The insidious propaganda packed into slogans

Unexamined Cargo
By Paul McGoverne

“Stay the course,” “Change,” “One Man’s Terrorist is another Man’s Freedom Fighter,” “Winning the Future,”“Mercy Killing.” Slogans and clichés can sound so innocent, so innocuous, and even honourable; but what do they really mean?

Victor Klepperer, a Christian Jew and professor, experienced the diabolical propaganda of Nazi Germany first hand and prophetically warned of the dangers of language that thinks and writes for you. That is the power of an effective cliché; it is readily absorbed by unthinking people or simply people being too lazy or dare I say too busy to think for themselves.

“A Good Clean War.” Yes! Those Nazis were going to sort out Europe (the world next) and clean things up in a very cheerful way. Ask the Jews or the Poles. What was the blood count? 50 million? How many resultant widows and impoverished families?

Americans tired of Bush’s “Stay the course,” read, continuing the war in Iraq, swung over to the charismatic Obama who came to power on the cry of “Change.” Who though, really examined what this tsunamic ideological, economic and societal change really entailed? It certainly was not the mainstream media. Now, it’s all about “Winning the Future,” a statist policy that reads along the vein that free enterprise and capitalism has failed; the messianic state must now step in and pick both the new industries and new products that will create the jobs for the twenty first century! Well! Never mind the historical fact that socialism has never delivered on wealth creation, only welfare with a procrustean hammer at the expense of liberty. Welcome to the “Brave New World” of the socialist state(s) of the US, Obama style.

“One Man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.” This is a loaded one, dripping with moral relativism. Can anyone really compare George Washington with a Lenin or Stalin or a Yasser Arafat? But then we are called upon to suspend moral judgement aren’t we? After all who are we to judge? One fundamental question though, remains, despite the burgeoning prevalence of postmodernism –the denial of objective truth- and that is this; is it right or wrong? That little used organ, reason, and spiritual aspect of our makeup, the conscience, need to cast off the intellectual slumber of postmodernism and start asking ourselves, “is this right or is this wrong”?

Or is it too late? Has right and wrong become a casualty too? President Abraham Lincoln, a trained lawyer and perspicacious thinker, when faced with grave political and moral questions that required an answer, not ambivalence, would always ask himself, “Is it right or is it wrong.”

Perhaps we had better not judge? Can we afford not to judge? Can we safely ignore the hundreds of thousands of people killed, the countless hundreds of thousands of Muslims radicalised in their misery in the ensuring ethnic and sectarian violence of Bush’s “Spreading Democracy” aka Power Vacuum has spawned, in his failed Middle East policy? And, greatly exacerbated by Obama’s ongoing ineptitude and betrayal, by both men, of the values and pillars our democratic Western societies were built on: freedom of conscience and religion; freedom of speech; Women’s rights; the rule of law, Mr. President and the right to life.

Ironic isn’t it. In the name of Democracy, the American government has naively or otherwise helped frame constitutions based on Sharia law, the very antithesis to Democracy that have left ancient communities and minorities pulverised, persecuted, and prey to the biggest bully on the block, Shiite or Sunni, you choose. Imagine walking in sheer fear every day and night, not knowing whether or not your husband or wife might be “picked up” tortured and butchered or whether your child would not be coming home from school one day! Ever! Are we, too, becoming like Nazi Germany, guilty of supporting “A Good Clean War” and becoming inured to the consequences?

“Get on the Right side of History.” Which side is that? As Nordlinger aptly said, “History does not have sides, although Historians do.” Politicians too have “red lines” but it seems they are often afflicted with being misquoted. Too bad their affliction wasn’t something a little heavier; a punishment more judicially commensurate with their policies.

“War on terror” increasingly appears to be “War of terror”, with draconian and unprecedented legislative and executive powers accrued by Western democracies in modern times, all in the name of freedom. Yes, you guessed it, “War is Peace” and “Slavery is Freedom.”

One last slogan, “Mercy killing”. It sounds almost ennobling and righteous, doing the right thing, that sort of thing, like putting something out of its misery, a dog or cat for example. Recently, it has taken on very dark and fearful undertones. Belgium has now taken it to new depths. One might say right to the bottom of the abyss. It has now expanded assisted suicides and euthanasia to include children with terminal illnesses up to, I understand, the age of eighteen. Imagine the trauma and fear Johnny would indubitable experience when told his little sister of seven –bravely bearing up with multiple sclerosis- was terminated, pardon me, “mercy killed” this morning. Done in more like it.
Of course, Maryan Street, who is planning to reintroduce her bill to decriminalise euthanasia was reported to have said , “Application for children with a terminal illness was a bridge too far in my view at this time.” How terribly gracious of you, Maryan. I hope you don’t ever find yourself aged and in the hands of Johnny who has since become a doctor; now hard, indifferent and calloused by this culture of knocking off the weak and vulnerable and celebration of this Hitlerite Culture of death. Johnny may smile and be professionally sympathetic, but only professionally. Cheerio. Can’t stay fit and young forever! Look on the bright side; you’re saving the State lots of money.

Facetiousness aside, I am mindful of a quote, perhaps it is from Victor Hugo’s novel “Les Miserables” that “the subject must be stated in neutral language that it can not smuggle any unexamined cargo.” More than ever, we need, like the great Abraham Lincoln, with his clinical and honest mind to examine the subject most assiduously, and ask ourselves, “Is it right or wrong?” Who knows, it may be you at the end of the knife, nolens volens.