“That’s why it’s a little absurd to hear Limbaugh point out disapprovingly that my book Wingnuts itself uses a label to describe the use of fear and hate by hyper-partisans. Its funny how quickly people who throw around labels for a living (“feminazi,” for example) cry foul when a term like “wingnut” is directed at them. But bullies are always shocked when you punch back.”
—Author and “No Labels” co-founder John Avlon, in his essay, “My War With Rush Limbaugh”
John Avlon has recently joined with a mostly moderate Democratic group to launch the “No Labels” movement, supposedly dedicated to moving political debate away from uncivil name-calling and personal demonization. This is awkward for a pundit who has thus far made his reputation with a book called Wingnuts, which is a dismissive and derisive L-A-B-E-L he attaches to politicians he disagrees with, mostly Tea Party members and any elected official who opposes abortion.
The quoted passage shows how Avlon’s principled aversion to labels only holds up until he determines that a demonizing label like “bully” and “people who throw around labels for a living” makes lively copy and is an effective rhetorical tool, which is why any partisan warrior uses the labels Avlon’s group has decreed are bad for America.
You see, John, someone who throws around labels in political discourse because he believes, as Limbaugh had repeatedly explained, nothing is wrong with using labels, cannot be assailed for a lack of integrity. One who uses labels to attack such a person, however, while fronting a group that maintains that the use of insulting labels degrade political debate and divide Americans, shows no integrity and invites the conclusion that he is a hypocritical fraud….especially when he continues to hawk a book that is devoted entirely to labeling others “wingnuts.”
“Hypocritical fraud.” If the label sticks, wear it.