DOUG SMITH: THE WAR ON LANGUAGE

12 Mar

doug smith

DOUG SMITH: Author, Historian and a regular contributor to FSP

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Political language — is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. George Orwell, “Politics and the English Language” The oldest political speech I can recall was from Cain: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Short, but all the elements. The Lie: I have no idea if his body is where I left it when I killed him. The respectability of the murder: I’m not responsible for him. He’s the one who put his head in the way of my fist. Unfortunately, his audience (God) was not easily swayed. But Cain showed the way. Politicians, in particular progressive ones, have been busily perfecting the art the political speech ever since.

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Language is important. That is how we communicate our ideas. If I tell my kid “You cannot have a cookie.”, and he counters with “I didn’t. I only took a baked confection.”, then we have a problem. Words have meaning, and those who twist and shade those meanings are not trying to tell the truth. In the Dark Ages in Britain, from the fall of Rome to the beginnings of the Renaissance, the art of writing was all but lost. Few outside Irish monasteries could either read, or write, and thus, be aware of their history and culture. Communication devolved to the bare minimums needed for survival and civilization to a mean and barbaric existence. (Thank God for the Irish, who preserved the core of written knowledge in monasteries to form the yeast from which the Renaissance rose.) Words have meanings. The written word lets us record those meanings for others besides those sitting near enough to hear us speak. Words, meanings, are the lubricant without which our social interactions cannot rise above barbarism. But, as with Cain, so with many today, there is an assault on language. When words have no meaning, or when they can mean anything, then scoundrels can hide their meanings and intentions from people. Take the word, Democrat, for example. A country that says it is Democratic is meant to be perceived as having a free and benevolent government. However, few people, even those on the progressive left, would describe Die Deutsche Demokratische Republik as anything but oppressive. Fidel Castro was elected over and over by voters with guns to their head, but elected he was. Yet “his” democracy remains one of the most brutal, repressive regimes in the world. He and his cohorts came to power with ruthless murders, and maintained it with a police state, political prisoners, and the theft of wealth of citizens. Just tossing the word democratic at a Gulag does not make it Coney Island.

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But if people can hijack language, destroy meaning, than they can avoid calling evil or stupidity what it is. They can avoid making rational arguments for nonsensical goals. In short, they can be progressives. Hence, an Army deserter is said to have served with honor and distinction. Taxing and spending become investing and paying your fair share. One who is Rich has steady work and a paycheck that can be robbed. Anyone who opposes higher taxes and out of control spending is a right wing extremist. Conversely, Muslim terrorists who murder children with an electric drill are NOT Muslim terrorists, but just extremists. (I guess they REALLY hate taxes.) A backward, corrupt, poor country with tribal warfare and warlords who confiscate any foreign aid becomes a developing country. (One might ask, in fairness, into what they are developing.) A self-serving shakedown artist becomes a civil rights leader. (Again, one might ask, whose rights, other than his own rights to a fat bank account, has Al Sharpton led?) Patriotism becomes a joke, a synonym for a bumpkin, or in the opposite extreme it becomes a blind following of a party or person, rather than a nation. Affordable housing and Affordable Health care provide neither, but put control of both in government hands, where both are ravaged.

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Words become so imprecise that they mean nothing, or everything, or whatever a dishonest speaker or writer wishes them to mean. Thus, they can never be held to account for what they say, or promise, or swear. Reporters cannot even manage to write a simple paragraph or sentence, and readers become accepting of sloppy writing, and reporting, and outright lies. Imprecise and meaningless language makes people vulnerable to nonsense phrases that say nothing but sound good. Hence, “I feel your pain” makes us feel you are one of us. “Hope and Change”, uttered with Greek Columns and fireworks, sounds profound. In reality,both phrases are semantically null: they mean absolutely nothing. So the hearer can project into them whatever he or she wishes to believe, and the slick politician can never be held to account for his promises, because he has promised precisely nothing. But it sounded like something! To quote Orwell again: “the slovenliness of our language makes it easier to have foolish thoughts.” Foolish thoughts lead to foolish actions, foolish decisions, and foolish leaders, leading foolish people off a foolish cliff. We need to take back our language. We can start with simple words. Halt. About face.

3 Responses to “DOUG SMITH: THE WAR ON LANGUAGE”

  1. doug883 March 12, 2015 at 11:49 pm #

    You notice I got in a nod to my Irish forebears? 🙂

    From: Free State Patriot To: doug883@yahoo.com Sent: Thursday, March 12, 2015 9:50 PM Subject: [New post] DOUG SMITH: THE WAR ON LANGUAGE #yiv4697783921 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv4697783921 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv4697783921 a.yiv4697783921primaryactionlink:link, #yiv4697783921 a.yiv4697783921primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv4697783921 a.yiv4697783921primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv4697783921 a.yiv4697783921primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv4697783921 WordPress.com | markacaserta posted: “Facts have taken a back seat to rhetoric in politicsDOUG SMITH: Author, Historian and a regular contributor to FSP——————————————————————————————Political language — is designed to make” | |

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  2. doug883 March 13, 2015 at 12:01 am #

    Just noticed, next to last paragraph, phrase should read Inreality, both phrases are semantically null: they mean absolutely nothing.  , Instead of semantically delivered.

    From: Free State Patriot To: doug883@yahoo.com Sent: Thursday, March 12, 2015 9:50 PM Subject: [New post] DOUG SMITH: THE WAR ON LANGUAGE #yiv4697783921 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv4697783921 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv4697783921 a.yiv4697783921primaryactionlink:link, #yiv4697783921 a.yiv4697783921primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv4697783921 a.yiv4697783921primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv4697783921 a.yiv4697783921primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv4697783921 WordPress.com | markacaserta posted: “Facts have taken a back seat to rhetoric in politicsDOUG SMITH: Author, Historian and a regular contributor to FSP——————————————————————————————Political language — is designed to make” | |

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