How to be a good oped writer (ironic)

By Seth J. Frantzman

Patrick Henry speaking to the Virginia Convention in 1775

Patrick Henry speaking to the Virginia Convention in 1775

How to be a good oped writer: Write with the consensus, preach to the converted, be just passionate enough to make people think you care, use cliches, make people feel good about themselves and legitimize their existing views, pad your articles with the proper amount of positive lugubrious prose and skewer popular enemies that your audience all agree are enemies, reinforce existing stereotypes and make readers feel secure in their prejudices, support popular political leaders and condemn unpopular ones, never take too extreme or ideological a stand, be contradictory, smarmy, snarky and hypocritical, use generalized phrasing and terms, such as “constructive” and “issues”, discuss feelings and use terms that are well suited to psychiatrist’s couch, such as “I hear you”; make sure to identify with obvious victims, and express moral outrage at obvious causes; never defend real losers or those disliked by mass society, go along with the media’s trends, identify with the correct minority groups and never question accepted views on such hot-button or third rail issues, such as race, wait until a powerful person has fallen before putting the verbal knife in their back; talk about the importance of things that provide the least chance of success but which the audience will feel comfortable with, such as “dialogue” and “diplomacy”; support popular wars and always be against unpopular ones, preach to the feeling that the reader is morally superior and better than his/her opponents, encourage more feelings of moral superiority, propagate feelings of “only we can save them”, talk about God but only in the proper watered-down way and only for audiences who think such talk is proper, use gender neutral terms, ascribe massive generalizations to huge amounts of people without logic or reason, definitely do not let logic get in the way, reference only well known historical figures or books, never use obscure references and don’t use vocabulary the audience will not be familiar with (i.e words like “hubris” or “eponymous”, “vapid”); make sure to interchangeably use i.e/e.g because your audience doesn’t know the difference either (same difference with infer/imply), use the word “I” to pad yourself on the back and take credit for things you never accomplished and insights you never had but by doing so make the reader think they are in the presence of a real clairvoyant (but never use the word “clairvoyant”, the readers won’t know it anyway and it will make them feel dumb); never support violence but provide excuses for violent behavior, never hold people responsible or castigate people for inability to perform simple tasks; never provide solutions; use ad hominem attacks to encourage readers to dislike people they already dislike, never harm sacred cows or challenge people’s narratives.

How to be an exceptional oped writer: Do the opposite of everything above.

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