If you’re up on the culture wars, you’ll have noticed the rise of a particular term used by many in the mainstream media. “Dog whistle” is now a rampant way for the media to describe a Conservative talking point. Whenever you hear about Conservatives getting riled up about a particular issue, you can be sure that whenever a politician uses that issue to gin up support for their campaign, they will inevitably be accused of dog whistling to the Republican base.
So what is a dog whistle? Well, if you ask the Left, they would tell you that it’s the use of a secret code conveyed in suggestive political messaging with the purpose to enhance support from a particular group. They would tell you that dog whistle users tend to cloak their messages in language that appears normal to most people but are secretly communicating specific messages to those in the know.
You may be familiar with some of the accusations of dog whistling. When former President Donald Trump suggested there were “fine people on both sides” during the Charlottesville riots, he was accused of dog whistling to his alt-right followers. Admittedly, that is the sort of coded language that could potentially be a wink and a nod to people to do the wrong things. However, if there is one thing we can all be assured of with Donald Trump, it’s that subtlety was never his strong suit. The man never really knew how to hint at something; he usually tried to whack it in the head.
But more recently, any new complaint made by Conservatives and Republicans has been classified as a dog whistle. Rallying against mask mandates, Critical Race Theory being taught in public schools, and out-of-control government spending are all dog whistles. Criticizing Vice President Kamala Harris is a dog whistle. “Let’s go Brandon” is a dog whistle.
But here’s the thing about dog whistles: The dogs have to be in on it. The concept of the actual dog whistle is named for ultrasonic whistles used in shepherding, which are audible to dogs but not humans. The dogs are trained to obey the sound of the whistle, so that when the whistle is blown, the dogs react. So when the Left constantly calls every new Republican talking point a dog whistle, they are greatly misunderstanding the concept. In order for it to be a dog whistle, the desired reaction has to be so engrained in the “dog” that it’s basically second nature. New complaints are therefore the least likely areas to be dog whistles.
The irony is that the Left uses dog whistles all the time. There are certain phrases and terms the Left loves to throw out that automatically evoke visceral hatred and contempt towards those to whom they’re directed. And the reaction given by the Left to these labels has been engrained over the course of months, years, and decades. It is therefore important to identify these dog whistles so you know what the Left is really trying to do when they mention them. This will in no way be an exhaustive list because this column has a word limit, but the list will be enough to show some of the major Leftist dog whistles so you’re able to identify more.
Let’s start with an obvious one. Labeling someone a Karen is obviously racist and sexist, since the first two primary characteristics are white and female. However, labeling someone a “Karen” allows others to mock, ridicule, dismiss, harass, and in some cases, physically assault. Once labeled a Karen, the dogs know what to do. “Karens” are doxed online, and can lose their friends, careers, and sometimes a whole lot more if their crimes are deemed serious enough.
Nothing whets the whistle of Leftist dogs more than linking a person to Donald Trump. Once a politician, celebrity, athlete, businessperson, or media personality has been linked to Trump, the gloves are off. NFL quarterback Tom Brady was accused of being a white supremacist because he once played a round of golf with Trump and thought it was cool. Democrats even make it part of their campaign strategy in just about any election because they know that as soon as a link to Trump can be made, their dogs will come barking.
The funny thing about the term “assault rifle” is that the most common weapon identified as an assault rifle, the AR-15, is not an assault rifle at all. That’s right: The US military has a set of standards that identify assault rifles, and the AR-15 does not meet those standards. Nevertheless, calling something an assault rifle makes it sound sinister. It makes it sound evil. The term “assault rifle” was even supposedly coined by Adolf Hitler, so that is just another great way to link Conservatives to Nazis in case you’re in the market. But simply labeling something an assault rifle, or even the tamer “assault-style rifle,” calls in the hounds of justice to make their voices heard. This is obvious in the ongoing Kyle Rittenhouse murder trial, where the prosecutor cannot stop saying “AR-15” over and over again, to get the jury to know he was holding a dangerous weapon. He even compared the AR-15 to a handgun, making the argument that the AR-15 was more lethal than a pistol, as if it has some magical power that would override a shot fired from an inferior gun. The simple act of mislabeling an assault rifle releases the dogs.
That’s right. The term “dog whistle” is probably the most genius dog whistle the Left has. You see, the whole purpose is to disguise language so that only the intended targets understand the signal. The rest of us just hear a criticism of the way Conservatives are attacking a certain issue. But the dogs know. They understand the signal. Calling something a “dog whistle” gives the dogs carte blanche to attack the criticism as racist, sexist, (two more dog whistles), and any other “-ist” you might think of. If gives the dogs the ability to attack the attack instead of defending the very idea being attacked.
The Left has done a great job of disguising their dog whistles while utilizing them to almost perfect execution. They have imbedded their dog whistles so deeply in American culture that they are doing exactly what they are designed to do.
I’m curious to hear your favorite Leftist dog whistle that I didn’t discuss. Let me know on Twitter, but do it fast before PETA cancels the ability to use it.
Izzo Zwiren is the host of The Jewish Living Podcast, where he and his guests delve into any and all areas of Orthodox Judaism.