Over on GOOD, Mark Peters needles the Obama administration for continuing the obfuscating euphemisms of the Bush era. The Bush administration called torture enhanced interrogation techniques and called illegal wiretapping warantless surveillance. Now the Obama administration is trying to come up with a nice innocuous term for terrorism. Like how about man-caused disasters or overseas contingency operations?

From a writer's perspective, it's always interesting that the longer words are, the more feeble they often are. Short words — torture, terror, war — produce vivid images and thus emotional reactions and thus moral judgment. The longer words strung together clunkily don't make you feel anything, so they don't make you judge. 

So how about this term "War on Terror"? Peters says, "That 'War on X' construction … has consistently brewed vats of fear while producing only a shot glass of sense, at best."

While it's wrong to use words to manipulate unjust actions to sound like a bureaucratic procedure, some actions should produce moral judgment and I think the action of "terrorism" deserve a short, scary word to describe it. I also think "war" is an unbiased word. It gives different thoughts based on the context and the person who hears them. One person hears "war" and thinks "glorious battle for justice and truth." Another person hears "war" and thinks "senseless killing and dying."We don't need to quibble about the term itself but the action.

In Iraq though, it's misleading to call it a war on terrorism. And Peters may have a point when he says "war" is too broad. Maybe the war in Afghanistan is a battle against terrorism.

 
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Alisa Harris

0 Responses to The war on what?

  1. Bart says:

    Bush et al. tried to conjure up Cold War imagery and sentiments with their vocabulary. If you look at the rhetoric in both eras (which are nearly side by side), you’ll see what I mean. I don’t suppose we should be surprised, since Bush and most the the DC elite were breaking their political teeth before the fall of the USSR.

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