George Orwell lives and breathes

1984 appeared quaint when it was required reading

The Department of Homeland Security thinks it’s a bad idea to use the word “liberty” when describing America’s foreign policy goals. Nor does it much like the terms “Islamist” and “jihadist.” Heaven forbid the federal government cause needless offense in the current war against, well, whoever.

Such are the recommendations on “Terminology to Define Terrorists,” a nine-page, “Official Use Only” memo issued in January by Homeland Security’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. It purports to represent the suggestions of a “wide variety” of unnamed American Muslim leaders consulted on the subject. And while it is not a statement of official policy, it neatly captures the sophisticated government thinking about its rhetorical strategies for what used to be called the “Global War on Terror.”

Now, thanks to the DHS brain trust, we are offered a “Global Struggle for Security and Progress.”

The Wall Street Journal ‘s Bret Stephens has written, Homeland Security Newspeak, which we highly recommend.

“Newspeak” is from the Orwell classic that was once required reading in every high school. Wonder if that’s still the case?


2 Responses to George Orwell lives and breathes

  1. Celia says:

    I have a sneaking suspicion that the average 20 year old has never heard of either Orwell or 1984. How can you fight what you don’t see coming?

  2. RA says:

    Amen, Celia. The sad thing is, almost 20 years after the “fall of Communism,” and 24 years after the year of the title, Orwell’s 1984 is more pertinent than ever – but the mechanisms that are bringing it about aren’t necessarily the ones he warned against.

    On the issue with the terms “Islamist” or “jihadist” – as I understood it, the DHS arguments here have to do with use of these names unconsciously legitimizing the actions of terrorists, by using names that the terrorists themselves would essentially approve of (imagine an Al-Qaeda recruiter saying to some impressionable 15-year old, “See, even the Western media calls us ‘holy warriors’ “). I deplore “Newspeak” but it strikes me that “Islamo-fascist” is more pejorative and less legitimizing.