Ophemisms…”Words. Just Words.”

Since we are all about changing what we call things in my country, I decided to create a new word to use instead of “euphemism” which can be used when Obamessiah and his faithful rename something in their attempts to strip the word of its original power, or to change its meaning entirely.

I have ALWAYS, and I mean ALWAYS been juuuust a little bit irritated by the renaming of things.  Like when “we” decided “we” should call blacks “African-Americans”.  The only real African-Americans are americans who used to live in Africa but now live in America, not anyone with dark skin who may or may not be of African decent.  I mean, I am of European decent, but I don’t want to be called a “European-American” for heaven’s sake.  I’m okay with being “white”.  In fact, one of my friends/co-workers called me out when I refered to a patient as being “black”.  “We prefer the term ‘African-American'”.  I explained to her my reasoning behind using black instead, and she understood, but wished I would use African-American instead of black in the future, for her at least.  So I did.  Hence the birth of the African-American jelly bean.  I substituted “African-American” for black wherever I could.  She got the humor in it but also really got my point…just because it’s black doesn’t mean it’s from Africa…and let me off the hook.

Other euphemisms I don’t like?  “The Korean conflict” instead of “the Korean war”.  “Physically challenged” or “other-abled” instead of “handicapped” or “disabled”.  The changes I dislike the most are those changed for political reasons or to be politically correct. 

Which brings me back around to the new Ophemisms, which I find particularly odious.

“Man caused disaster” instead of “terrorism”, “Overseas Contingency Operation” instead of “Global War on Terror”, “detainees” instead of “enemy combatants”.  Newspeak, just like George Orwell wrote about.

Apparently there is a Winston Smith sitting at a desk somewhere in Washington DC who receives scraps of paper with items on them that need rewriting in order to make them fit in with Big Brother’s agenda for his society and to change the perceptions of the people (my favorite changes were the rewriting of chocolate rations and the creation of Comrade Ogilvy out of thin air).  So this DC Winston wannabe rewrites what the administration needs whitewashed, hands them to the administration which trots them out, thus changing history in a way, or at least attempting to change the meaning of history and words by changing the words themselves.  “Detainee” means nothing.  “Enemy combatant” says something.  “Man caused disaster”?  This befuddles me entirely.  Since this crowd is also the global warming crowd, and global warming is also (to them) a man caused disaster, does this not put all of humanity on the same scale as far as guilt in disasters is concerned?  Does that not put the average world citizen who goes about his/her daily life just living and creating greenhouse gases in the process into the same category as those who seek to kill and destroy just for death and destruction’s sake?  Are they saying that we are all just terrorists in our own way?  Or are they saying terrorism is just another “disaster”.  And we are tired of disasters because the words disaster and crisis have been used to describe pretty much anything remotely bad and have thus lost their power as descriptive words altogether.

Words mean something.  Words have historical value.  In WWII millions were terrorized, tortured, and died in death pogroms and death camps across Europe.  Would these people also just be “detainees” in todayspeak?  We call that “the holocaust”.  Holocaust is a word that is ripe with emotion and depth.  It MEANS something.  It stirs up our pathos, our horror, our disgust, and our shame.  The holocaust wasn’t the “European Detainee Contingency”, or the “Continental Pajama Party”.  It was the holocaust.

Calling the war on terror the “Overseas Contingency Plan” intimates that we don’t have to deal with terrorism on our soil.  It’s not overseas when it happens here.  Terrorists are HERE.  Or they are coming here.  They don’t stay overseas.  I guess calling it the “Overseas Contingency Plan” is doubleplusgood to some, but for me?  It’s doubleplusungood.

If you haven’t read George Orwell’s “1984” or “Animal Farm”, it’s time you did so.  Both are powerful and deliberate editorials on government and what it can do when it has too much power.  Both contain elements of rewriting words and changing their meanings and intents and how doing this plays into ongoing perpetration of ideology and the watering down of truths.

It’s time we start to take a really hard look at the changes going on around us and stop taking things at face value.  Like Obama said, words are important.  They aren’t “just words”.  When running for president, Obama gave a speech where he talked about the importance of words.  Because he DOES place importance on words, we need delve deep into the words he is using…especially into his new words.  He is changing terminology for specific reasons, and my question is WHY?  What is his intent in doing so?  Trust me, there’s a specific agenda in it.

It’s time to really listen to the words being spoken.  And especially to the reinvented words.  And it’s time to start asking “to what end are these changes being made?”.

Afterall.  Words aren’t just words.

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About Lou (Linda)

Just a girl from Colorado trying to live life to God's glory with a certain amount of gusto! View all posts by Lou (Linda)

2 responses to “Ophemisms…”Words. Just Words.”

  • Holly

    Nicely stated! Well put. That’s all I have to say. My biggest pet-peeve with renames is the right’s (sarcastic) name for Obama: “Messiah”; which we, of course, absolutely knows he’s not. I know they use it for emphasis in sarcasm but seriously, when did our Savior’s title become a sarcastic word?! Where’s the reverence for the title go? Now they just simply use fling it around hoping to irritate the left. All this to say, I think it’s crass and disrespectful (and yes, I’m a strong Republican).

  • Author

    A great post and I couldn’t agree more. Semantics drive me mad – like cleaning up a place (bombing it).

    I studied linguistics at university and began to really notice the power of words way back then. I’m the sort of person who spots an equivocation a mile off – no politician would get away without answering if I was the interviewer.

    Just give me the chance – I’d love to tie ’em up in truthful knots.

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