The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. -George Orwell, “Politics and the English Language,” 1946
On this day in 2001 during a televised address to a joint session of the United States
Congress, U.S. President George W. Bush declared a “war on terror” against Al-Qaeda and other global terrorist groups.
Around 2001 there was also a war on language and it may seem asinine but it’s important. For terrified people a war on terror can be welcomed even if it costs us the truth or rights.
This declaration of war on a feeling (terror) or a tactic (terrorism) by a president, (instead of constitutionally, as by Congress) launched the country and its national discourse headfirst into a long, confusing battle over language we are still fighting.
“Death panels”, “I want my country back” and “Ground-zero mosque” are but a few phrases thrown about we still struggle with that obscure the truth. This language affects thought and then reality.
When one has a need to lie one finds a need to play with language. Think about it, would a “War For Oil” be something that would make you feel safe or something you would support? Or would a “War On Terror” be easier to buy into?