Tuesday, January 29, 2008

That Banal Trope, Again

"They hate our freedom." Let's take a moment and parse that phrase.

"They." Not us, but them - the other. "Terrorists" and "extremists." Some group outside of history, beyond our geography, alien to our culture, to very the ideas of family, duty, honor. Untouched by the ruthless force of the global economy. A people utterly without context.

"Hate." Inflamed, enraged, irrational passion, without cause or justification. A primitive, savage emotion, unfit for enlightened peoples.

"Our." The embodiment of wholesomeness. Righteousness. Again, a body without history or context. Enthralled by its own sense of goodness and destiny. (And as such, the group is eerily parallel to "them.")

"Freedom." A word so laden with meaning it can hardly be unpacked. Freedom from want? Freedom of movement? Freedom of thought? Self-determination? Freedom of choice? All of it and more. As if it is all possessed in equal measure by "our" side.

Now, I find religious despotism to be singularly distasteful. And violent fundamentalists wield a lot of power in this age. But the phrase "they hate our freedom," invoked too often here in the U.S., lacks insight of any kind. In fact, rather than explaining our enemy, it shrouds him in fear, awe, and mystery. And it elevates our own sense of specialness as a people "chosen" to confront this "enemy."

This is the language not of diplomacy and reason, but of dictatorship and theocracy. Bush's last State of the Union address? Good riddance.


mizverde said...

Amen, brother

GeistX said...

We get the government we deserve to borrow a phrase from one of the fellow nerdpod.

Its phrases like that which make my skin crawl.