01 July 2010

Orwell's Shadow: Fighting talk: The new propaganda ~ Robert Fisk

Fighting Talk: The New Propaganda
Robert Fisk

The Independent
21 June 2010

Following the latest in semantics on the news? Journalism and the Israeli government are in love again. It's Islamic terror, Turkish terror, Hamas terror, Islamic Jihad terror, Hezbollah terror, activist terror, war on terror, Palestinian terror, Muslim terror, Iranian terror, Syrian terror, anti-Semitic terror...

But I am doing the Israelis an injustice. Their lexicon, and that of the White House – most of the time – and our reporters' lexicon, is the same. Yes, let's be fair to the Israelis. Their lexicon goes like this: Terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror.

How many times did I just use the word "terror"? Twenty. But it might as well be 60, or 100, or 1,000, or a million. We are in love with the word, seduced by it, fixated by it, attacked by it, assaulted by it, raped by it, committed to it. It is love and sadism and death in one double syllable, the prime time-theme song, the opening of every television symphony, the headline of every page, a punctuation mark in our journalism, a semicolon, a comma, our most powerful full stop. "Terror, terror, terror, terror". Each repetition justifies its predecessor.

Most of all, it's about the terror of power and the power of terror. Power and terror have become interchangeable. We journalists have let this happen. Our language has become not just a debased ally, but a full verbal partner in the language of governments and armies and generals and weapons. ... more ...
A reader, Stanley Wolukau-Wanambwa, emailed the other day, calling my attention to this essay - both acute and astute - by Robert Fisk in The Independent. I thought I'd pass along his recommendation. Fisk argues, I think persuasively, that the news media - journalists, editors, publishers and producers, networks - are hostage to language and concepts that are peddled for political purposes and that they, the media, are relatively oblivious to the history and purposes of that language and those concepts. If we need always ask 'who is using this photograph and for what purpose,' the same is true too of words. Thanks Stanley!

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1 Comments:

Blogger stanley said...

You're more than welcome Jim - interesting elaboration in the two posts.

07 July, 2010 13:45  

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