Monday, October 06, 2008

Loaded Words

The loaded word today is "terrorist." It's a hard to define thing. A person is a terrorist if they try to create fear in a population through violence and intimidation with the goal of promoting their own ideology. We're all aware that the people who attacked us on September 11, 2001 were terrorists.

But apparently words evolve.

Yesterday, Sarah Palin picked up a newspaper (one out of the infinite number that she reads), and declared that Barack Obama pals around with terrorists:
"Well, I was reading my copy of today's New York Times and I was really interested to read about Barack's friends from Chicago," Palin told the crowd. "Turns out, one of his earliest supporters is a man who, according to The New York Times was a domestic terrorist and part of a group that, quote, 'launched a campaign of bombings that would target the Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol.' These are the same guys who think patriotism is paying higher taxes. This is not a man who sees America as you and I do -- as the greatest force for good in the world. This is someone who sees America as imperfect enough to pal around with terrorists who targeted their own country. This, ladies and gentlemen, has nothing to do with the kind of change anyone can believe in -- not my kids and not your kids."
Yes, this is clearly a desperate move from McCain's trash-talk express -- a desperate move and a lie:
One might note at the outset that Obama has had dealings with just one domestic terrorist—former Weather Underground member Bill Ayers—and that "palling around" is hardly a good description of this passing acquaintanceship. Obama and Ayers were both politically active members of Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood, and both were affiliated with the neighborhood's University of Chicago. But the very New York Times article that Palin cited as a source concluded that "the two men do not appear to have been close."
So now, according to Sarah Palin, the new definition of "terrorist" includes those who cross paths with a rehabilitated 60's radical.

I've been reluctant to come right out and say this in the past few weeks, but is Sarah Palin stupid? She wants us to draw fearful conclusions from these crossed paths, yet ignore the straight line between her, her husband, and The Alaskan Independence Party -- a party formed with the goal of seceding from the union and establishing Alaska as an independent state?

Furthermore, how can I trust a McCain-Palin administration to protect me from terrorists when they now stick the label on their political enemies and anybody different than "us"? The trash-talk express is headed down a dangerous road.

Because "terrorist" isn't the only loaded language in Palin's remark. She says "This is not a man who sees America as you and I do." I have no doubt that the "not like you and I" part was carefully crafted racism.

This video shows the real impact of McCain and Palin's fear strategy:

Shouts of "terrorist" now replace any intelligent conversation about the economy, energy policy, or our future. I hope that on November 4, McCain and Palin's loaded words backfire.

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