Monty Python fans… Terry Jones has been writing interesting commentary for the Guardian on the Iraq situation. This one is my fave, about terminology.
"In the second world war we were fighting the Germans, and the Germans were fighting us. Everyone agreed who was fighting who. That’s what a proper war is like."
But now, Americans want to be called "coalition forces," and want Iraqis defending their homes from rockets to be called "terrorists" and "fanatics." Pregnant women and boys are "rebels" and ambulance drivers "fighters."
You have to make them sound like legitimate targets.
US mercenaries are now "civilian contracters."
It reminds me of Carlins old joke – if fire fighters fight fires, what do freedom fighters fight?
We are so amazing that we can hand over "sovereignty" without handing anything concrete over at all. We can conduct "negotiations" that less enlightened and linguistically elastic folks might just call "threatening." We include artillary fire, snipers, and cluster bombs in our new definition of "ceasefire" and our "strategies" and "policies," when available for comment are the direct application of brute force to delicate situations.
Jones says that language has a life of its own, but I’m with Carlin – we, like the Germans did, invent a language to hide our sins.
You can visit Terry Jone’s own site at http://www.terry-jones.net