Monday, November 15, 2004

More Linguistic Mischief

‘Disenfranchise’ and ‘unilateral’ are two words the misuse of which by libs and lefties I have already excoriated. Anent the latter, just yesterday Maureen Dowd, in a talk to the Miami International Book Fair, (mis)used ‘unilateral’ to refer to U.S. operations in Iraq. I fail to see how the efforts of a 30 member coalition can be called ‘unilateral.’ What she really wants to say is that the operations in question do not bear the U.N. stamp of approval. Then why doesn’t she say that?

Say what you mean, mean what you say, and then give your arguments. Don’t try to win by verbal sleight of hand. Intelligent people see right through verbal obfuscation, whether you call it ‘framing’ or whatever. And then you look either dumb or dishonest.

Today I introduce a new example: ‘one-party system.’ Some of our lib-leftie brethren are now misusing this word, the meaning of which is quite plain, to refer to the post-election power apportionment. The Republicans won the presidency as well as picking up seats in the Senate (5) and the House of Representatives (4) thereby further solidifying the Republican majorities in those chambers.

So how does a language-hijacking liberal describe the situation? One-party system. Do I really need to point out the stupidity of this? Apparently I do. If there is a majority party and a minority party, then you have two – count ‘em – two parties. If you hanker after a one-party system, pay a visit to Fidel down in his island paradise.

But I hear an objection coming: Republicans do the same thing! Do they? Off the top of my head, I can only think of one example, namely referring to the estate tax as a ‘death tax.’ ‘Estate tax’ is the right term for the simple reason that it is not a tax on dying, but a tax on the transfer of assets on the occasion of the asset-owner’s death when the value of said assets exceeds a certain amount.

If anyone has other examples, I will consider them.

But I don’t accept Paul Krugman’s example given in his talk at the Miami Book Fair. He was complaining about conservatives and libertarians who speak of reforming rather than privatizing Social Security. Where is the linguistic abuse here? A partial privatization and gradual phase-out of the current system constitute a much-needed reform of the system. There is no abuse of language here but merely the avoidance of a word that scares some people.
And why does it scare them? Because of continual liberal misrepresentations: the mean Republicans are going take away your Social Security; they are going to force you to put it all in risky stock market investments, and so on.