ROBERT HARKINS J.D.
If you have read this far, you know that the “English language is in a bad way. While the O’Bama Administration, true to Chicago politics, is shredding truth and pitching falsehoods, its invention of euphemisms has transformed language into Rapp-beat Art. Americans are already wary of the government euphemisms Revenue Enhancement, Resources, and Investment. They prefer instead the honest word “Tax.” When government engages in Revenue Enhancement, or when it is marauding for Resources, that is, as it seeks new ways to pillage your paycheck money for government Investment, it uses the state’s police power to take it from you. When Presidents Bill Clinton and Baraq O’Bama decided to impose new taxes, they explained that they would ask Americans to pay their fair share. Ask! How could they describe the imposition of the state’s police power as a mere request. If the Presidents had merely requested additional taxes many of us might have politely declined.
Chief Supreme Court Justice John Marshall, shortly after the drafting of the American Constitution, wrote that, “The power to tax, involves the power to destroy.” Two centuries later, Americans must bear witness to the destruction wrought by the unrestrained imposition of the Police Power to run up obscene deficits— taxes imposed over and above taxes taken directly from American wealth— to borrow, print, spend, steal and squander so much of America’s wealth that indebted generations unborn will not possess the wealth to pay it down.
Virtually all Americans are privy to the government’s bastardization of words. A degree in English is not necessary to understand that the invention of the euphemisms, Overseas Contingency Operation and Man made Disaster is intended to obscure the fact of Islamic Jihadist Terrorism, the terrorist suicide bombing and slaughter of innocent, defenseless men, women and children. It is past time to repudiate the government’s destruction of clarity in words. The late journalist and author, George Orwell explains that if we embrace the discipline of oral and written clarity we will avoid the mental vices of government language. We will,
…think more clearly, and to think clearly is a necessary first step toward political regeneration: so that the fight against bad English is not frivolous and is not the exclusive concern of professional writers.
Orwell did not live to hear shouted at Americans vacuous slogans such as Yes we can but he warned against the easy acceptance of political language.
Words of this kind are often used in a consciously dishonest way. That is, the person who uses them has his own private definition, but allows his hearer to think he means something quite different. Statements like… The Soviet press is the freest in the world,… are almost always made with intent to deceive. Other words used in variable meanings, in most cases more or less dishonestly, are: class, totalitarian, science, progressive, reactionary, bourgeois, equality.
Is there an American graduate from high school or college who has not read a paragraph similar to that Orwell composes here to explain how modern writing can shrive even from a poem in Ecclesiastes, its clear and elegant meaning? “Now that I have made this catalogue of swindles and perversions, let me give another example of the kind of writing that they lead to….
I returned and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.
Here it is in modern English:
Objective considerations of contemporary phenomena compel the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account.
Governments use metaphors to obscure meaning and intention. The President told Americans that everybody has to have some skin in the game. Interesting, but just what did the President mean? Orwell, warns that when a politician uses metaphors, “…it can be taken as certain that [he] is not seeing a mental image of the objects he is naming; in other words he is not really thinking.” [Where, for example, is there meaning in the title of this column]?
Indeed, when listening to politicians, Orwell admitted, as we Americans might also admit, to “…a curious feeling that one is not watching a live human being but some kind of dummy…. A speaker who uses that kind of phraseology has gone some distance toward turning himself into a machine. The appropriate noises are coming out of his larynx, but his brain is not involved, as it would be if he were choosing his words for himself. If the speech he is making is one that he is accustomed to make over and over again, he may be almost unconscious of what he is saying…. And this reduced state of consciousness, if not indispensable, is at any rate favourable to political conformity….”
What then are Americans to do? Well, writes Orwell, remember that, “In our age there is no such thing as ‘keeping out of politics’. All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred, and schizophrenia.” Therefore, “If you simplify your English, you are freed from the worst follies of orthodoxy.” And remember that, “Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind….” One cannot change this all in a moment, but one can at least change one's own habits, and from time to time one can even, if one jeers loudly enough, send some worn-out and useless phrase [like Overseas Contingency Operations]— or other lump of verbal refuse — into the dustbin where it belongs.”
What is to be done? Americans must insist on facts. They must not be mute and passive to the Administration’s passing of pure wind, however solid in appearance. Americans must jeer loudly at euphemisms that demean truth and plain, clear words. When necessary, Americans should call a speech for what it is: verbal refuse. And finally, when the Administration, its senators, congressman, and talking heads hand you wordy trash, hand it back with this:
The Fascist Octopus has sung its Swan Song,
The Jackboot is thrown into the Melting Pot.
What do you think?