. In the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, added in the aftermath of the Civil War (1861–65), it says that anyone guilty of insurrection against the United States shall not be eligible to hold elective office in the United States.

The authors of that amendment pretty obviously had in mind those Confederate “rebels” (as they were then called) who had just fought a bloody war against the United States. Hence: armed rebellion.

But now, it appears, that definition has been broadened. You don’t have to take up arms against the United States to be guilty of insurrection anymore. Since Jan. 6, all you have to do is use the word “fight”—or, possibly, “wild”—in an address (or a tweet) to your supporters, some of whom later prove unruly, and—boom! You’re guilty of insurrection.

At least you are if you’re Trump and therefore, a certified “threat to democracy.”

Guess what! Democracy is another of those words that the revolutionary dictionary has kindly redefined for us. It used to be generally understood to mean “rule by the people”—or, since that was impractical in a country of this size, “rule by the men or women that a majority of the people voted for.”

This definition the revolutionaries of the appropriately named Democratic Party now mean to change to: “rule by the person or persons that a majority of the people voted for—so long as that person is not Trump.” He’s ineligible, you see, now that he’s been deemed guilty of insurrection.

If you’re thinking of objecting to this linguistic legerdemain on the grounds of fairness, however, forget it. “Free speech” has also been redefined so as to apply only to speech approved by the revolutionary tribunal of the Democrats.

Oh, wait. That redefinition isn’t scheduled to come into effect until next week. For now, free speech means speech that is free for anyone who isn’t Trump.

Or his supporters. There’s one more word that has now been redefined, according to the latest news. That word is “unity.” If you thought that it meant a coming together of people who agree to sink their differences in a common cause, you’re out of date.

According to the Jan. 13 USA Today, there can be no unity that includes supporters of Trump. A professor (at the Naval War College, no less) there tells readers that there is to be “no unity until his morally bankrupt defenders get over him and repent.”

“Repent?” What do you suppose a word borrowed from religion is doing in this context? I think I’ll leave you to work that out for yourselves.

But are you beginning to see a pattern here? All these redefinitions by the revolutionists have one thing in common: They all serve to make thought or discourse impossible, unless it serves the revolution.

James Bowman is a resident scholar at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. The author of “Honor: A History,” he is a movie critic for The American Spectator and the media critic for the New Criterion.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.