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June 09, 2005

Rangel's Holocaust of the Language

I worry about the English language.

In 1984, one of Big Brother's aims was to reduce language into a tool of government. Parts of the left seem to be working on that very idea.

Yesterday, I commented on Amnesty International' hijacking of gulag to misrepresent American POW camps.

Now, Charles Rangel is appropriating "Holocaust" to swipe at the President - I've added emphasis:

Top House Democrat Charles Rangel complained on Monday that the Bush administration's decision to concoct a "fraudulent" war in Iraq was as bad as "the Holocaust."

"It's the biggest fraud ever committed on the people of this country," Rangel told WWRL Radio's Steve Malzberg and Karen Hunter. "This is just as bad as six million Jews being killed. The whole world knew it and they were quiet about it, because it wasn't their ox that was being gored."

The Harlem Democrat charged that top Bush officials "made up [their] mind to go into Iraq long before 9/11. And every one of the players who made this decision - they were part of this plan to do it. From Rumsfeld to Cheney, Wolfowitz, Bolton, every one of them - Perle - [they were part of the] plan to put our kids in harm's way long before 9/11."

Is there anything these people won't mangle in their hatred?

Posted by Mitch at June 9, 2005 07:08 AM | TrackBack
Comments

Is there anything these people won't mangle in their hatred?

Sure! "Extraordinary circumstances."

Oooh, look! Something shiny!

Posted by: Brian at June 9, 2005 07:59 AM

Rangel put his foot in his mouth with an offensive, insensitive, and off-the-mark comment. He'll regret it, and rightfully so. Rick "Frothy" Santorum stepped into the same dog poop last month.

As for the left rendering language into a tool of the government 1984-style, I'd say the right engages in it much more with their coinages that they hammer into the public's consciousness.

"Up or down vote"
"Death tax"
"Flip-flop"
"Personal accounts"

Posted by: Ernst Stavro Blofeld at June 9, 2005 09:02 AM

Don't forget "freedom" and "liberty" from that second inaugural:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/01/20050120-1.html

Now THERE is a great example of government changing the meanings of words to serve its own ends.

Of course, the previous occupant of the White House reduced Orwellian language-abuse to the point of absurdity when he stripped the word "is" of any natural or reasonable meaning.

Posted by: Monkey RobbL at June 9, 2005 10:28 AM

RobbL,

Tangentially - I think it'd be a fun, "Twilight Zone" kind of story; what'd the world be like if a sudden affliction caused everyone in the world to cease to comprehend their language's version of the various conjugations of "To Be".

That would...what's the word I...doh!...

Posted by: mitch at June 9, 2005 10:41 AM

Ernst,

You list a bunch of words that political meanings. I agree - a key part of politics is controlling language.

But words like "genocide" and "holocaust" are a few leagues of moral importance removed from words like "death tax" and "up or down vote", even assuming you're correct about the GOP's activities. No?

Posted by: mitch at June 9, 2005 10:43 AM

Certainly the Republicans have been engaged in attempts at terminology changes to help frame the debate to their advantage. They learned the trick from the use of (for example) "affirmative action", "social security", "welfare", ....

There is a qualititative difference between these or the Republicans' use of "death tax", etc. and the indiscriminate use of "holocaust", "gulag", "genocide", "fascist", "Nazi", "war criminal", etc.

Posted by: Doug Sundseth at June 9, 2005 11:20 AM

I'm not putting those controlling phrases in the same league as the casual misuse/abuse of sacrosanct names of human atrocities, I was just making a point vis-a-vis your comment about Orwellian language manipulation.

Both sides engage in hyperbole; it is to their detriment. And if you disagreee with me, you're worse than Stalin!

"Activist judges"
"Shock and awe"

Posted by: Ernst Stavro Blofeld at June 9, 2005 11:34 AM

Sorry, Blofeld, it's just not working for me. Not that you care, of course ;)

Mitch is complaining about an utterly cynical misrepresentation of reality by the Left; you're countering with examples of pithy evocations of reality (or policy) by the Right.

Now, you may respond that one man's cynical misrepresentation is another's pithy evocation, who's to say what's right, etc. etc. etc. But I submit that "up or down vote" is reasonably used in place of "a full vote on the Senate floor;" "activist judges" is a less reasonable but at least defensible way to describe judges who make decisions based on the penumbra to the Constitution. I'm not saying examples don't exist, just that you haven't really delivered the goods.

Best, B

Posted by: Brian at June 10, 2005 07:42 AM

Brian, you're not following. I'm making a point apropos Mitch's 1984 reference. Start there.

When "up-or-down vote" is repeated ten times in ten minutes in one segment on Fox News, your "pithy evocations of reality" are much more in Big Brother's vernacular than Rangel's ugly hyperbole.

On the other hand, I have to hand it to the GOP for its consistency, however hive-minded it may sound. It's got a drumbeat and you can trance to it.

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