When the Bush administration coined the phrase “The War on Terror” after 9/11, it was a politically correct expedient for not wanting to reference the religion of the vast majority of its participants, and/or the region of the world that spawned them. As Diana West wrote in 2007’s The Death of the Grown-Up, “There is a hollowness to the whole enterprise…a barren chamber where the empty slogan ‘war on terror’ echoes on without meaning:”
That is, terror is a tactic. You don’t make war on a tactic; you make war on the people who use it. Imagine if FDR had declared “the war on sneak attack” or the “war on blitzkrieg.” It doesn’t make sense and neither does “war on terror.” And not only does it not make sense, it also uncovers our biggest handicap going in: that perilous lack of cultural confidence, that empty core at our heart.
Naturally, the Bush administration having already censored themselves in the early naughts, their truly PC successors in the White House would go even further, as Victor Davis Hanson recently noted, when discussing the Tsarnaev family with Mona Charen at Ricochet:
I mean, he could have easily stayed in Chechnya if it was so wonderful, and dealt with the Russians, but his family chose not to. So they came out to an embracing, affable society that allowed them a second chance in a way that millions would have only dreamed of. And then his reaction is to do that to the society that nourished him.
And it’s disgusting, but it’s almost as if, the more that he sees this popular culture that we’ve been talking about. And then he sees the official reaction: “man-caused disasters,” “overseas contingency operations”; can’t use the word “terrorist”; can’t use the word “Islamist”; gotta create an idea of “workplace violence” for Maj. Hasan. He gets the other message that we’re sort of so easy-going that nothing really gets us upset. And instead of having respect for that liberality, he grows contemptuous of it.
But while the “Progressive” overculture apparently can’t call terrorists terrorists now, it can call everything else that. QED:
Why do liberals consider domestic violence “terrorism” but they’re afraid to call real terrorism what it is? twitter.com/caseykim12/sta…
— CG Casey Kim (@caseykim12) April 28, 2013
And Ace notes how the Washington Post’s tut-tutting article on a recent conservative sting video documenting late term abortions concludes:
An antiabortion group that mounted a six-month undercover investigation has released videos this week that raise questions about what might happen to a baby as a result of an unsuccessful abortion.
One video features a D.C. doctor, Cesare Santangelo, who said that in the unlikely event that an abortion resulted in a live birth, “we would not help it.” Santangelo was answering repeated questions from an undercover operative about what would happen, hypothetically, if she gave birth after an unsuccessful abortion.
“I mean, technically, you know, legally, we would be obligated to help it, you know, to survive, but . . . it probably wouldn’t,” Santangelo is shown telling the woman, who was 24 weeks pregnant. “It’s all in how vigorously you do things to help a fetus survive at this point.”
He said he was “tripped up” by a hypothetical at a moment when he was trying to reassure a client. “Once the baby is born, it’s out of everybody’s hands, and the baby has rights, too,” he said. “I understand that and I support that.”
* * * * *
He said he has not watched the video because “I don’t like to feed into these people. I really consider them terrorists.”
As with numerous papers in 2009 condemning James O’Keefe’s ACORN sting, I await the blanket condemnation by the Post and its subsidiaries of CBS’s long-running 60 Minutes series. As Jonah Goldberg wrote in early 2001, before 9/11 and the birth of the Blogosphere:
60 Minutes has used secret cameras for decades and earned awards and ratings for it. But when 60 Minutes used a hidden camera to snoop on another journalist a few years ago, heads exploded in the hallowed halls of elite journalism. Why? Because we don’t do that sort of thing to our own. We only screw outsiders. Why do you think the media despised Linda Tripp so? It wasn’t just that she made life for Bill Clinton so uncomfortable; she was a scab, using the very techniques that thousands of journalists use each and every day. And she did it to protect herself! Nevertheless, when a private citizen employs such tactics she’s seen as an immoral betrayer of a friend. When a journalist does it, she’s a “news hound” — and an ethical one at that.
Oh and by the way, the real terrorism? No need to worry about it, when there are much more abstract “crises” to obsess on. While I was poking around my archives the other day, I came across this 2008 quote from Nanny Bloomberg:
“Terrorists kill people. Weapons of mass destruction have the potential to kill an enormous amount of people,” Mr. Bloomberg told reporters after addressing the U.N. General Assembly, but “global warming in the long term has the potential to kill everybody.”
Yes, it’s almost as lethal as a 64-oz bottle of Coke.
Or as Mark Steyn’s latest column on the euphemistic language employed by the media to cover (0r not) the Gosnell trial and the Tsarnaev Brothers concludes:
You can understand why American progressivism would rather avert its gaze. Out there among the abortion absolutists, they’re happy to chit-chat about the acceptable parameters of the “collapsing of the skull,” but the informed general-interest reader would rather it all stayed at the woozy, blurry “woman’s right to choose” level.
We’re collapsing our own skulls here — the parameters in which we allow ourselves to think about abortion, welfare, immigration, terrorism, Islam shrink remorselessly, not least at the congressional level. Maybe if we didn’t collapse the skulls of so many black babies in Philadelphia, we wouldn’t need to import so many excitable young Chechens. But that’s thinking outside the box, and the box is getting ever smaller, like a nice, cozy cocoon in which we’re always warm and safe. Like — what’s the word? — a womb.
We’re certainly collapsing our own vocabulary, as a certain Mr. Eric Blair predicted 65 years ago:
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Update: So what happens when the Newspeak Dictionary shrinks even further? Headlines such as this one at The Hill today: “Dem resolution warns climate change could push women to ‘transactional sex,’” with the latest PC euphemisms for both “global warming” and prostitution in one silly headline, reporting on an even more ridiculous bill.