Waterboarding, Collateral Damage, and resisting euphemism
Words are powerful and need to be used with great care. Propaganda and lies water down the horrors of war, and we have to question what we're hearing.
Great piece! One thing we could add is we see the 'Marvelization' of conflict. Everything becomes good vs bad. USA: good. Palestine: bad. Don't try to think why, just listen to us. There's a clearly good side and a clearly bad side, and the good side always wins in the end. It's not simply 'making everything black and white', it's literally turning global misery into a story with a narrative.
I'm really glad that we have options for independent writers and content creators nowadays though, which didn't exist back in 2003.
It’s fascinating to watch an ethnic cleansing that has intense media coverage yet few in that audience truly understand it in context. They’re just mooslims, Arabs, in the way of our noble allies.
My HS time was during the Reagan years, and the euphemism industry was entering a growth phase back then, too. We discussed these things often in my AP History class - like the Pentagon functionary who tried to redefine “peace” as “permanent pre-hostility”.
The whole thing makes me long for George Carlin to rise from the grave and mock these bastards into theirs... except at this point, there’s little or no humor left in it.
Thank you! Words play such a huge role in propaganda. I live with my friend and her brother, and her brother got out of the army last year. Thankfully, he was never deployed. But unfortunately he now believes the US is the hero fighting the "bad guys" and watches propaganda often. I wish I could convince him how little the US cares for any of us. We're not a hero. I've known him since he was just a kid...
I also came into political awareness around the 'war on terror', and I compare the discourse now with both hope and despair. The plurality of voices means that there are more punctures in the euphemisms and other twisted language. But at the same time, the echo chambers mean it's harder than ever to understand one another. Sometimes when I come across people with very different political views, it's as though we're not even speaking the same language anymore. I don't know how we communicate across these chasms - even as we surely must.
I also had one of those life-changing high school English teachers, but I was in high school in the mid-90s (which might as well have been the 1890s in many ways. Pre-Columbine, Pre-9/11, even Pre- Assassination of Rabin) yet we were still addressing these same issues. The Taliban had recently started spreading through Afghanistan and the baby feminist me was outraged no one was stopping them. It was early internet days (56k dial-up) and I spent a long night writing and sending increasingly hostile emails from my stepfather's PC to the Taliban's English language web page. Yeah I know, isn't it bizarre to think that they would have made one? I'll never know who actually put it up but I'm assuming some branch of our government. Maybe not, but it seems pretty unlikely to me that the actual Taliban was behind it. Because I used step dad's computer the emails were sent from his account (webmail wasn't a thing, at least not one I was using yet) and I came home a few weeks later on a Sunday evening to find a visibly shaken gray-faced set of parents. Two "government officials" (I have never been able to find out what agency, my parents were not at all interested in developing a dialogue with whoever it was) had stopped by the house to question my stepfather about the emails. Probably because I was really into Bikini Kill etc and I had told the "Taliban/facade US agency" whatever that I was amassing an army of women, that we were going to train and fly into Afghanistan and then after rounding them up (I wasn't clear on how exactly that would happen) we would sew their phalluses into their rectums so that they could die fucking themselves up their own asses. I'm almost 100% positive about the phrasing I used for that part, I remember being so pleased with myself. Needless to say I couldn't use the home computer without supervision for almost a year. And the US remained disinterested in freeing the population of Afghanistan from the Taliban for the rest of the 90's. And even though the "War on Terror" I failed to see much evidence of the US doing much more than providing different terror and destruction to the women and children of Afghanistan.
When I visit my mother I occasionally watch "Evening News with David Muir" and the propaganda is so transparent and shameful. The coverage often already smelled like packaged material that Israeli PR had prepared, and then came the exclusive interview with Netanyahu - empty of substance naturally. The following evening, suddenly there were ABC reporters 'embedded' (another great phrase) with Israeli troops. Call me crazy but exclusive interview & embedded reporters seemed like quid pro quo to me - you want access then carry our water.
There are so many people preaching high-minded, dismissive neutrality from behind their priviliege that I want to slap in the face with this essay. Thank you for the fantastic work you're doing.