Wednesday, June 29, 2005

War on Terror

Though she's hardly the first to contest the use of this oxymoronic term, the president's speech last night demands a return to the critique.

Particularly maddening to your cybertrix is the term's acceptance by many in the news media and in the political arena, as if it were the proper name for a conflict.

The term "War on Terror" is a clever construction by Republican rhetoriticians. While nurturing the post-911 fear that lives in so many of us, the phrase paradoxically conveys the idea that we are fighting to stamp out that fear.

Think about it, though. Terror is an emotion--not a fighting force, nor even a battle technique. Terrorism, on the other hand, is a strategy/technique used by the enemy to manipulate outcomes that are essentially political in nature.

War is, by its very nature, terrifying. Hence, a "War on Terror" is a clever bit of newspeak.

By appropriating the administration's sinister rhetoric, the news media do the president's bidding. Wolf Blitzer did it this past Sunday on CNN's "Late Edition," and countless others do it on a daily basis. It's time to put this damaging and linguistically lazy practice to an end. Words do matter.

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