I hate euphemisms. At a very basic level, they are simply deceptions. They are words designed to make us think something is not quite as bad as it is. But no matter the design, those words cannot effect change on the reality that is. After all, does the man who "shuffles off this mortal coil" not die?
No one is better at euphemisms than politicians and the mainstream media. In fact, at times I think they may actually be in direct competition on that score.
For example, we all know that when President Obama uses the word "invest" what he means is that he plans to raise taxes, and they will probably be your taxes. But since it's really an investment into public education or healthcare or what have you, he expects you to be happy about it.
When the media wishes to call someone a liar, instead of taking Rep. Joe Wilson's approach, they skirt the issue. "Well, the facts have been called into question." This tactic leads the public to suspect that the problem is in the facts themselves rather than in the idiot who chose to misrepresent them.
So what brings euphemisms to the forefront today? Yesterday I read about the fact that the White House has classified the attack on Fort Hood by U.S. Army Major Nidal Hassan as "workplace violence." The reason they gave was the fact that they couldn't really call it a terrorist attack because there were "no real ties connecting Hassan to terrorist organizations." Except for the twenty or so emails exchanged between Hassan and Anwar al-Awlaki, an al Qaeda leader who was killed this past year in Yemen.
However, DHS head Janet Napolitano spoke just last week in direct opposition to the White House's claim. She lists Hassan with other so called "lone-wolf" terrorists, people who act alone and with limited or nonexistent ties to known terrorist organizations.
Euphemisms have been traditionally used in order to protect someone or something. We say that "Grandma went to Heaven" to protect a child from the reality of death. We say that the President's "credibility is being questioned" to protect the American public from the reality that not all Presidents are as upright as they would like to believe.
In this case, by calling Nidal Hassan's act of terrorism an act of "workplace violence," WHO IS THE WHITE HOUSE PROTECTING?
I feel safer already, don't you?