Politics and the English Language
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Muslim groups criticized President Bush on Thursday for calling a foiled plot to blow up airplanes part of a "war with Islamic fascists," saying the term could inflame anti-Muslim tensions.Sixty years ago, George Orwell wrote in his famed essay, "Politics and the English Language":
The word Fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies "something not desirable." The words democracy, socialism, freedom, patriotic, realistic, justice have each of them several different meanings which cannot be reconciled with one another. In the case of a word like democracy, not only is there no agreed definition, but the attempt to make one is resisted from all sides. It is almost universally felt that when we call a country democratic we are praising it: consequently the defenders of every kind of regime claim that it is a democracy, and fear that they might have to stop using that word if it were tied down to any one meaning. 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 Marshal Pétain was a true patriot, The Soviet press is the freest in the world, The Catholic Church is opposed to persecution, 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.Incidentally, I recommend all incoming 1Ls, and anyone else who has an interest in improving his or her writing, to read the essay.
Labels: Grammar Snarks