Thursday, April 11, 2002


Last night I had the pleasure of sharing some beers and snacks with some coworkers from around the United States, Australia, and Denmark. Our conversation drifted from philosophy and religion to science, politics, and (of course) the Middle East.

During this enjoyable colloquy, while I sipped from my foamy pint of Guinness, the coworker from Denmark made what was for me an infuriating comment. He expressed his belief that the recent Israeli defensive actions in Janin, Ramallah, etc., were fundamentally immoral. Another coworker, who happens to be a very good friend of mine (as well as my boss), immediately jumped in to agree with this assessment, stating that he thought Prime Minister Sharon was �crazy.� Not one word was said about the conduct of the Palestinians, or Yasser Arafat, their terrorist leader.

My blood instantly boiled when I heard these ridiculous statements. Fortunately, I was able to check my anger and thus spared myself from what could have been a career-ending outburst.

Now that I�ve had time to reflect on the events of the evening, I�ve found myself asking the question: �How can intelligent people come to such incoherent, incorrect conclusions about a situation which is easy to evaluate and, yes, judge?� Both of the individuals I've mentioned are highly intelligent, and yet I know that neither one of them would be able to factually support their respective opinions.

I think that a large part of this phenomenon is explained by the abusive use of language. For example, when the major news outlets assaults our ears the simple refrain �violence in the Middle East,� they are in essence equating murders committed by Palestinian terrorists with the justified reprisals delivered by a democratically elected government defending its citizens. Such obfuscation of the truth is intellectual fatuous, and deserving of our condemnation.

Caudia Rosett at has written today about the use of language to obscure the truth. I encourage all of you to read Claudia�s excellent analysis of wartime doubletalk.

There�s only one way we�ll see an end to terrorist assaults on Israeli sovereignty: We must continue to call Palestinian suicide-bombers what they are � terrorists and murderers; and we must not fall prey to the vacuous appeasers in Europe who are, even as I write this, snickering with pleasure at the rapid decline of American prestige. President Bush needs to lead this charge, and he needs the help of all those who believe that they truth will set Israel, and innocent Palestinians, free.

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