Belaboring the Obvious

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The George Orwell Guide to Bush English

Billmon's reminder of George Orwell's dictum that modern political speech is intended to obscure, that "In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible . . . Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness.... Such phraseology is needed if one wants to name things without calling up mental pictures of them" is more true today than ever, which is why so many choose to call the Bushies' political speech "Orwellian," without necessarily recalling the underlying reasons for doing so.

The genuinely Orwellian aspect (in the sense the word is used contemporaneously, as an invocation of Animal Farm and 1984) is that the press in the United States use and pass on and institutionalize the phraseology of the Bush cabal, rather than translating its euphemisms into standard English. It is one thing to quote accurately. It is quite another to leave the quote to stand as its own explanation of itself, and the press, particularly the television press, is very frequently guilty of the latter.

To that end, an abbreviated Bush administration-to-English translation guide:

  • rendition = state-sponsored kidnapping by agents of the United States for the purpose of torture and imprisonment of suspects, innocent and guilty alike, without consideration of human rights and due process.
  • shock and awe = 1. mass bombing of civilian areas and civilian infrasture. 2. A pyrotechnic show employing explosives to demonstrate miitary might without the use of nuclear weapons, which ultimately kills civilians. Its intent is to impress domestic audiences, rather than foreign ones.
  • Islamic fascism = a wholly imaginary construct intended to conflate current Bush wars of opportunity and marginalized Islamist movements with WWII and Hitler in self-aggrandizing fashion.
  • precision-guided weapons = bombs, rockets and missiles for use in combat against military targets, typically using laser or satellite guidance, which still kill many civilians. Evocation of precision of targetting is now the current defense for the incidental use of bombs on civilians, since the phrase "collateral damage" has mostly fallen into disuse among the military due to widespread snickering at their use of it.
  • democracy = Orwell's definition remains true: "It is almost universally felt that when we call a country democratic we are praising it: consequently the defenders of every kind of regime claim that it is a democracy, and fear that they might have to stop using that word if it were tied down to any one meaning. Words of this kind are often used in a consciously dishonest way." But, for Bush, it is safe to say that--with regard to the Middle East--that it does not include countries with democratically-elected leaders of movements antithetical to the interests of the United States (e.g. Hamas in the occupied territories and Hizbollah in Lebanon), but does include monarchies and virtual dictatorships where ordinary citizens have little to no influence on their national leadership (e.g. Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt).
  • freedom = For Bush, particularly at home and in the Middle East, this is a state of being in which citizens and leaders alike act in ways desired by Bush, exemplified by the mindless consumption of tawdry, cheaply-made goods offered by American corporations, expressions of fealty to Bush and to the "free market," and by the willingness to be dictated to by Bush and his government.
  • terrorist surveillance program = indiscriminate spying on anyone without warrant, through a conscious and deliberate process of ignoring Constitutional due process.
  • free market = syn. with "free trade." The utopian belief, driven by the avarice of the wealthy and powerful, that American multinational corporations, unfettered by rules and regulations and taxation, at home and abroad, are good for everyone and will always act responsibly, i.e., a fiction.
  • alternative methods of interrogation = torture.
  • peace = war at Bush's will and convenience, or the continued threat of same, with the intent of achieving "freedom" and "democracy" (see above).
  • unlawful combatant = an individual denied status as either a criminal suspect or as a prisoner of war, and thus denied the rights of either. Anyone, U.S. citizen or foreigner, under suspicion, whom the government desires to deny habeas corpus and basic human rights.
  • war on terror = this is not an actual war, but rather one declared by Bush himself, in order to convince himself and others that he has special wartime powers as if Congress itself had Constitutionally declared war on another nation-state. Moreover, use of the phrase is an attempt to shield from adverse public opinion the extra-legal activities of his administration by claiming wartime powers.
  • long war = see "war on terror."
  • terrorist = (in order of general rhetorical usage) 1. anyone interfering with Cheney's desire for U.S. multinationals and U.S. military forces to control the world's oil production points and routes of transport. 2. anyone using violence to oppose Israel's occupation of lands not its own, to include parts of Palestine, Lebanon and Syria. 3. Muslims, generally. 4. anyone violently opposing the U.S. military and economic occupation of Iraq. 5. anyone in the United States opposed to Bush's foreign or domestic policies. 6. those individuals responsible for the planning and execution of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, on the United States.
  • terra = terror.
  • fear = a desirable national state of being, for narrow political purposes.
  • meaningful strategic dialogue = 1. conspiracy. 2. no truly productive results.
  • birth pangs = death rattle.
  • moral authority = a figment of the U.S. imagination, appearing in times of greatest U.S.-induced world strife.
  • extremist = any non-Judeo-Christian religious fanatic.
  • voting rights = the God-given right to Republican one-party rule.


  • Hello Montag and all,

    All three Faiths of Abraham spawn violence and hypocrisy

    Christians and Jews can smugly lecture and chastise Muslims about violence, because followers of Islam are poorer, more oppressed, and thereby forced to defend themselves in cruder fashion. On the other hand, the rich and powerful nations of the west can fund, train, and equip state of the art militaries and intelligence services to do their bidding, by proxy. Likewise, smooth-talking politicians expertly equivocate about acceptable collateral damage to the homes and lives of poor people in other lands. With so many dollars spent, why don’t Muslims and others simply shut up and accept being exploited, oppressed, and massacred for such nobly expressed western ideals?

    Those in representative democracies tout their governments as extensions of the citizenry. Accordingly, so are the militaries, intelligence services, corporations and other proxies used to expand and maintain the Judeo-Christian Empire. By extension, the citizens of western nations are much more responsible for the actions of criminals, killers, and torturers paid for and authorized by democratic institutions than people who live in less democratic nations who have much less control over the actions of their leaders.

    It is undeniable that the Bush administration, its cohorts, and supporters are mostly Christian. Without the blind support of so many Judeo-Christians, the Bush administration would not now be embroiled in the current struggle to retroactively legalize torture, illegal domestic spying, and other crimes. By US law, hiring a proxy to murder or assault someone is still prosecuted as murder and assault. It is undeniable that the militaries and intelligence services of the west that kill and torture at the behest of democratic representatives are hired proxies of Judeo-Christian citizens.

    Regardless of attempts to shift blame, history clearly records the widespread crimes of Christianity. Whether we're talking about the abominations of the Inquisition, Crusades, the greed and genocide of colonizers, slavery in the Americas, or the Bush administration's recent deeds and results, Christianity has always spawned great evil.

    So, the next time any Christian, Jew, or Muslim, whether president, prime minister, religious leader or follower decides to chastise others for their failings, stop to consider that the logs in your own eyes have blinded you to the full truth about all three faiths of Abraham. Religion has utterly failed to solve humanity's problems because it is a strong delusion that spawns error and evil instead. The sheep's clothing of duplicitous ideals is an obvious deception used to hide the truth. Nonetheless, the veil is readily pierced by discerning the fruits of their deeds.

    Here is Wisdom...

    By Blogger Seven Star Hand, at 2:58 PM  

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