Abuse of language threatens American freedoms


James J. Zogby
The Jordan Times
March 2, 2010

  • A d v e r t i s e m e n t
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The last US administration displayed a rather perverse and dangerous penchant for dressing up its behaviour, providing it with religious or patriotic intent.

President George Bush packaged the Iraq war, for example, as America’s mission – having been charged by God to bring the gift of freedom to the world. The “war on terror” was presented through the lens of World War II and the cold war, and transformed into a battle of cosmic proportions against those who “hate our freedom” and “our way of life”. US troops who were sent into battle in Iraq were seen as “defending our freedom” or “making America safe”.

One could, of course, argue with this crass manipulation of potent symbols, though, at the time, few did. Politicians were especially hesitant to criticise this hyper-inflated rhetoric, not wanting to appear insensitive to the public’s fear or disrespectful of the sacrifices of those who had died or been maimed in the Iraq war.

Left unchallenged, this abuse of language continued to grow and become accepted in some quarters, doing damage to our political discourse and distorting our sense of reality.

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