In its 19 December 2013 issue, “The USA Today”(TM) reported that 2013 marks the ten year anniversary of the Improvised Explosive Device or “IED” (“How the IED Changed the US Military,” by Gregg Zoroya, front page). The article traces the historical trajectory of the IED from 2003 and attempts to demonstrate how this phenomenon has caused an evolution in gear and tactics for the U.S. military.
Likely, one of the most surprised people to learn of the short ten-year lifespan of the IED was the guy who tossed one into the motorcade of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in the area of the former Yugoslavia. His use of an Improvised Explosive Device set off what we now call World War I. Others who never got the memo declaring that all of human history had been compacted into the period from 2003 to the present were equally surprised.
Improvised Explosive Devices were thrown into a crowd of cops in Chicago during the Haymarket Riot. By all accounts, rebel colonists used IEDs during the Boston Tea Party, burning British ships into the sea. And nobody in their right mind would argue that the molotov cocktail, that most-ubiquitous of Improvised Explosive Devices, was first concocted in the twenty-first century.
So what the fuck is The USA Today(TM) talking about?
It appears that this bastion of balanced journalism (that’s sarcasm) has employed an IED of its own. I’m not talking about an Improvised Explosive Device, but an “Inaccurate Euphemistic Deception.” See, language is a tool. And tools can be used as weapons. Here, language is being used as a weapon.
Words create impressions, imprinting and reinforcing world views, indoctrinating. Words have power to alter perceptions. If we aren’t careful, if we aren’t analytical, we could easily be manipulated…not that manipulation is the primary goal of the corporate media. (Yeah, sarcasm again.)
So, what’s really going on here? Why is corporate media claiming IEDs are only ten years old when they’ve actually been around since Homo Habilis rubbed two sticks together? What’s the real agenda?
Good questions. What turned ten years old is not the Improvised Explosive Device, but the phrase, the euphemism, “Improvised Explosive Device.” Homemade bombs have existed forever, but the U.S. government didn’t start calling homemade bombs “Inprovised Explosive Devices” until 2003. So what we’re marking here is not an historical event in reality, but an historical event in terminology. We’re recognizing the dubious anniversary of a euphemism, when we stopped calling something what it is and came up with new words to describe the old thing.
In 2003, homemade bombs stopped being homemade bombs. They started being IEDS. Apparently, after holding some secret focus groups, the US government determined that the prospect of getting killed by something as mundane as a “homemade bomb” ruined morale, so they turned homemade bombs into something spiffy that, when it kills you, it still feels like an honorable death.
SOLDIER: “Was Sergeant Snowbucket killed by a mundane homemade bomb?”
OFFICER: “No. It was an IED.”
SOLDIER: “Wow. Well, at least he was taken down by something technical and sophisticated.”
See? But that’s not all. A change in language is a signal also that what we’re dealing with is a new heinous experience. Inaccurate Euphemistic Deceptions are excellent tools for convincing us that the reality we confront is somehow special and unprecedented. New. Before, people were getting blown up by homemade bombs. But now we’re facing IEDS. It’s so special, it has a new word.
Whole different experience.
This new experience is distinguished by the fact that it’s happening to “us.” And it’s being done by “them.” Never before have “they” killed “us” like this. That’s what’s really conveyed by the use of this Inaccurate Euphemistic Deception.
Who are “they”? And who are “we”? Well, it goes without saying that “they” are brown-skinned Muslims not affiliated with any formal, governmental state; and “we” are the liberators whose generous and selfless efforts are unappreciated…of course. The horse pill, the Inaccurate Euphemistic Deception of “IED,” is completely coated in all of these implications. In this special experience that cannot be simply understood as being resisted with homemade bombs, we have a larger contextual situation: “These dirty, ungrateful, superstitious savages are employing complex technologies in an underhanded effort to unjustifiably kill the good guys who defend mom, apple pie, freedom, democracy, and Jesus.”
Close your eyes and imagine the voice of a newscaster reporting: “…An IED killed seven soldiers in Kabul today…” Okay. Now, what is the image? What do you see?
Right. Exactly. See how Inaccurate Euphemistic Deceptions work?
So, when “The USA Today”(TM) marks the ten year anniversary of IEDs, it’s really marking the ten year anniversary of a literary device used to brainwash you, to limit you to a specific and wildly inaccurate perception of reality. What it is really saying is, “We’ve been mind-fucking you with this lie for ten years now, and it’s so complete there’s no way for anyone to know just how effected we all are.”
So, if not for the IED and all that comes with it, what would our perceptions of reality be? Well, as an exercise, just for shits and giggles, let’s see if we can walk this backwards. We’ll start here:
“Those dirty, ungrateful, superstitious savages are employing complex technologies in an underhanded effort to unjustifiably kill the good guys who defend mom, apple pie, freedom, democracy, and Jesus.”
Okay, that’s a good place to start. Now, let’s slowly, step-by-step, undo the Fox News(TM) and USA Today(TM) distortion and we’ll see if we can get to something resembling the actual reality that the use of Inaccurate Euphemistic Deceptions conceals.
One step to the truth:
“These dirty, ungrateful, superstitious savages use homemade bombs in an underhanded effort to unjustifiably kill the good guys who defend mom, apple pie, freedom, democracy, and Jesus.”
Now let’s remove some of the “feeling” words used to describe “them” and replace those “feeling” words with something more objective:
“People who live here use homemade bombs in an underhanded effort to unjustifiably kill the good guys who defend mom, apple pie, freedom, democracy, and Jesus.”
That’s a little better. Far more accurate than the image projected by the use of the Inaccurate Euphemistic Deception. But its still incomplete. We have to adjust the words used to describe “us” also:
“People who live here use homemade bombs in an underhanded effort to unjustifiably kill poor people from the U.S. who signed up for the military (because they couldn’t afford college) and/or Americans manipulated by the tragedy of 9/11 (to feel patriotic) who do not live here, who defend mom, apple pie, freedom, democracy, and Jesus.”
Okay. That’s a little longer now and not quite as simple. Much more accurate. But now that we have a more accurate view of “them” and “us,” we now have to reassess the character of “their” behavior because the old perception no longer works:
“People who live here use homemade bombs in a desperate and self-determined effort to drive out poor people from the U.S. who signed up for the military (because they couldn’t afford college) and/or Americans manipulated by the tragedy of 9/11 (to feel patriotic), who do not live here, who defend mom, apple pie, freedom, democracy, and Jesus.”
See where this is going? But we’re not there yet. Given all that we’ve already changed, and given the true character of “their” resistance, we’ve still got an untenable characterization of “our” actions. So, one more modification:
“People who live here use homemade bombs in a desperate and self-determined effort to drive out poor people from the U.S. who signed up for the military (because they couldn’t afford college) and/or Americans manipulated by the tragedy of 9/11 (to feel patriotic), who do not live here, and whose violent occupation serves the narrow interests of the wealthy elite at the expense of everyone else.”
Okay. I think we’re done. I think that’s an accurate depiction of our reality, absent the obscuration caused by the use of Inaccurate Euphemistic Deceptions. When we brush away the layers of cosmic debris, this is the reality that was concealed underneath, the realty that Inaccurate Euphemistic Deceptions are designed to conceal.
Now that reality has been de-mystified, let’s also infuse some honesty into “The USA Today”(TM) headline:
“Corporate Media Employed Linguistic Strategies to Deceive Population at Service of Wealthy Elite for a Decade, Using Terms Like “I.E.D.”
Yeah. That’s more like it. See how fun analytical thinking can be? Now, the last ten years of broadcasts of the 6:00 news on ABC, owned by the Disney Corporation…