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A Few Words on Language

January 30th, 2002 - 7:58 pm

A Few Words on Language
The words we use are important. Vocabulary adds context for the listener. That’s why I was so struck when President Bush used the phrase “the civilized world” last night.

Those three simple words imply so much about a worldview that I thought was largely forgotten. I won’t bother trying to explain it — you either already know and agree or disagree, or you’re too out of it for me to bother playing teacher.

That’s why in my last post, I used the word “barbarians” to describe the captors of Daniel Pearl. And I’m going to use that word from now on to describe terrorists and terrorism. You see, those barbarians don’t deserve the stature granted them by being thought of as “-ists” who believe in an “-ism.” They are barbarians, something out of a dark past century, armed with modern conveniences and weapons. But don’t let the veneer of cell phones, web addresses, or electronic detonators fool you; they are no more civilized than a wild proto-man of pre-history who has just learned to bash his neighbor with a stick. They want to destroy civilization, they want to turn back the clock.

Don’t let them even slow the clock down, don’t grant them a title they don’t deserve.

I’ve been far too serious tonight. I promise to get back to being flippant and useless tomorrow.