True, Frank.But the media also announces who "took responsibility" for the bombing, the assassination, the beheading, etc., when the perps took nothing of the kind. This expression has been due for the slaughterhouse since the IRA mayhem in the 1960s.These routine expressions dull us to the fact that words have real meanings – as shown by the fact that Weiner could mouth this platitude without any sense of contradiction at all. A fairly snarky man's single most non-snarky moment becomes ... a lie.
Calling bin Laden's death "liquidation" is also pretty Orwellian, it seems to me. Let's call a spade a spade: it was a retaliatory political assassination.But then, a great deal of political euphemism is and always has been Orwellian.
Thanks, Art. Liquidation is a strange term – does he dissolve into water? One gets kind of stuck on these – what neutral term can one say nowadays? Osama bin Laden's offing?
I don't think there IS a neutral term. I think you have to call an assassination what it is. I think we have to be honest when murder is murder, and not whitewash it. (The best argument, for example, that I've heard against the death penalty is that it means that murder is criminalized for anyone to commit *except* the state.) Similarly, assassination needs to be called what it is, and acknowledged as the political tool it has always been, sanctioned or otherwise. History may show if this particular sanctioned assassination (sometimes called a "sanction," or "termination with extreme prejudice") was the right and good thing to do. Lots of people are claiming that already, but they're also ignoring what making someone into a martyr can do. It's a tricky call, and those who set policy OUGHT to loose sleep over it.But that's the whole pattern that Orwell pointed out, isn't it: the neutralization of language into mechanical, denatured, unemotional, technical terminology that allows one to deal with humans as dehumanized. Turn people into inhuman statistics, and you can sleep at night when you talk about "collateral damage," or "friendly fire," for example. Do that kind of neutralization of language enough, and you dehumanize yourself as well, Orwell warned.And so did Mark Twain, in "The Way Prayer."
I must confess a fondness for the euphemism "terminate with extreme prejudice."