“When tea party or libertarian Republicans oppose U.S. military intervention or aid in Ukraine, Syria or any other hot spot, they are regularly labeled ‘isolationist’ by mainstream media outlets. The same term is now commonly used to describe the growing number of war-weary Americans who believe the U.S. tries to do too much around the world militarily.”
So writes Jack Hunter, contributing editor at Rare.US, in a commentary entitled “Hey media, ‘isolationist’ is not an acceptable term.”
Hunter notes that the biggest hawks in America — liberal and conservative, Democrat and Republican — immediately label as “isolationist” anyone who even dares suggest that the U.S. shouldn’t get involved in every local squabble around the world.
They’re deliberately using that term as a smear, Hunter points out. Which is wrong, but predictable.
But it’s far worse for the media to use such an inaccurate, pejorative and partisan term, he argues. Yet they’re doing it.
Hunter quotes conservative pundit and National Review editor-at-large Jonah Goldberg — who is definitely NOT a non-interventionist — from a perceptive piece Goldberg wrote last September:
“Some reporters say that they’re using ‘isolationist’ as a descriptive label, not as a pejorative term. This is nonsense. First of all, it simply is a pejorative term. But, if it’s not a pejorative term, how come nobody ever uses it to describe liberals who often want to intervene far less than conservatives do?”
Goldberg further notes that, all in all, libertarians are far less “isolationist” than most Americans:
“Why is isolationism only about military strikes? What about trade? Immigration? If you throw that stuff into the mix, libertarians are far less isolationist than most Americans, and yet libertarians are supposedly the heart of this new isolationism. How strange.”
Goldberg quotes Timothy Carney’s wonderful sarcastic Ambrose Bierce-ish definition: “Isolationist: n. Someone who, on occasion, opposes bombing foreigners.”
Then Goldberg reworks that a bit: “I’d phrase it slightly different. An isolationist is someone who doesn’t want to bomb foreigners when I do.”
So, yeah, isolationist is a smear, and that’s why the biggest Congressional interventionists use it. But the media shouldn’t let them get away with it.
It’s time to stop labeling opposition to 24-7 global warfare as “isolationism.” And it’s highly irresponsible of the media to use that term themselves, or to let hawks toss it around without challenge or comment.
Libertarians should constantly point this out. Advocates President Sharon Harris wrote a Liberty Minute column in 2011 on how to do this persuasively and effectively, and that column can be found in this issue.