Tags: Semantics | Terrorism

Semantic Distortion — Corruption of Political Discourse

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Friday, 03 Oct 2014 09:45 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Thirty years ago at the height of the Cold War, President Ronald Reagan’s first U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy commissioned this writer to produce a paper explaining the dangers and possible solutions to the serious problem of “semantic infiltration," defined at the time — See: truespeak.org — by US Sen.Daniel Patrick Moynihan as: "Simply put, semantic infiltration is the process whereby we come to adopt the language of our adversaries in describing political reality.

"The most brutal totalitarian regimes in the world call themselves ‘liberation movements.' It is perfectly predictable that they should misuse words to conceal their real nature. But must we aid them in that effort by repeating those words? Worse, do we begin to influence our own perceptions by using them?"

At the time, there was an urgent need to recapture the powerful word and concept of liberation. It was clearly ours when we liberated Europe from Adolf Hitler. Later, the word was virtually co-opted by the communists — to whom it meant the imposition of their progressive and  people’s democratic brands of tyranny on someone else’s colony.

We had almost forgotten how to speak it aloud.

Other examples of semantic distortion abounded in the media, the Congress, the churches, the universities, the State Department, and among the general public:
  • Poland's military dictator was a "martial law leader."
  • Qaddafi's imperialism in Chad was "exporting mischief." Soviet and Cuban imperialism and colonialism were called “adventurism.”
  • Polish political prisoners were labeled "internees" and "detainees."
  • Iranian kidnappers and terrorists in 1979 were "students."
  • Communist militants were "people’s guerillas;" anti-communist ones "death squads."
  • Dialectical materialism masked as "Christian Marxism" and "Liberation Theology."
  • Negotiation at gunpoint with Castroite insurgents was "dialogue" and a "political solution."
  •  For three years, Soviet-aligned Fidel Castro headed the "Nonaligned Movement.”
  • To us "detente" and "peaceful co-existence" meant accommodation, dialogue, trade and aid.
  • To the Soviets these words meant — per Carl von Clausewitz — "the continuation of war by other means.”
  • To us morality meant adherence to Judeo-Christian ethics and human rights.
  • To Leonid Brezhnev, "Anything is moral which furthers the construction of Socialism."
  • Communists were — and still are — called Socialists or leftists, or even progressives – anything but the imperialists, colonialists and fascists — which they truly were.
Although the Public Diplomacy Commission recommended — in three successive years — that the President and the Congress establish a White House Task Force to address the problem, Reagan’s own State Department blocked the idea, insisting that only it could determine what the language of diplomacy should be.


When State attempted to correct the lexicon in its Directory of International Relations Terms in 1987, it was so poorly done that the White House blocked its distribution.
— See: truepeak.org/statesrecallofdirt.

Some 13 years into the Global War On Terrorism, we are once again neck deep into the swamp of  semantic infiltration grasping for the right words — often using the wrong ones. For example:
  • We are still calling al-Qaida and ISIS-style terrorism “radical extremism” and “workplace violence.”
  • Most of us do not even know the simple Arabic word for terrorism – irhab — eer-hahb.
  • We call suicide mass murder “jihadi martyrdom”, rather than “irhabi — terroristic — murderdom.”
  • We are instructed by the President never to link terrorism to the words Muslim or Islamic.
  • We are told by Obama that the self-anointed Islamic State  — or Caliphate — “is not Islamic.”
  • We argue endlessly whether we are “at War” with that Islamic State in Syria and Iraq —ISIS.
  • We equate ISIS with ISIL  – when the Levant includes five nations other than Syria and Iraq.
  • We fail to label this battle to the death between the West and Islamo-fascism as Cold War II.
  • We allow most collectivists, socialists and plantation-state bosses to mask as progressives.
  • We allow radical-Left activists to label almost anything they do as constituting social justice.
  • We forget that three recent Popes have declared “Liberation Theology” a Marxist-inspired heresy.
  • We fail to ask so-called Moderate Muslims why they do not apply to ISIS killers such Islamic religious condemnations as “Shaitani” (Satanic), “khawarij” (outside the religion), “istihlal” (the sin of playing God), “murtadd” (apostasy), mufsiduun (evildoers, mortal sinners) destined for “Jahannam” (Eternal Hellfire).

The list goes forever on, as we continue to suffer deadly injuries from the semantic infiltration which, as the late Senator Pat Moynihan has explained, “It is perfectly predictable that they [our liberationist enemies then and our jihadi enemies now] should misuse words to conceal their real nature. But must we aid them in that effort by repeating those words? Worse, do we begin to influence our own perceptions by using them?"

The Senator reminds us that words are the primary tools by which the heart, mind and soul operate. False words move people in false directions, distracting them from the truth.

Repeat the false word often enough, make certain the truthful alternative is never clearly perceived, and you are able to imprison people within their own minds.

For almost two decades, Jim Guirard served as chief of staff to three House and Senate Committee chairmen: Rep. Edwin Willis, Sen. Allen Ellender, and Sen. Russell Long, and was named to both Who's Who in U.S. Government and Who's Who in American Politics. He worked for over three decades as a government relations consultant, Op-Ed writer, and lecturer on energy, environment, national security and anti-terrorism affairs. He is currently a board member of the American chapter of the MacKinder Forum, a London-based geopolitical affairs think tank, and sponsors the TrueSpeak.org Web site. For more of Jim's reports, Go Here Now.
 

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JimGuirard
Repeat the false word often enough, make certain the truthful alternative is never clearly perceived, and you are able to imprison people within their own minds.
Semantics, Terrorism
913
2014-45-03
Friday, 03 Oct 2014 09:45 AM
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