Judie Rae: Polarizing rhetoric fans the flames of hatred | TheUnion.com

Judie Rae: Polarizing rhetoric fans the flames of hatred

Someone in the Trump Administration is working overtime thinking up euphemisms and oxymorons to feed to the public.

It’s nothing new, of course. Years ago, Donald Rumsfeld coined the term “humanitarian bombing.” When we went into Iraq to make the world safe for plutocracy, the euphemism for bombing the heck out of the place was “deliver the ordnance.” That seemingly innocuous phrase sounds almost friendly, if only one were ordering pizza instead of annihilation.

Today we have the “Election Integrity Commission,” which is demanding that every state provide detailed information on every registered voter: voter’s name, address, birthday, information about military service, party affiliation. Ostensibly, this information provided to the federal government will diminish voter fraud. That it can also be used to intimidate and frighten voters is something worth contemplating. Whose integrity, exactly, should be in question here?

Recall when MOAB referred to mountainous land in Jordan, or at very least the town in Utah where mountain bikers like to congregate? Now it’s “Mother of All Bombs,” or “Massive Ordnance Air Burst.” Air Burst? These are bombs we’re talking about, not chewing gum bubbles.

Ernest Hemingway defined a writer as someone with a built-in crap detector. All of us these days would be wise to have such a detection device handy. One of the difficulties, of course, is that too many Americans would prefer to be snug at home playing with their iPhones or watching television. Perhaps the world is too much with us, so many seek refuge in inanity.

Still, it’s important we are able to distinguish between fact and doublespeak. There’s something more than vaguely disquieting about the dissemination of misinformation today. How to discover the facts is a task made increasingly difficult when access to substantive news coverage is mixed with talking heads who spout canned phrases devoid of meaning, devoid of fact.

George Orwell, author of 1984, claimed that “political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible … Political language,” he said, “… is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”

Hot air is not solid. Like the Sharqi winds that sweep across parts of the Middle East, the danger of polarizing rhetoric devoid of substance is that it fans the flames of hatred, creating a scorched earth from which none of us recover.

Judie Rae lives in Grass Valley.

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