What’s In A Name

There is in our society a long tradition of calling certain things by names other than what they are, deliberately offsetting their true function and nature. It’s a form of perception control utilized by the government to keep awareness and protest muted. A good example is calling our many wars around the world names like “Peacekeeping Missions”, that being easier to sell than yet another war. “Operation Enduring Freedom” in Afghanistan has yet to produce freedom but the war itself has endured many painful and costly years with no end in sight. Historically a little verbal sugar has helped make our unending global military actions easier to swallow. Not too long ago, “Freedom Fries” was one of those gems used to shame France for not wanting to join us in Iraq. During World War 1 we renamed sauerkraut “liberty cabbage” and frankfurters became “hot dogs”. These defiant lexical gestures no doubt sent shudders through our adversaries.

I have always been discomfited by the use of euphemisms to avoid truth. One galling current example is “School Resource Officer”, a.k.a. armed uniformed police officers stationed in a public school to monitor students. According to my dictionary “resource” means:… a source or supply from which benefit is produced.” So, what benefit is produced when cops in schools are referred to as “resources”? Warm fuzzies perhaps?

One morbid possibility that comes to mind is this being an effective way to desensitize kids to the idea of being monitored, watched, and surveilled in the course of their daily lives. Eventually, when these kids grow up they’ll be entirely comfortable knowing they are always being watched and will, no doubt, act accordingly. That may well be the objective. Paranoia over Big Brother always watching will sublimate into bland acceptance and approved behavior.

I’m sure the NSA and other government spy agencies would appreciate our not giving thought to having all of our phone calls and emails recorded and the spending of billions of dollars to store those tidbits out there in Bluffdale, Utah. General Hayden, the NSA chief, would rather Edward Snowden had not alerted us to the fact that we are all under constant surveillance – being watched and listened to for purposes of national security day in and day out – whatever ”security” means in that context and whatever “democracy” means to the General.

Utilizing innocuous euphemisms to mask onerous intent and purpose does not serve us well as a society, it distorts the truth, it is dangerous, it puts people to sleep. Does a little sugar actually help medicine go down?  Consider. Total “security” is the medicine, constant and total surveillance which itself fuels pervasive paranoia about ISIS and other organizations with designs to blow us to smithereens. The illusion that destroying the American social contract and the protections of the Constitution make us “safe” – the sugar.  How sweet is that?

Police officers in place of effective teachers and administrators give schools the ambiance of prison camps. Get used to it kids, this is the brave new world of constant surveillance you are inhabiting. Cameras watch and record you wherever you go. Every phone call you make, cell or otherwise, is known and recorded. Your computer keystrokes can be logged and all the places you visit online noted. The phrase “land of the free and home of the brave” is fast becoming, at best, ironic, itself another  euphemism, for constant surveillance and social control.  And you had better like it – otherwise someone watching somewhere is going to notice!

Where are we going with this not brave but certainly “new”, world?

3 Responses to “What’s In A Name”

  1. 1 Francis Goodwin November 10, 2015 at 9:13 am

    Emanuele, Thanks for the submission. Hope all is well with you. Prepping for winter here. Cheers, Francis


  2. 2 Arthur Alpert November 5, 2015 at 1:53 pm

    Well said, Emanuele, but please do go on to dissect other euphemisms and brand names corrupting the public dialogue. Like “libertarian,” maybe? I’d love to read more on how language is employed these days to disguise the project of destroying what’s left of community and democracy.
    Meanwhile, thanks for this.
    Arthur Alpert

  3. 3 s. bradley November 5, 2015 at 1:29 pm

    “Citizens United” is one of my favorites these days. It should have been “Government united against it’s citizens” but I wasn’t consulted first.

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