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War on Nouns

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I’ve been watching a great deal more television, reading a great deal more papers and “blogs”, and listening to a lot more interviews these days. And though it’s extremely hard to do this without politicizing what I see, I try to look at it as objectively as I can, from as many sources as I can.

I’m getting downright sick of this “War on Terror”. Not that global terrorism (as opposed to local terrorism?) isn’t an awful, awful thing, but that it has been a problem for years. I don’t think any American president for at least the last thirty or forty years has been exempt from having to deal with some sort of terrorism, whether pertaining directly to our citizens or to citizens of nations with which we have chosen to ally ourselves. I just have trouble lending credibility to the idea that we’re declaring war on “terror”. For some reason, it was shortened from “terrorism” to “terror” … I think I even vaguely remember when we declared a “war on terrorism”. The problem with this is the basic concept ; not only can you not declare war on a noun, but we’re not really fighting terror.

My good friend Webster defines terror as “to frighten”. I don’t think I have ever seen the people of my country as frightened as they are now. We were afraid to open our mail due to Anthrax (which turned out to most likely be an American, not an “international terrorist”, but that’s completely irrelevant), afraid to fly because of the prospect of people smashing planes into buildings, afraid to keep our civil liberties, and afraid to voice our opinions due to the prospect of being tainted as a coward, deserter, or someone who doesn’t love our country. You can’t fight terror by terrorizing the people you’re supposed to be protecting ; simple logic.

I love my country. I really do. I also believe that one of the highest forms of patriotism is being able to question your country and its leaders, to hold them accountable for their actions, whether or not you agree with them by political party lines. It would be nice if that weren’t vilified as unpatriotic, though.

While we’re talking about wars on nouns, how about the war on the English language? Referring back to Webster, torture is defined as ” … inflicting agony … to punish or coerce (sic)”, yet I keep hearing pundits on a lot of mainstream media channels and “blogs” continue to try to make a distinction between torture and coersion, as if the intention behind an act alters the definition of the act itself. I’m more than a little upset that atrocities are carried out under the banner of protecting the liberties and freedoms of the people living in this country. Whether I support the *actual* wars that are being fought right now (the ones which don’t have an intangible object as the intended target) or not is irrelevant. I believe that we should be attempting to comport ourselves in a manner which appropriately reflects the greatness and respect of our country if we want others to respect it in the same way, in much the way that tourists represent the country from which they hail.

Please, stop trying to split hairs and redefine words. Don’t hide behind these words, but instead use your actions to convey something far greater: that you are a member of the greatest nation on earth, and that you respect everyone else’s right to have the same liberties that you brag about. What good is bringing freedom to the world if you can’t maintain your basic constitutional rights here?

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