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Friday, June 17, 2005

Principles of Republican Etymology, Pt. CCXIX 

In lesson CCXVIII, you will recall, we explained the evolution of the term "Class War." Long, long ago, it referred to the habitual screwing of the poor by the rich, which was not universally understood, at the time, to be a good thing. In the modern Republican era, of course, the habitual screwing of the poor by the rich is considered not just a good thing, but the highest function to which government can aspire, and "Class War" has been redefined to reflect the change in attitudes. It now refers to the distasteful act of pointing out that the rich are screwing the poor, who otherwise would not have noticed, and would therefore have no reason to resent their betters.

Today we see a similar sort of lexical rehabilitation at work in the increasingly frequent use by Republicans and their apologists of the word "treason." To understand "treason" in its modern sense, certain principles must be assumed:

1.) Dishonoring the spirit and the letter of the constitution is not treason;

2.) Undertaking a policy of kidnapping, illegal detention, "extraordinary rendition," and torture, in direct violation of American law and international treaty obligations, is not treason;

3.) Lying to Congress and the public to justify the illegal invasion of a foreign country, in which 1700 Americans and uncounted Iraqi civilians have been killed, thousands more crippled, and hundreds of billions of dollars squandered, is not treason. However,

4.) Mentioning that any of the above has taken place is treason. In fact,

5.) Suspecting that any of the above has taken place is treason.

If any of the above sounds counterintuitive or difficult to grasp, do not be concerned: there is a vast apparatus of right-wing goons working overtime to educate you and your neighbors. Eventually it will all seem perfectly logical. For further details, visit our eminent colleague David Neiwert of Orcinus.

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