By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
6. France. Don’t believe the anti-Semitism-tolerating surrender-monkey hype. The number of hate crimes in France actually decreased last year, and the French Foreign Legion is still seeking U.S. recruits with shady pasts, no questions asked.
7. Thailand. You’ll need to make frequent visa runs, and to safely buy property you’ll have to form a limited-liability corporation or marry a Thai. Still, polls indicate the Land of Smiles has the second highest number of holidays on the planet and the highest rate of sexual satisfaction. And that’s just among locals.
8. Palau. Under a Compact of Free Association, this South Pacific scuba mecca has no political parties or leaders, and welcomes our country’s nuclear subs and pacifist citizens equally. Read writer Stephen Elliott’s digital postcards from self-imposed exile: www.stephenelliott.com.
Current doublespeak and the 100th anniversary of empathy
By Greg Burk
We twist words, then they twist us. For example, 2004 marked the 100th anniversary of empathy, a word that, like many others, has spun into a meaning not originally intended — a nearly opposite meaning, in fact.
The coiner was even an opposite: a woman, Violet Paget, writing under a man’s name (Vernon Lee). Paget was thinking about whether, when we perceive an object, the object itself is the significant factor, or if our own way of seeing it dominates the process. Among other philosophers in the late 19th century, Immanuel Kant figured that we ourselves bring ugliness or beauty to a thing by projecting our own frameworks. Paget expressed this by translating the German Einfühlung (one-feeling) as empathy, drawn from the Greek pathos (experience).
So empathy originally connoted solipsism; we show empathy when we invest objects or people with our own experience. Today, though, the American Heritage Dictionary’s first definition is "identification with and understanding of another’s situation, feelings and motives" — it’s the other guy who motivates us.
In numerous instances this year, the Bush administration’s propagandists altered words’ meanings to advance political goals. It’s a skill.
FREEDOMFreedom is what we want, the world wants, the Iraqi people want. Too bad: In order to give people freedom, we have to take away their freedom — by making ourselves at home in their country, say, or by passing the Patriot Act.
DEMOCRACYThe dictionary says democracy is "government by the people" and "majority rule," but such definitions were of little interest to George W. or Jeb during the 2000 presidential election. Since democracy is a positive buzzword, though, it comes in handy when colonizing a strategic and industrial target, even if a democracy already exists there. (Flashback: In the 1980s, W.’s father, then vice president, was instrumental in hiring "freedom fighters" to attempt overthrow of the democratic, though not democratically elected, Nicaraguan government of Daniel Ortega, who was later voted out of office.) Don’t forget, when you stage a "democratic election" with a pre-anointed candidate in an invaded nation, you have to make sure that the friendliest segment of the population will be the only portion allowed to vote.
TYRANTPreviously, of course, Iraq did not have a real democracy; it had a "brutal tyrant." The dictionary defines tyrant as "an absolute ruler who governs without restrictions" — the kind of leader more desirable in some situations, obviously, than in others.
VICTORYIn order to attain freedom and democracy, we had to achieve military victory — "mission accomplished." No doubt victory in the War on Terror is similarly inevitable.
BLITZKRIEGThe Bush media eagles chose the same word to describe the invasion of Iraq that Goebbels chose to describe Germany’s 1939 methodology in Poland. Blitz is a flash, as of lightning; Krieg, or "war," derives from an Old High German word meaning stubbornness.
COALITIONWe couldn’t have done it without our "coalition," including, Bush emphasized repeatedly during the 2004 presidential debates, Poland. The United States has provided over 90 percent of the occupying troops and nearly all the money.
INSURGENTSAn insurgent is "one who revolts against civil authority." Such authority being . . . ?
CORRUPTIONAt the recent Asia-Pacific Economic Forum in Santiago, Chile, Bush said the USA would be ready to help any nation that was willing to resist "corruption." At the time, his party’s majority leader, Tom DeLay, was under threat of prosecution for illegal campaign contributions, and the Republicans had disabled a regulation that would have prevented DeLay from serving if indicted.
EMPATHYIt would appear that in one instance only, that of the word empathy, the current administration has held fast to the original meaning: attributing to others one’s own feelings, rather than understanding others’ situation. If you’re looking to Bushites for more fundamental definitions, though, you’ll still find that war is peace, freedom is slavery, and ignorance is strength.
1. National Guard celebrates Bush election victory by strafing a New Jersey intermediate school.
2. Donald Rumsfeld begins signing Iraq-war condolence letters with an Autopen.
3. Taco Bell TV ads use Cuban revolutionary anthem "Guantanamera."
5. Congressional Republicans change party rule barring indicted members from leadership roles, allowing Tom DeLay to continue as House majority leader while under criminal investigation in Texas.