REEVALUATING A ONCE-PROUD MONIKER…. It wasn’t too long ago that right-wing activists liked being called “teabaggers.” They’d show up at rallies bragging about being a teabagger, and using “tea bag” as a verb — encouraging conservatives to “tea bag” the White House.

In time, movement leaders alerted activists to the sexual connotation of the word, but even then, it wasn’t at all unusual for the right to use the label with pride.

National Review‘s Jay Nordlinger believes liberals are using the moniker and they “do not mean it in a nice way.” He’s recommending the political world reevaluate its use.

Some conservatives are happy to embrace “teabagger,” or are at least willing to do so. They are “owning the insult,” which is to say, taking what is intended as a slur and wearing it proudly. There are many words and names in our vocabulary that started out as slurs and became something else. […]

What about a special case — the worst word in American English, as some of us see it, namely the N-word? When I was growing up, in Ann Arbor, Mich., there was a little debate: Should school officials try to prevent black students from using the N-word? I don’t believe the issue was ever settled. And this brings up the question of whether “teabagger” could be kind of a conservative N-word: to be used in the family, but radioactive outside the family. […]

[I]t may well be too late to purge “teabagger” from our discourse, certainly from discourse controlled by liberals. But I’m for giving it a try: for running “teabagger” out of town, even at this late date. It is really a lowdown term. “Tea partier” is a neutral term. “Tea-party patriots” is a positive term, used by some of the protesters themselves. “Teabagger” — not so positive, and not so neutral.

I’m fairly certain Nordlinger is serious.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.