Warspeak permeating everyday language puts us all in the trenches

Dec 2016
5,441
2,778
Canada
#1


In a manifesto posted online shortly before he went on to massacre 22 people at an El Paso Walmart, Patrick Crusius cited the “invasion” of Texas by Hispanics. In doing so, he echoed President Trump’s rhetoric of an illegal immigrant “invasion.”

Think about what this word choice communicates: It signals an enemy that must be beaten back, repelled and vanquished.

Yet this sort of language – what I call “warspeak” – has relentlessly crept into most aspects of American life and public discourse.

The political battlefield
For decades, America has been fighting metaphorical wars – wars on heart disease, drugs, smoking, cancer, poverty, advertising and illiteracy.

Then there are the culture wars, which have intensified recently to include wars on Christmas, abortion, bathrooms, cops and women. These are different: They involve people on two sides of a polarizing issue.

War targets an enemy – someone or something to be defeated, using whatever means necessary. It’s one thing when you’re at war with a disease. It’s quite another when you’re at war with a group of people on the other side of a political issue.

The political arena seems to have become especially fertile ground for warspeak.

Otherwise boring legislative machinations have been energized with the drama of a life or death struggle. The Republican-controlled Senate uses a “nuclear option” to confirm judges by a simple majority of 51 votes rather than the older standard of 60 votes. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s ability to speed along the appointment of conservative judges constitutes the latest volley in a “judicial arms race.”

Elections deploy the language of military campaigns. Republican donors and lawmakers warned Trump of a potential bloodbath before the 2018 midterm elections. Meanwhile, Democrats running for president strategize in their campaign “war rooms” for ways to build up “war chests” that will leave them with enough funds to compete in the “battleground states.”

The political media reinforces it all. In its coverage of the July primary debates, The New York Times wrote that the moderates were “throwing firebombs” at the progressives. Cory Booker, the “happy warrior,” sparred with former Vice President Joe Biden who “took incoming fire” all night, but “shot back” and survived, even as moderator Don Lemon “threw a generational warfare bomb.”

Why warspeak matters
Semantic wars, like all wars, are costly. But the role of warspeak in today’s society isn’t as easily quantified as a military budget or body count.

Nonetheless, I believe warspeak matters for three reasons.

First, it degrades our ability to engage with one another about important issues. Law professors Oren Gross and Fionnuala Aolain have written about how the framing of issues as a “war” can “significantly shape choices.” There is an urgency that’s communicated. Instantaneous action is required. Thought and reflection fall by the wayside.

Second, in the context of politics, warspeak seems to be connected to violent political attitudes. In 2011, researchers at the University of Michigan found that young adults exposed to political rhetoric charged with warspeak were more likely to endorse political violence.

Finally, if everything from weather to sports is laden with violent imagery, perceptions and emotions become needlessly distorted. Political carnage and carnage in the classroom, weaponized songs and weapons of war, snipers on the hockey rink and mass shooters – all blur together across our cognitive maps.

There’s a reason why writers, talking heads and politicians deploy warspeak: It commands people’s attention in an increasingly frenzied and fractured media environment.

I wonder, however, if it contributes to political polarization – what Pew Research describes as the “defining feature of American politics today.” And I wonder if it’s one reason why, according to Gallup, Americans’ stress, worry and anger increased in 2018, to the highest point in a dozen years.

One thing is clear: Americans no longer need to be enlisted in the Army to suffer from battle fatigue or be shell-shocked by news of the latest mass shooting.
https://theconversation.com/the-warspeak-permeating-everyday-language-puts-us-all-in-the-trenches-121356
 
Dec 2016
5,441
2,778
Canada
#3
Media is hyper-hyping everything for $. Trying to out-sensationalize competitors. Nothing ever rises or falls, it 'skyrockets' or 'plummets'.
This isn't just about sensationalism and hype though. The author of that essay....which I only quoted part - Robert Myers, is an anthropologist who studies culture and language more closely than most of us do. And, it seems he sees clear connections between violent and dehumanizing language being widely in use, and real violence breaking out when other conditions are in place.

Like he says near the end of the essay, Americans don't have to go off to war to suffer some advanced symptoms of ptsd. They just need to watch the news!
 
Likes: Hollywood
Aug 2019
81
27
Warwickshire UK
#4
If you have a country where competition, exceptionality and superiority is the ingrained norm, you’re going to spend your lives fighting. Whether that’s externally, or against each other internally. The media is just the mouthpiece to keep that mind-set going and why the targets are constantly changing. If it’s not China, it’s Russia, or Iran. Stop the Trump Nazis, kill the Democrat traitors, if you’re not successful you’re a loser … The old militias became the National Guard, politicians became Messiah’s and attracted private militias of Antifa or the Proud Boys … The whole thing descended back into a warlike tribalism.

As much as I laugh at Bernie the pretend socialist he did make a valid point when he said that if America stopped military spending for even one year it would start to make a profit. Yet that could never happen, as it would take away the fundamental principles of individualism, competition and survival. The mass shootings, the attacks on other countries, whether military or economic, is now part of the culture.
 
Likes: imaginethat
Aug 2018
258
119
been around
#5
I think also media hype is so constantly out there it desensitizes people to extremes.

And, it seems he sees clear connections between violent and dehumanizing language being widely in use, and real violence breaking out when other conditions are in place.
I hope this isn't a push for more limits on free speech.
The 'other conditions in place' have been put on us by people who want to fundamentally change Western society for their own benefit. They're trying to break the values we have. So attacks on family, police, white people, Christianity, hype of race division, etc. are part of the push to divide us all and destabilize us. It's the globalists.
 
Nov 2012
2,821
1,722
Rhondda
#6
I think also media hype is so constantly out there it desensitizes people to extremes.



I hope this isn't a push for more limits on free speech.
The 'other conditions in place' have been put on us by people who want to fundamentally change Western society for their own benefit. They're trying to break the values we have. So attacks on family, police, white people, Christianity, hype of race division, etc. are part of the push to divide us all and destabilize us. It's the globalists.
This cock is a typical example of the problem we've got - Nazis claiming, for some reason, that they represent 'traditional values' they know nothing whatever about. Generally, there's a huge weakening of memory - people in the UK reckoning everything was wonderful before the EU or pretending to be back in a War they've experienced only in bad films and so on, and a HUGE weakening of responsibility as capitalist propaganda grows more and more irresponsible.
 
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Oct 2010
67,701
27,586
Colorado
#7
I think also media hype is so constantly out there it desensitizes people to extremes.



I hope this isn't a push for more limits on free speech.
The 'other conditions in place' have been put on us by people who want to fundamentally change Western society for their own benefit. They're trying to break the values we have. So attacks on family, police, white people, Christianity, hype of race division, etc. are part of the push to divide us all and destabilize us. It's the globalists.
You left out our intelligence agencies, and the press, dubbed "the enemy of the people."

The primary divisive force and figure is Trump, but some criticize the press for simply reporting what he does.

He stokes the flames daily. Who can argue with this???
 
Likes: Hollywood
Dec 2016
5,441
2,778
Canada
#9
I think also media hype is so constantly out there it desensitizes people to extremes.



I hope this isn't a push for more limits on free speech.
The 'other conditions in place' have been put on us by people who want to fundamentally change Western society for their own benefit. They're trying to break the values we have. So attacks on family, police, white people, Christianity, hype of race division, etc. are part of the push to divide us all and destabilize us. It's the globalists.
Me too! What I will be most concerned about is news of a bipartisan consensus on how to solve problems of murder, terrorism and violence. Because they will use it as another 9-11 moment to bloat budgets, create new government departments (Homeland Security), and further attack civil liberties.
 
Likes: BondJmsBond