In Part 1 of this series, Examples of “The Wrong Side of History,“ we considered how some people use the phrase, “the wrong side of history.” In Part 2, The Origin, Meaning, and The Ambiguity of The Phrase: “The Wrong Side of History,” we reviewed what we reviewed articles about the origin of the phrase, “the wrong side of history.”
Malapropism — The Foolishness of Using The Phrase: “The Wrong Side of History”
What is a “malapropism”?
1 :the usually unintentionally humorous misuse or distortion of a word or phrase especially : the use of a word sounding somewhat like the one intended but ludicrously wrong in the context
| “Jesus healing those leopards” is an example of malapropism.
Many of the people who lead us are foolish. Why have we put them in charge? We are not as wise as we sometimes think we are. That is why, when our leaders confidently and shamelessly spout empty-headed nonsense, we take them seriously. Unfortunately, fine sounding words, even when spoken as though they were eloquent and wise, don’t become eloquent and wise just because they sound like they ought to be eloquent and wise. Hence, we have these articles effectively telling us that that phrase, “the wrong side of history,” is an example of malapropism.
Consider how The pathetic ‘wrong side of history’ plea by Jonah Goldberg begins.
In domestic politics, people (mostly liberals) tend to say, “You’re on the wrong side of history” about social issues that are breaking their way. It’s a handy phrase, loosely translated as, “You’re going to lose eventually, so why don’t you give up now?”
Philosophically, the expression is abhorrent because of its “Marxist twang” (to borrow historian Robert Conquest’s phrase). Marx popularized the idea that opposition to the inevitability of socialism was anti-intellectual and anti-scientific. The progression of history is scientifically knowable, quoth the Marxists, and so we need not listen to those who object to our program.
Later, Lenin, Stalin, Mao and others would use this reasoning to justify murdering millions of inconvenient people. It was a “God is on our side” argument, minus God.continued => https://nypost.com/2014/03/21/the-pathetic-wrong-side-of-history-plea/
When people use the “right side” or “wrong side” of history plea, what are they doing? They are saying, “look at me! I am so smart and stylish you cannot win. So, give up now.” That is not an argument any serious soul should take seriously. In addition, we should wonder about whether anyone making such an argument is saying anything worth serious attention.
At a practical level, what is wrong with the phrase, “the wrong side of history”? In What’s Wrong with the “Wrong Side of History” Argument?, KEVIN DEYOUNG makes three arguments.
- The phrase assumes a progressive view of history that is empirically false and as a methodology has been thoroughly discredited.
- The phrase “wrong side of history” forgets that progressives can be just as dimwitted as conservatives.
- When applied to Christians, the “wrong side of history” argument usually perpetuates half-truth or outright falsehoods about Christian history.
Nevertheless, effective (meaning they get elected) politicians use the phrase. The Wrong Side of History by Gail Jarvis unintentionally demonstrates why the “wrong side of history” plea can be effective. Consider how the article ends.
Blaming slavery in America on the South may not be historically valid, but it is politically expedient. Leftist elites insist that the South’s lingering pride in its monuments and heritage is hindering the march of progress. Southerners who honor their ancestors were once accused of “supporting a lost cause”; now they are accused of being on “the wrong side of history.”https://www.abbevilleinstitute.org/the-wrong-side-of-history/
The American Civil War was an extremely bloody mess, and the disaster it brought upon the United States, especially in the South, is still remembered. Even now, over a 150 years later, Liberal Democrats use the issue of slavery to punish those Southerners who retain any pride in the heroism of the soldiers who fought for the South. In recent years, for example, Liberal Democrats have destroyed Civil War monuments to shame the South. They have gotten away with it because it is not difficult to convince young skulls full of mush that being for slavery is being on the wrong side of history. Yet slavery is one of the oldest institutions, and mankind has never gotten rid of it. Every country, even the United States, contains people who are enslaved by other people. Slavery is especially prevalent in nations run by authoritarian and totalitarian regimes, and authoritarian and totalitarian regimes remain the norm in this world.
Even in the United States the end of slavery was not inevitable. Consider Unratified Amendments: Protection of Slavery by Jessie Kratz. Had cooler heads prevailed the 13th Amendment might have looked very different. Yet as Jarvis observes, this aspect of history is usually glossed over.
10 Examples of Being on the Wrong Side of History by Paul Andrews is actually funny. In spite of the title, Andrews does not believe there is a wrong side of history. He does, however, believe there is a wrong side. Here is how his article ends.
Plus, to state another sad truth – if you repeat a lie often enough, people will eventually believe it. Our current, instant internet culture has only magnified that fact. Just like with wars, the winner isn’t always Right, just stronger in the end … at least for the time being. As a modern, rational society, we like to think that logic, science, and morality will win out in the end, don’t we? That in the long run, absurd or immoral, or even EVIL ideas may have their days in the sun; but then like roaches or weeds, they are eventually removed. However, they never quite Die, do they?https://paulwandrews.wordpress.com/2019/05/01/9-classic-examples-of-being-on-the-wrong-side-of-history/
Instead of the putting you on the wrong side of history, Andrews appears to think that disagreeing with him puts you on the wrong side of logic, science, and morality. That idea, of course, hardly makes Andrews unique. Our problem is figuring out how the best way to negotiate our differences, but some people don’t want to negotiate. Then we have to figure out who is being unreasonable and what to do about it.
Why Is the ‘Right Side of History’ Losing? by ROBERT STACY MCCAIN points to the track record of those who proclaim themselves on the right side of history. McCain wrote his article in response to the confidence of those who were so certain Hillary Clinton would win the presidency in 2016. Here was his conclusion.
The future is always uncertain in politics, and no one can predict what will happen in the next election. Nearly every political expert was blindsided by Donald Trump’s victory last year, and the political climate now is extraordinarily volatile. Yet if Democrats imagine they can easily and swiftly regain power because “The Future Is Female,” or because they are on “the right side of history,” they are likely to be disappointed. History has a habit of making fools pay for their folly.https://spectator.org/why-is-the-right-side-of-history-losing/
And the human race continues to pay and pay and pay…..
In Is There a ‘Right Side’ of History?, ALEX KOCMAN observes that the notion that there is right side of history is actually an eschatological statement. Consider this excerpt.
The next time someone challenges your biblical convictions on law, morality, society, or salvation as repressive or troglodytic, consider three presuppositions that underlie the colloquialism “the right side of history”:
- Objective morality. If there is a “right” side of history, there is a wrong side as well. But who determines this standard? Who stands as a judge over history? Who defines what is good and evil?
- Linear time. If history is cyclical, as Eastern religions assert, or if it is the result of random natural forces, as secularism holds, there is no sense in speaking of “sides.” To speak of history having right and wrong sides implies that history has an author, an arc, and an eschaton. History is progressive; it is going somewhere.
- Final judgment. Whether one falls on “right” or “wrong” side of history must be knowable, or the statement in question would have no meaning. History, then, apparently culminates in a final determination in which its author somehow asserts his divine prerogative and separates the righteous from the wicked.
Any argument that contains a claim about history’s judgment cannot grow except in the soil of capital borrowed from a Christian worldview. If any of these above presuppositions prove false, claims like, “You must affirm the legitimacy and goodness of LGBTQ lifestyles or you are on the wrong side of history” lose their force. (Think how empty such a statement would seem in the context of traditional Buddhism, for instance—where the universe is annihilated and recreates itself every several billion years!https://founders.org/articles/is-there-a-right-side-of-history/
Is there a wrong side of history? Is there a right side of history? Who decides? Instead of trying to answer such a question for everyone else, perhaps we would each better off trying to do and say what we know to be good.
May our Lord have mercy upon us. May the best example win.
This post is one of the “OF TWISTED WORDS” series. For a list of “OF TWISTED WORDS” posts, see OF TWISTED WORDS => FEMINISM – Citizen Tom.
In my brief stint in doing 18th C theater, Mrs. Malaprop was my finest character portrayal. She was a funny ditz trying to sound educated. The intentional misuse of words is a bit more sinister. Or, as Mr. Knightley says to Emma, “It’s better not to have sense than to misuse it.” That was a loose quote.
After discerning this following statement in your post,
“Any argument that contains a claim about history’s judgment cannot grow except in the soil of capital borrowed from a Christian worldview”
I found the following article and linked it in my post today which I believe explains in detail the differences in Christian word views to our contemporty times and path of liberalist’s views and beliefs that tolerance is the answer to the madness and folly we read in the news is more effective than Christianity beliefs.
Check it out, I believe you will be interested
Regards and goodwill blogging.
If politicians were wise, instead of claiming they are on the right side of history, they should say we are on the wise side of history.
Who is qualified to judge would be simple to determine the difference between wise or foolish side of history…
Since there is really nothing new under the sun, or in other words any claim can easily be discerned by simply relating what is Bing claimed was wise or foolish by what occurred in the past.
For example, every Nation that printed money or borrowed and accumulated Hugh amounts of debt, eventually wound up with inflation.
Every person who accumulates wealth, died in time and their assets were useless to prevent their deaths.
Every politician who proposes to emulate social programs based on Communism has failed. Ivar time
Regards and goodwill blogging
Wisdom is the ability to discern between good and evil, and pride leads to evil. Hence, Jesus said the greatest among us are those to serve others to the greatest of their ability.
Great and humble leaders never forget that the people their serve belong to God and that the people they serve are entitled to manage the fruits of their own labor.
Prideful leaders have no trouble taking what belongs to others and using it for their own ends. That is the problem with Communism. Communism is an arrogant philosophy that seek to justify a prideful leadership that has the audacity to call itself the vanguard of the proletariat..
Hmmm – we both were led to write about Geoerge Orwell today. Maybe God wanted us to talk about this.