Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
August 23, 1999
Learn the lingo to become a jingo
Specialization has been the bane of the present age. To make your way in this world, to understand a politician, or to simply fill out a government form, you have to be fluent in bureaucratese, diplomatic patois, doublespeak or "newspeak" as Orwell would call it.
As each discipline and profession subdivides into smaller fields of specific knowledge, the specialists develop a lingo or jargon that sets them apart from the ordinary mortals. Words take on meanings that need to be explained all over again.
The lexicon associated with war is a particularly rich source of mystifying terms. "Jingoism" refers to boisterous rhetoric in favour of combat. The word is derived from a quaint British expression "by the living jingo," something like "by Jove," which means "God is on our side."
Over the last few years we've all had the opportunity to familiarize ourselves with the language through the nightly newscasts.
"Smart bombs" are projectiles that can tell the difference between a friend and an enemy in much the same way that "military intelligence" can identify a Chinese embassy. "Friendly fire" on the other hand can't make that distinction.
"Collateral damage" occurs when inexplicably a smart bomb can't tell the difference between a bridge and a schoolbus. "Clean bombs" are harmful to people but are supposed to leave the infrastructure intact.
"Low intensity warfare" gets pretty intense for the folks who are on the receiving end of it.
The difference between "war" and "armed conflict" is that wars need the approval of Congress, but armed conflicts can be initiated by presidential decree. The end result is usually the same - a lot of collateral damage.
"Peripheral" used to mean "surrounding" as in "peripheral damage." Now it means limited or marginal and nothing to worry about. People who have been marginalized live on the periphery, far from the centre of power, and therefore can be dismissed as redundant.
A "power vacuum" used to be a place where the Marines had not landed, now it means the Seventh Fleet has not arrived yet.
Redundant means you are surplus and your value has suddenly dropped. People of little value are called poor as in poor quality. "The Third World" is a place where a lot of the poor live, or at least try to survive. "The Fourth World" is where the poorest of the poor live, often in the midst of plenty, like the homeless in Washington.
"Developmentalists" are usually white urban middle class people from the First World who make recommendations for rural folk in the Second, Third and Fourth worlds, which will help them become just like us.
The definition of "development" has been hotly debated by politicians, business people and international aid agencies. It has been variously equated with "peace" as well as "materialistic progress."
Because of the negative connotation in the Third World of "Eurocentric" missionaries who assisted the colonizers in centuries past, the name was updated. The people who assist today's "neo-colonialists" are called "visionaries." They advocate "sustainable development," which means trying to eat your cake and have it as well.
Some visionaries work for "non-government organizations" (NGOs), others work in the "private sector," both depend heavily on government grants and contracts.
The government needs these "partners" to create "leverage" (a force that is called "taking unfair advantage" if it is used against us) to "project Canadian values," a euphemism for promoting rampant consumption in an "increasingly interdependent world."
You can see how important it is to learn the lingo.
Copyright © 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 -- Western Catholic Reporter
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