This was inevitable:
You’ve probably heard the expression, “He drank the Kool-Aid.”
Arianna Huffington once used it to describe supporters of George W. Bush’s economic policies. Bill O’Reilly said it of his critics (“the Kool-Aid people,” he told listeners, “are going nuts”). In 2012, Forbes called it a top annoying cliché used by business leaders.
There’s a problem with this flip word play though: That expression was born of a nightmare.
Thirty-seven years ago today, 918 people died in Jonestown, a Guyana jungle settlement, and at a nearby airstrip. Some of us knew the victims. I grew up with one of them, Maria Katsaris.
Alright, then, you heard the man.
And in truth, his reason is no worse than any other, even for those of us who found the phrase offensive for its blithe lack of distinction. That is to say, drinking electric Kool-Aid is a variation on the theme, and much more useful than the Jonestown variation, but from the outset it has been subject to a certain sort of (ahem!) “affirmative action” whereby a conserative drinks the Kool-Aid by believing in a tinfoil wingnut conspiracy theory, but a liberal believes the Kool-Aid by disagreeing with conservatives. At some point, conservatives need to just come right out and demand reasonable accommodation under the ADA.
Yet this is how far we’ve come.
And who knows, perhaps before all this is over, Republicans will fulfill the Jonestown version, too. You know, “Second Amendment solutions”, and all.
Richardson, James D. “The phrase ‘drank the Kool-Aid’ is completely offensive. We should stop saying it immediately.” The Washington Post. 18 November 2014.
Waldman, Paul. “The real problem with Joni Ernst’s quote about guns and the government”. The Washington Post. 23 October 2014.