Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Propaganda Machine tools: Euphemisms

Propaganda requires the skillful use of language to illicit emotional responses. All propagandists know the amount of power that can be summoned up by emotionally charged messages. They understand that they must have a way to dampen and control what could become unfocused or out of control. Propagandists use euphemisms for this control. Euphemisms are word tools that use indirect, misleading, or soft adjectives to describe something. They make easier to think and talk about unpleasant subjects. They help us avoid reality and numb our emotions by adding abstractions to descriptions. Euphemisms are used to channel unpleasant realities into almost harmless non-issues. Because many euphemisms tend to be both wordy and abstract, many people who use them believe that there is an air of intellectualism attached to them. When spread by a willing media, euphemisms can become widely accepted. The Bush administration and the GOP generate euphemisms by the dozens to help shield the American people from the harsh realities of their foreign and domestic policies. Euphemisms like “collateral civilian casualties,” are some the most disgusting examples of using words to remove the life from something and turn it into a non-issue. Most Americans who would hear, “We regret any collateral civilian casualties,” would probably not think about what that statement really means. “Collateral civilian casualties” is of course a nice way to say “killing innocent people.”

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