...a blog by Richard Flowers

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Day 1988: New New Speak


People have asked: "Why is Lord Blairimort SO into the War on Terra?"

Obviously the answer is because Darth Cheney and the Monkey won't give him the spaceships to take part in the "War on Luna!"

(That joke works better when you say it out loud!)

Kirsty Waaaaark and the Newsnight programme did an update on the "War on Adjective" and how we are doing with that so far. Kirsty had several guests in the studio to discuss this afterwards, a bit like Gary Linnekar's bit in the World Cup programmes except that the waffle was not allowed to overrun into DOCTOR WHO.

Kirsty's guests did not include Alan Hanson OR Ian Wright, but did include left wing apologist commentator David Aaranovitch and a lady professor live via satellite from a picture of the White House.

Mr David said "it is not about won or lost, this war is a process and we have to judge whether we are safer at any stage of the process…"

This is all fairly standard GUFF.

If you want to take the idea of a "War on Terror" seriously (no, I said IF) then it is pretty OBVIOUS where the WINNING line is: we WIN when we are SAFE. Or if you prefer, we are SAFE when we WIN.

It is ALSO pretty obvious that this is actually IMPOSSIBLE.

Okay, well not ACTUALLY impossible, but really much more complicated than is being made out and certainly not DOABLE by force of arms.

The thing about you people is your ASTONISHING ability to harbour RESENTMENTS whether it is who had the last sticky bun or whose bestest friend gave them the Middle East in the first place. If you really want to deal with the main cause of "TERROR" you are going to have to sort out the fact that really most of you people are teed off most of the time about something, especially when, quite frankly, really rather a lot of people in the world have a good reason to be teed off about the West getting ALL the sticky buns and everyone else being stuck with mud pies made of REAL MUD.

Shooting their next door NEIGHBOURS and blowing up their GRANNIES (even when you DO get the BAD GUYS along with them) is only going to INCREASE the resentment. You would be much better off selling them a whole load of televisions and DVDs, you really would.

Anyway, given that getting to the WIN square is looking very unlikely, what with there being all snakes and no ladders on the way, people in FAVOUR of the "War on Adjective" have to change the terms of the debate.

If you can't WIN you can say well at least we're WINNING.

Which is where Mr David's line about "process" and "safer" comes back in. Sure, we haven't got all the BAD GUYS yet, but look you aren't actually DEAD so you must be safer than you were!


The interesting, or possibly TERRIFYING, thing was that after Mr David said this, he was interrupted by the American lady from the picture of the Washington Zoo Ape-a-torium.

If you want to know where she was coming from, she had already started REWRITING HISTORY by telling everyone how Mr Cheney's monkey had been warning about the threat of TERROR back in his first campaign to (not, actually) be elected back in 1999. Funny that, because if he was SO concerned then, how come he ignored the warnings about an attack on America and went on a long holiday in August 2001?

So she interrupted Mr David to say: "no, no, no, it's NOT about safer and less safe AT ALL".

If not being able to win means you change the language to "safer" rather than "safe", just HOW BADLY do you have to be doing to want to change the language AGAIN!

News just in: raise the ALERT LEVEL to BANANAS!


0tralala said...

Hmm... The opposite of "terror" is not safety but confidence. To win this war you have to not be scared.

Now there is an argument that you say something like, "There are some bad people who don't like how we live - eating cheese, watching Dr Who - and they think they can bully us into stopping doing that. But we're not scared of the bullies. The more they bully us, the more we're going to watch 'The Girl in the Fireplace' and eat Edam. And not be all scary ourselves."

That's a bit fluffy, and a more pragmatic approach (with a liberal history) that uses force to combat baddies is, "Peaceably if we can, forcibly if we must."

This is the playground equivalent of "play nicely or you'll get a smack."

There's also an argument, similar to yours about the selling of tellies, that we'd be a lot less frightened of people if they could join in with the watching of 'School Reunion' while scoffing toasted Brie sandwiches. Maybe we're a bit scared of these ruffians because we know we're hogging all the cheese.

That's not in any way to condone nasty things done, or that there aren't some dreadfully scary people out there wanting to do dreadful things to us.

Millennium Dome said...

Well, the thing is I was pointing up the DOUBLE-THINK inherent in what Mr Aaranovitch said by setting a "safer/less safe" winning line – so when you say that SAFE isn't really the OPPOSITE of terror, then I think I AGREE with you!

To get all TERMINOLOGICAL for a second though: it depends whether by "TERROR" you mean "the emotional state of being fearful" or "actions intended to cause fear etc" and it's not entirely our fluffy fault that Darth Cheney's monkey means the latter but uses the word for the former.

I suppose you COULD claim that confidence IS the opposite of the emotion of terror, but safety or security or absence of being-blown-up-ness is the opposite of the action of terror. IF you were trying to make sense of the ASSUMPTIONS inherent in Mr Aaranovitch's position.

The problem with the "play nicely or you'll get a smack" is that it is based on FEAR and THREAT and isn't that the approach that this is the justification that the TERRORISTS use?

They think that we are not "playing nicely" because we invade their special territory / take their resources / do WRONG-THINKING and so we deserve a "smack" to make us think or do different.

What gives US any right to administer that smack? Who decides that WE get to be teacher? And shouldn't the rules of civilisation be a BIT higher up than the PLAYGROUND, anyway?

Even saying "we only smack in self defence" is tricky when we are arguably HARMING lots of places by our taking an unfair share of the world's resources and causing an unfair amount of the world's pollution!

I would rather say, look you can do your own thing if you like, but hey doing it our way means you get this lovely WENSLEYDALE and "The Idiot's Lantern" on the telly!

Daddy Richard is wary of being too SIMPLISTIC.

If we are letting people do their own thing, should we also let them BULLY people in their own country who are weaker than they are? When is it right to go and use force against a bully? Are we right or wrong to stand aside and ALLOW suffering because we always (almost but not quite always) seem to end up making things WORSE when we DO intervene.

But if you want to know the moral difference between blowing up WEDDING PARTIES in order to kill a terrorist leader who may or may not be there and blowing up a bus full of SCHOOL CHILDREN to get a government to withdraw from disputed territory then you need a PHILOSOPHER or a THEOLOGIAN and not a FLUFFY ELEPHANT!

At least selling them tellies does no harm.