August 27, 2004
Dissecting "War on Terror"
An excellent intervew with linguist George Lakoff. Definitely worth the read. For instance:
You've said that progressives should never use the phrase "war on terror" — why?Lakoff also has a forthcoming new book called Don't Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate, currently available for preorder from the publisher, Chelsea Green (and soon to be available on Amazon and elsewhere).
There are two reasons for that. Let's start with "terror." Terror is a general state, and it's internal to a person. Terror is not the person we're fighting, the "terrorist." The word terror activates your fear, and fear activates the strict father model, which is what conservatives want. The "war on terror" is not about stopping you from being afraid, it's about making you afraid. [Emphasis added]
Next, "war." How many terrorists are there — hundreds? Sure. Thousands? Maybe. Tens of thousands? Probably not. The point is, terrorists are actual people, and relatively small numbers of individuals, considering the size of our country and other countries. It's not a nation-state problem. War is a nation-state problem.