How Politics Tortures Language

Member Group : Jerry Shenk

In an address delivered to about 50.000 people gathered in St. Peter’s Square for one of his final public appearances, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of Christ’s temptation in the desert, saying, "The tempter is subtle: he does not push us directly toward evil, but to a false good."

That’s true of much in modern life. In perfect mergers of sophistry and mendacity which commit violence upon language and logic, ideological inveiglers misapply inoffensive words to disguise lousy conduct or policies in ways which allow them to feel virtuous without acting virtuously and morally superior without a moral foundation.

Some Americans marginalize both conscience and good sense by limiting their perceptions of virtue to how they think and vote while passing off personal responsibilities to an abstraction – a faceless, inefficient, unsupervised and often corrupt government – and demonizing others who don’t share their "enlightened" points of view.

Some false-good phraseology is transparently self-serving and harmlessly laughable.

Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer captured examples of "the [Obama] administration’s penchant for wordplay, the bending of language to fit a political need. In Janet Napolitano’s famous formulation, terror attacks are now ‘man-caused disasters.’ And the ‘Global War on Terror’ is…now an ‘overseas contingency operation.’

"Nidal Hasan proudly tells a military court that he…killed 13 American soldiers in the name of jihad. But the massacre [was] officially classified as an act of … ‘workplace violence.’"

If only all examples of "false goods" were equally silly.

Even though illegal aliens broke American laws to come or stay here, advocates attempt to justify general amnesty by using false "goods" to blur the semantic distinction between "legal" and "illegal."

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called illegal immigrants "undocumented Americans." The New York Times used the term "would-be Americans." Other immigration-related euphemisms include "comprehensive immigration reform" and "undocumented job-seekers."

But, the language of abortion may contain the most offensive examples of euphemistic license.

Abortion is the willful act of killing a developing child in the womb.
That fact cannot be obscured by false "goods" like "privacy," "a mass of cells," lumps of protoplasm," "products of conception," "terminating pregnancy," "women’s health, "reproductive health" or "choice."
A "right" to abortion assumes that someone has the right to decide if an innocent other will die.

Merely stating simple facts about amnesty or abortion invites the wrath of people who prefer less scrupulous descriptions – "false goods."
Now, for some irony.

Since a black man won the office, some of the president’s supporters have called his critics "racists" simply to shut down legitimate debate and to gain political advantage. No "false goods" here. Viciously toxic, even when completely unwarranted, charges of racism allow no defense.

Many of the same people who unfairly and frivolously hurl charges of racism also favor amnesty for illegal immigrants and abortion "rights." Let’s examine how those policies will affect or have affected black Americans.

After more than 200 years — even as new citizens change the aggregate landscape of American society — few oppose legal immigration in numbers permitting assimilation into American life. But, if enacted, open borders and amnesty will harm America’s black communities.

At a time when 46 million (disproportionately black) Americans receive food stamps; when millions are officially out of work; when one-in-three Americans lacking a high-school diploma remains jobless; when black communities are already suffering historic levels of unemployment; and when, in only four years, median black household income fell by more than $4,000, amnesty for 12 million illegal aliens would sacrifice the economic interests of legal Americans so self-interested politicians can enlarge their voting base.
More (including black) citizens will lose jobs if amnesty floods the unskilled labor market.

Planned Parenthood, America’s largest abortion provider, was founded by Margaret Sanger, an avowed racist and prominent early-20th Century eugenicist who sought to limit the growth of America’s black population. "More children from the fit, less from the unfit," Sanger wrote, "unfit" her code for "Negroes."

In keeping with Sanger’s vision, since the Roe v. Wade decision, more than thirteen million black babies, or about one-third of today’s black population, have been aborted. Think of it: Today, blacks number about one-eighth of the population, but more than a third of all abortions. There are now places in America where the black babies aborted outnumber those born.

If, on no empirical grounds, the president’s legitimate critics can be called "racists," why, based on the information in evidence, shouldn’t the same accusation be leveled at amnesty and abortion advocates?