Thursday, January 13, 2005
Word games: Steven Vincent, the author of the must-read book on Iraq "In the Red Zone," notices an interesting dichotomy in the media describes people.
Once again, the same media phenomenon: take a "nationalist" gunman, put a mask on him and set him in some Spanish speaking country and he becomes a "paramilitary"--or, as Newsweek has it, a member of a "death-squad." Take the same masked killer, place him in Iraq and he becomes an "insurgent," a "guerrilla," a "Minuteman." Which of the two sets of terms has a better claim on our sympathies?
Now we have a new wrinkle. If ex-Baathists, or Syria, or Iran, or Al Qaeda or Abu Musab al-Zarqawi trains men to target leaders for assassination, they create insurgents. If the United States does the same--we unleash death-squads. The first description evokes assistance to some heroic anti-colonial guerrilla struggle; the second, support for terror in the name of some reactionary regime. [emphasis in original]