Spades are Tiddly-Winks

November 25, 2010

“…bland bureaucratic euphemisms [may] conceal great crimes. As their meanings become clear, these collocations gain an aura of horror. In the past century, the Final Solution and Ethnic Cleansing were phrases that sent a chill through our lexicon.”
James Saffire
(quoted in Jane Mayer: “The Dark Side”)

precision bombing (bombing… a term in use since since, at least, WW2)
pacification (Vietnam: driving away and/or obliterating of all potential resistance)
strategic hamlet (Vietnam: camp for the detention of civilians)
enhanced interrogation (interrogation under torture)
robust interrogation (same)
special interrogation (same)
targeted killing (political murder)
assassination (political murder)
elimination (killed)
high value target (human being)
neutralize (kill)
rendition (abduction and transfer of someone to facilitate interrogation under torture)
fallen soldier (dead combatant)
passed away (died)
terrorist (militants we oppose)
militant (a combatant that we do not like)
freedomfighter (a combatant that we like)
contractor (mercenary)
mercenary (combatant hired by someone we do not like)
boot camp (privatized prision, featuring rehabilitation by harsh treatment)
concentration camp (WW2 and beyond: many were death facilities, not holding pens)
internment camp (a concentration camp run by ourselves or our friends)
detention facility/center (variously prision, or concentration camp)
refugee (someone fleeing dangers we ackowledge)
migrant (birds, or someone leaving conditioins we do not acknowledge as troubled)
economic migrants (someone hoping to escape poverty abroad)
asylum seekers (refugees we are not ready, or willing, to recognize as such)
idps (refugees who do not managed to cross a border)
improvised explosive device (bomb… ied helps make the enemy seem like rouge militants, amateurs and terrorists)
soften up (abuse in preparation for, or in the process of, interrogation. In the case of at least one detainee in Afghanistan — admitted by US military coroner’s report — beat his legs until they are, and this is not a paraphrase: “pulpified”).

Euphemisms can also be inverted.

When looking at regimes we dislike, it is not uncommon for the fatal shooting or beating (killing) of an unarmed protester to be referred to as “murder”.  Besides disapproving vague connotations of evil, “murder” more precisely refers an act of violence which deliberately kills a specific individual.
Along the same lines, Chomsky points out that a solider can not be “kidnapped”. The use of the term this way is especially familiar from Israeli conflicts with Lebanon and Palenstian Gaza.  Enemies capture soldiers.





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