The hunt for blue October

Perhaps the most brazen language diktat has been the mischievous switch of political colors. Stalin would hardly believe it, but blue now supposedly signifies the left and red the right. According to Wikipedia and the Washington Post, so it must be true, the change came in 2000 courtesy of MSNBC and NBC’s “Today” show. It next migrated to David Letterman at CBS, and then went bacterial. The spirit of the change is reminiscent of the cable TV directory that read, “The World’s Best Ho . . .” when space was clearly available for “tels.” One can imagine the high-pitched giggling at this naughtiness. Saddling your political rivals with a symbol to which they have been historically opposed is an even better and naughtier joke. Either it was that or numbing cluelessness. …

It might be difficult to get this past Putin, but the “Today” show’s guidance would tell us that the place where communist apparatchiks reviewed and may yet review rivers of missiles and goose-stepping soldiers is now Blue Square. The Soviet Blue Army fought the Germans at Stalingrad. Mao, the leader of Blue China, wrote the Little Blue Book, which was carried by the Revolutionary Blue Guard as they sang the Blue China anthem, “The East Is Blue.” And everyone knows that the flags of countries like the former Soviet Union, the Peoples’ Republic of China, and North Korea are a brilliant, striking blue, just like the caps of the Jacobins. …

But it’s slightly more serious, because it’s a little, ignorant tail wagging an old and venerable dog. It is also yet another example of a Fritz-Lang-like, gratuitous submission to spurious authority. There are a lot of those these days, as if it were our heritage, which it is not.