LANGUAGE POLICE OF THE DAY: DONALD RUMSFELD

By Junge Welt

[This article published in: Junge Welt, 12/01/2005 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web,  http://www.jungewelt.de/2005/12-01/003.php.]


US Defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld has opened up a new front. On this front he fights heroically over the right words. A politically correct term for those people who dispute the occupiers’ right of residence is important to him. He doesn’t want to call them “insurgents.” This word, he said at a press conference in Washington on Tuesday, “gives them more legitimacy than they deserve.” This term is appropriate where a people have a legitimate reason for rebellion and the combatants have support in the population. There is certainly no power in the whole world that accepts a rebellion against it as justified. Representing its adversary as isolated from the population is part of the justification repertoire of every power.

Therefore Rumsfeld only spoke of “terrorists” and “enemies of the government.” The term “terrorists” for activists of the people’s resistance comes from the terminology of the Nazi armed forces. Resistance campaigns could then include shooting civilians. What about the US invaders? To spare the house battle around Iraqi resistance strongholds, they made no distinction between armed fighters and civilians. Saturation- or carpet-bombing occurred. In seeking a correct official version, Mr. Rumsfeld shamelessly made use of Nazi jargon.

At the same press conference, the chief-of-staff of US armed forces, Peter Pace twice did not avoid describing the hostile forces in Iraq as “insurgents.” The first time he admitted no better word occurred to him. The second time he said turning to Rumsfeld: “Excuse me, sir. I am not educable today.” A classic duel was staged between a military man who saw the war adversary as he was and a bureaucrat who tests war terms for their ideological effectiveness. Pace wanted to put down the rebellion and therefore saw it for what it was. Rumsfeld wanted to destroy it on the lingual plane.