Posts Tagged ‘Language’
On Sept. 12, 2001, George W. Bush said something he had avoided saying the day before. “The deliberate and deadly attacks which were carried out yesterday against our country were more than acts of terror,” he told reporters. “They were acts of war.”
The decision to frame the response to 9-11 as a “war” was a fateful one. Before that moment, western democracies would never have sent their soldiers to fight endless battles in distant and obscure deserts.
Imprisonment without charge or trial would never have been advocated by leading politicians. Torture would never have been supported by much of the population. And calls for the assassination of a man who leaked documents would never have been heard from leading journalists. It was George W. Bush’s statement on Sept. 12, 2001, that made all this possible.
“We are at war,” wrote the conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer last week. “A hot war in Afghanistan where six Americans were killed just this past Monday, and a shadowy world war where enemies from Yemen to Portland, Oregon, are planning holy terror. Franklin Roosevelt had German saboteurs tried by military tribunal and executed. (Julian) Assange has done more damage to the United States than all six of those Germans combined.”
The conclusion is obvious. “We are at war.” That statement appears in virtually every call for more spying, more torture, more killing. War is an emergency. An existential struggle. To the extent that the ordinary rules get in the way of victory, they must be suspended — just as Abraham Lincoln suspended habeas corpus during the Civil War. “The constitution is not a suicide pact,” as the saying goes.
Occasionally, this stuff is disingenuous, as when Mitch Daniels, Bush’s budget director, justified the ballooning deficit by saying “it’s a wartime budget” and then turned around and justified tax cuts by claiming “Americans are being taxed at the highest peacetime rates in history.”
By Arundhati Roy Information Clearinghouse
What happens once democracy has been used up? When it has been hollowed out and emptied of meaning? What happens when each of its institutions has metastasised into something dangerous? What happens now that democracy and the Free Market have fused into a single predatory organism with a thin, constricted imagination that revolves almost entirely around the idea of maximising profit?