Friday, April 20, 2012

The Inflated Style as Euphemism

“I think no commander ever is going to come out and say ‘I’m confidant that we can do this.’ I think we say you assess, we believe this is, you know, a reasonable prospect.” — General David Petraeus, Commander of the International Security Assistance Forces in Afghanistan (since promoted to head of the CIA), regarding his mission objectives and his prospects for achieving them.

“The inflated style is itself a kind of euphemism.” George Orwell, Politics and the English Language.

Which leads to thoughts in verse regarding:

“The Inflated Style as Euphemism”

The general has started talking funny
Like, never stating what we can achieve.
Instead, he babbles jargon for the money
Which means he never plans for us to leave.

We’ve been there now so long that few remember
How many times we’ve heard the same old song.
Our plans, those scruffy foreigners dismember
While we proclaim that we’ve done nothing wrong.

The president has donned his bomber jacket
To have his picture taken with the troops:
For conquerors, cheap tools that serve the racket;
For statesmen, simple patriotic dupes.

Our presidents and generals have blundered
And now can only stall for yet more time
While citizens back home whom they have plundered
Refuse to see the nature of the crime.

We went to “war” with tax cuts for the wealthy
And exhortations to consume and spend.
Now broke and begging from the thieving stealthy,
Our leaders promise this will never end.

Our presidents and generals stage dramas
And wave the bloody shirt while spouting gas
To keep us safe from peasants in pajamas
And poppy farmers smoking hash and grass.

We did this once before in Southeast Asia
As names upon a granite wall attest.
The country, though, prefers its euthanasia:
The laying of all memory to rest.

So let us listen raptly to the latest
Inflated euphemism coined to quell
The slightest thought that we might be the greatest
Bullshitters of whom history can tell.

Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright 2010

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