Posted by Michael Bauer on August 21, 2002
In Reply to: Getting our hair mussed posted by Word Camel on August 21, 2002
: : : : : No activity can compete in the generation of double talk and euphemism like warfare. Without wishing to offend our American friends, no country is so good at this as the USA. Collatoral damage, friendly fire, liquidation etc. Even shell shock, with it's clear associations with explosives is now 'post-traumatic stress disorder'.
: : : : : There's a bunch of US governemnt spokespeople, spin doctors and allied trades in Britain at the moment trying to drum up support for their plan to bomb Iraq. I heard a new euphemism to treasure. In a BBC interview a spokeswoman flatly denied there would be a war with Iraq. Apparently it will be a 'regime change'. Sounds almost cosy, like ethnic cleansing.
: : : : : Mind you the UK spin doctors are catching up fast. In the same broadcast a UK polititian promoted the idea of hanging by saying it would save lives.
: : : : What is it about the Bushes? With George senior we had surgical strikes' and 'smart bombs' and with the current administration we have 'regime change' and the vaguely Teutonic "homeland security". I am also bothered names chosen for military operations such as "Infinite Justice" and" Enduring Freedom", which seem as defensive as they are over-the-top.
: : : : It's enough to make a Camel turn to faith-based initiatives!
: : : These Texans seem determined to plunge into this regardless. It's a cowboy-oil guy-thing. You stick a pipe in the ground, and take oil out. No time-consuming diplomacy, consensus-building, or bothersome collaboration needed. Wrap a flag around it, throw out some smoke and mirrors from the department of spin, and Joe Sixpack will buy it.
: : "Mr. President, I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed. But, I do say no more than ten to twenty million killed, TOPS. Uh, depending on the breaks." George C. Scott (General Turgidson), "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb"
: : Has anyone seen "Black Hawk Down"? That was pretty real as far as what happens during war. At least it looked real to me.
: I know I should see Black Hawk Down, but a few years back, when I was running a photography gallery (photo journalism mostly) in London, I had an exhibition of photos taken during the "humanitarian intervention" in Somalia. You might remember a helicopter raid on a compound in Mogadishu supposedly aimed at getting the warlord, General Aideed. The intelligence for the raid was bad. Aideed wasn't there. But the most prominent leaders of Somalia's fledgling democratic movement were. They were meeting to attempt to come up with proposals for forming a new government after the UN withdrew. Anyway the raid succeeded in wiping out most of the educated classes in the capital in a single swoop. Some Somalis living in London were there making a video at the meeting and subsequently filmed the raid and its aftermath and brought it to the gallery. It was the most horrific thing I have ever seen. One moment there were teachers and professionals trying to set an agenda for the day, and then suddenly it was like being plunged into a scene from hell. I showed it to some photo journalists I know, who said it seemed genuine based on what they knew of the situation and Mogadishu.
: Well, that's as close to war as I hope I'll ever get. I'm not anxious to repeat the experience even if it's with Ridley Scott. And in case you are wondering, I kept the video at the gallery and showed it to anyone who wanted to see it.
I'm an American. As an American I am in no way offended by the truth you have stated about the US being good with euphemism and double talk. Should we be proud of this ability? I don't know, but it sure is good for entertainment purposes - if there is any entertainment in misfortune. Americans do have a way of sugar-coating distateful things - always have - always will. One of our comedians, George Carlin, has made a routine out of our way of making things sound "antiseptic".