I like language. I think it’s interesting how we can communicate what we want just by using the right words in just the right order. Sometimes I feel like I do a pretty good job of communicating, but many not right words sometimes have not been unused badly too much.
From time to time words people use bother me because they are imprecise – sometimes, intentionally.
Speaking accurately about sensitive topics can be seen as politically incorrect, so more palatable and less accurate words are used.
After September 11th, 2001, we started (or joined, already in progress) the “War on Terror.” Right from the start, that struck me as incorrect. Terror is a strategy, like embargoes, guerilla warfare, cyber-attacks, etc.
Whether it is a white supremacist group or a radical Islamic group, terror is the means by which they fight for their cause. Terror isn’t the enemy. The group using terror is the enemy.
Being against radical Islam isn’t the same as being against Islam, any more than being against white supremacists is the same as being against whites. Being at war against terror means nothing, and yet, we are.
Likewise, “illegal” and “undocumented” have very different levels of political correctness when speaking of uninvited guests in our country, but mean the same thing.
Recently the terms “fake news” and “alternate facts” have become popular. But what do they mean?
Fake news can be news that is false, and presented as true for nefarious reasons. However, sometimes that term is assigned to news stories that contain information that is debatable, or just plain wrong, but not intentionally false.
Alternate facts is a term that stems from a White House spokesperson’s comments. It is ludicrous, of course, because a fact is a fact. The capital of Wisconsin is Madison, for example. There is no alternative fact to refute that.
However, if you look at the term differently, it is anything but ludicrous. For example, if I told you that the car I’m selling is a 1999 blue Buick, those are facts. The alternate set of facts might be that it has no gas tank, and hasn’t run since 2001. A better term would have been “additional facts,” but either way, the facts someone chooses to share, or not share, can help them further their agenda.
I guess we all have to pay attention to the things we hear, and process them through the filter of who is saying them, and what they’re trying to achieve. Surely, there are plenty of people of all political stripes ready to mislead us if they can.
And Nigerian princes too.