Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Another Word Rendered Meaningless

This time, the word is "jihadists." It used to mean Muslims engaged in so-called "holy war." But thanks to people like right wing pundit Charles Krauthammer, the word has been "expanded" to mean "people who oppose Bush policy." Particularly within the CIA.

In an interview with (who else?) Fox News, Krauthammer described "jihadists" as: the people who consider themselves the loyal opposition, which really is the role of Congress, but who oppose administration policy, had been leaking, and had been trying to undermine and obstruct administration initiatives. One of the roles he had adopted, Goss, was to go after these people.

Not, it should be noted, actual terrorists, but the new definition of "jihadist": the disloyal.

Whatever the other crimes of the Right in this country, can we at least prosecute them for murdering language?


James Lincoln Warren said...

Alas, murdering language is not confined to the political right. Many rightistas, like Safire, are actually Defenders of the Tongue, figuring that it's consistent with other forms of conservatism, I guess.

There are two main types of Word Manglers, by which I mean folks who deliberately change the meanings of words for their own convenience: the Humpty-Dumptyists, who use a word according to what they want it to mean, and the Procrusteans, who force a word to fit into their limited mental bed of verbal comprehension. This is a case of Procrusteanism, since the subtext is clearly terrorism (not really religion -- the Christian word for "jihad" is "crusade", after all) and the intention is to associate perceived adversarial parties with terrorism.

These vile practises are due to the triumph of propaganda over rhetoric. Indeed, one can see the victory of the former when one considers that most people think that "rhetoric" is just another word for "propaganda" instead of what it truly is, one of the classical liberal arts. We've also seen it in the liberal "political correctness" that tries so hard to avoid offending anyone. The word "refugee", for example, is now used exclusively for third world victims of civil war living in camps.

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James Lincoln Warren said...

To clarify the distinction between the Procrusteans and the Humpty-Dumptyists, using the word "decadent", which means corrupt or decaying, to mean indulgent or sensual is a Humpty-Dumptyism, adopted no doubt from the perception that decadent societies are usually portrayed as being sybaritic.