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Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-12-06 12:16 PM
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Republican Newspeak

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Republican Newspeak

In his famous essay, "Politics and the English Language," George Orwell wrote, "If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought. A bad usage can spread by tradition and imitation even among people who should and do know better. " ...In his novel 1984, Orwell invented a language called Newspeak, his fictional State's method of controlling thought and suppressing opposition to its policies. Orwell describes Newspeak as being composed in part of "words which had been deliberately constructed for political purposes ... words which were intended to impose a desirable mental attitude upon the person using them. ... No word in vocabulary was ideologically neutral. A great many were euphemisms. meant almost the exact opposite of what they were supposed to mean."

This is exactly how Republican Newspeak works. Just as 1984's Ministry of Plenty was really the Ministry of Scarcity, "the Clear Skies Initiative" is really "the Industrial License to Pollute Act." Just as the novel's Ministry of Love really refers to the Ministry of Coercion and Torture, the Patriot Act is really the Suppression of Dissent Act...... Other examples of Republican Newspeak are more complex. One tactic is to represent an oppositional position as a positive one-to turn an "anti" into a "pro." The term "pro-life" is a case in point. It is inaccurate, because "pro-lifers" are not so much for something as against something much more circumscribed. "Pro-life" does not really stand for an advocacy of human life in general (such as an opposition to the death penalty); it only means "against abortion." In a related rhetorical move, and one just as emotionally manipulative, ant-abortionists refer to fetuses as "the unborn," "babies," and even "children." Their opponents, who call themselves "pro-choice," are honest. These people are not "for abortion," but rather for an adult woman's right to decide whether she is prepared to bear a child. They have, however, failed to point out, publicly and frequently, the distortions of their opponents. ...The imperative Support Our Troops implies that if you disapprove of a particular administration's aggressive military policy, you lack solidarity with and concern for the young men and women in the armed forces. This slogan, in other words, conflates two distinct positions and simultaneously marks one of them as unpatriotic and heartless. It is pure emotional blackmail. In peace demonstrations, some protestors carry signs that read: Support Our Troops/Bring Them Home, but this riposte has not made the original slogan disappear.

What can be done about this insidious trend? Democrats and their allies need to fight back. When Republicans talk about an "ownership society," Democrats should say this means a "you're-on-your-own society." When the Bush administration says it wants to "reform" Social Security, Democrats should protest that Bush really want to "dismantle" it. They might add that putting our retirement money on the stock market will result in "anti-Social Insecurity."

Most importantly, however, our national media must scrupulously monitor its own use of political language, echoing neither political party and striving for neutral, objective descriptions of legislation and policies.

Authors Website:

Authors Bio: Carol V. Hamilton has a Ph.D. in English, emphasis American literature and culture, from Berkeley. Her academic articles have been published in the US, England, and Canada.

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ovidsen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-12-06 12:24 PM
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1. Funny, in a frightening sort of way....
Democrats can't hold a candle to the Rethugs when it comes to that spoonful of sugar. The curse of having principles! :)

"Clear Skies Act" was always one of my favorites.
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beyurslf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-12-06 12:56 PM
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2. They really should get an award for that one. I mean seriously,
that is classic.
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Uncle Joe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Oct-12-06 01:11 PM
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3. "Compassionate Conservative" coming from the Governor of the state
with the most executions in the nation, the same Governor who mocked an executed woman (Karla Faye Tucker) pleading for her life. This is not to say anything regarding her guilt, but for someone to make fun of a person's last pleas for life absolutely does not register as compassionate.

Thanks for posting Demeter

Kicked and recommended

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