War & Language, and following up on Can we lay to rest the “insurgents”?
Tuesday I explained the meaning of two words, terrorist and insurgent.
Deroy Murdock understands the use of language as a weapon. Maria sent me his article, Terror and the English Language: Making use of a chief weapon, which he starts by saying,
The long, twilight struggle against Islamo-fascism requires Civilization to deploy numerous weapons against this implacable foe. As usual, these will include intelligence, covert operations, and high-tech armaments. But another vital tool is language. How Americans and our allies speak and write about this conflict will influence when and how victory will come.
Mr. Murdock, whose website, Hussein and Terror explains HS’s links to terrorism, lists “a few ways language can keep Americans alert to the danger Islamic terrorism poses to this country”:
- September 11 was an attack, not just a string of coincidental strokes and heart failures that eliminated thousands of victims at once.
- Victims of terrorism do not “die,” nor are they “lost.” They are killed, murdered, and slaughtered.
- Specify the number of human beings who terrorists destroy.
- Terrorists do not simply “threaten” us, nor does homeland security merely shield Americans from “future attacks.” These things are true, but it is more persuasive to acknowledge what these people have done and hope to do once more: Wipe us out.
- Quote Islamo-fascist leaders to remind people of their true intentions.
- The phrase “Weapons of Mass Destruction” has been pounded into meaninglessness. It has been repeated ad infinitum. Fairly or unfairly, the absence of warehouses full of anthrax and nerve gas in Iraq has made the whole idea of “WMD” sound synonymous with “LIE.”
America’s enemies do not plot the “mass destruction” of empty office buildings or abandoned parking structures. Conversely, they want to see packed office buildings ablaze as their inhabitants scream for mercy. That’s why I use the terms “Weapons of Mass Death” and “Weapons of Mass Murder.”
- When discussing those who are killed by terrorists, be specific, name them, and tell us about them. Humanize these individuals. They are more than just statistics or stick figures.
- Daniel Pipes of the Philadelphia-based Middle East Forum believes terror is a tactic, not an enemy
- Jim Guirard runs the TrueSpeak Institute in Washington, D.C. He has thought long and hard about terror and the English language.
He recently informed me, to my horror, that more than three years into the war on Islamo-fascism, the State Department and the CIA have not produced a glossary of the Arabic-language words that Middle Eastern Islamo-fascists use, as well as the antonyms for those words. Such a “Thesaurus of Terrorism” would help Civilization turn this war’s words upside down.
Read the Murdock article, and listen to what he says. Your life may depend on it.