Thursday, May 13, 2010

A War of Words

Our English language is peppered with a myriad of words that can be used in more than one way, or perverted to mean something other than their true meaning.
I got to thinking about this after incessant news shows over the past decade mentioned the "War in Iraq". A quick look at a dictionary shows that the word "war" means "an open armed conflict, as between nations". I wonder why this is called a war at all? There was no formal declaration of war, no hostilities leading up to a war, just rumors of chemical weapons (which didn't exist). Could this just be a misuse of the word? Since there were no threats, nor previous hostilities, shouldn't we call this an invasion? After all, that's what it was. We Americans and allies invaded the sovereign state of Iraq without provocation. Shortly thereafter, we were treated to images from "embedded" news crews and reporters showing how the so called "war" was going. It's sad that no one told the Iraqis, because they didn't seem to know we were at war. We devastated the infrastructure if this sovereign land, and killed tens of thousands of it's citizens with air strikes. Soon after we saw the "Mission Accomplished Photo Op" for the president. It's good to be at war apparently.
For the next decade, and possibly into the far future, we will remain at "war". Not with the Iraqi government, but with the citizens themselves.

And here comes the next bastardization of a now common word: "Insurgents". We hear about attacks on our troops by insurgents, and yet we've played the role more than once as a nation.
When Northern troops invaded the South during the War of Northern Aggression, or as some call it, the Civil War, and our Rebel troops fought back, shouldn't we have been called insurgents? We had our own government after succession, our own constitution, leaders, and army. We were invaded by the North, and defended our new nation. We were called "the enemy". Now let me get this straight here, who invaded who?
And we're the enemy? Don't think so!

We've also seen insurgency in the West in the 1800's. Native Americans who didn't succumb to the invasion of the White Man, were either slaughtered, or taken off their tribal land and put into reservations. Centuries of history, and native culture were stripped from them in order to stop this insurgency. Once again, whose land was it?

Let's go back even further, to the Revolutionary War, where we fought off the British troops in order to form our nation. Weren't we the insurgents in this instance? No, thanks to the flexibility of the English language, we were "Freedom Fighters", defenders of our ideals. So I have to ask, shouldn't that very same phrase apply to our Native Americans, our Southern ancestors, and yes, even the people of Iraq?