July 25, 2005

Doublespeak

"I rather prefer the expression shoot-to-protect rather than shoot-to-kill -- I think that is a more accurate description of what happened." -- John Major in an interview quoted by the Guardian today, describing the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes by the Metropolitan Police. But in this context what is "shoot-to-protect" if not "shoot-to-kill"? Why not just be up-front about it and say "we believe we need to shoot-to-kill innocent people in order to protect society"? The fact that in this case the killing didn't in any sense protect might give some of us pause for thought; maybe a bit of thinking about the meaning of the word "accurate" would be appropriate as well.

And from the same interview: "There seem to be many people who, for reasons that are irrational, dislike the Anglo-Saxon way of life". This is an odd way of characterising a culture and ideology -- tying it to a specific people and (ancient) geographic origin rather than a long history involving a complex mixture of cultures, races, origins, etc. (what about all us Celts? I suppose the Scottish Enlightenment was just historically-irrelevant chopped liver?). I don't think I've heard the term "Anglo-Saxon" now for years except as code from racist groups in this country; John Major definitely isn't part of all that (at least as far as I know -- he seems a pretty haplessly-decent sort of person), but it's still an inflamatory and exclusionary way to put it. Do you have to be Anglo-Saxon to be part of that life?

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