False Promises Through the Modern Use of English
You must excuse me for being derelict in my English duties for the past couple of weeks. I’ve been busy following our economic turmoil and watching way too much Cramerica (Jim Cramer and his Mad Money CNBC show).
I think I’ve written about George Orwell and his essay on "Politics and the English Language" before, but since we all just went through a nationwide election, it’s time to revisit this bit of Orwellian genius. Take this passage:
A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks. It is rather the same thing that is happening to the English language. It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts.
Now, those of you who voted for Barack Obama will no doubt conclude that John McCain uses slovenly language. Maybe so; Obama is a more polished speaker, barrister and promissory artist that he is. It is rather that I’d like to focus on the "foolish thoughts" observation of Orwell’s.
Was it anything but foolishness to believe that any one person could accomplish everything our president-elect promised.
Free health care? Is anything really free? We’ll all pay with lousier hospitals and long waiting lists. Pull the troops out of Iraq so we can face an enlarged and more empowered Iran? End our dependence on oil without building nuclear plants or allowing offshore drilling? (I love the comment by the presiding party and its leaders: "Drilling won’t solve our problem." I guess it’ll make it worse or do nothing, both of which assertions seem ridiculous and disingenous.)
It is more that people want to believe in the tooth fairy and thus hear what they want to hear.
See, we’re all captive to our "foolish thoughts."