Named

What we call it:

“A civil war,” said Matt Lauer on the Today show on Nov. 27. NBC brass had discussed it, he told viewers, and had come to the bold and publicity-generating—if not exactly jaw-dropping—conclusion that democracy is maybe not flourishing quite the way we planned.

The other two broadcast networks, equally boldly, have not followed suit.

“It was their decision to make and their process,” said Jon Banner, the executive producer of ABC’s World News. “We constantly discuss editorial matters here—all the time, every day. How that decis ion got made there I have no idea, nor do I want to guess.”

“To be honest with you, I think it’s a political statement, not a news judgment,” said Rome Hartman, the executive producer of the CBS Evening News. “We deal with the events of the day, and we decide the best way to describe those events based on the news of the day, not by—never mind, I’m not gonna go there.” Then he did.

Words are the currency I carry, words are what I live by, words are all I have, but in the face of this and this and this, I’m starting to wonder if the words truly do matter. Do people die any differently if Matt Lauer calls it something else? Are people here more likely to pay attention if it’s a civil war, instead of a regular war, or an insurgency, or any of the other ways it’s been called since the invasion?

We name things to understand them. We name things to sort them out, to find out where they fit in relation to us and to each other. We name things to put them in their place.


In the case of Iraq, I’m not sure “civil war” is enough to make sense of it.


A.

6 thoughts on “Named

  1. Anonymous says:

    .
    it would be extremely unfortunate if it made a difference in people’s minds of how they feel about massive bloodletting and chaos by what we called such a horrid situation. If it did make a difference, it would be indicative of people with insufficient empathy and cognitive capability to understand the ramifications of the situation, which in turn allows people to fantasize the situation as, or be easily manipulated into believing the situation is, something less than the horror it is.
    Hopefully, the ‘what to call it’ nonsense in the media is just that: more distraction from our always unserious US corporate media and “the people” know that whatever you call the bushliar-criminal regime’s FUBAR in Iraq, it is still a complete and total disaster.
    pluege.

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  2. Anonymous says:

    >>I’m starting to wonder if the words truly do matter.
    they matter the way hammers and scalpels matter; they’re tools. we use them to spread truth and ideas because that’s the only way humans can do so; the 31% who still support bush and this batshit insane war use them to trick themselves into thinking it’s all going to be okay because that’s the only way humans can do so.
    i say let them continue to play their little semantic games – it’s just making them look even more foolish.

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  3. Anonymous says:

    “Do people die any differently if Matt Lauer calls it something else? Are people here more likely to pay attention if it’s a civil war, instead of a regular war, or an insurgency, or any of the other ways it’s been called since the invasion?”
    Of course it matters. If it didn’t matter, would the WH screech so loudly in protest? Would ABC and WaPo not follow suit if it wasn’t important?
    If it is a civil war, all the little factions in Iraq will have to pick a side. If it is a civil war, _we_ have to pick a side. If it is a civil war, there will be labels put on certain leaders, giving them power and credibility and negotiating status. If it is a civil war, it can be ended through diplomacy. Calling it a civil war is the first step toward getting us out and ending the killing.
    So of course all the right-wingers hate it.
    — joshowitz

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  4. Anonymous says:

    Unfortunately, I predict that Tony Snow, after a careful analysis of the situation, will henceforth say that the official term (and the only term that comprehensively defines the current situation) is “Rosieland”
    (BTW – reference to the MASH tv series is intentional).

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  5. pansypoo says:

    i rather like the term ‘faith-based melee’. heard on TDS.

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  6. flory says:

    If it is a civil war, all the little factions in Iraq will have to pick a side. If it is a civil war, _we_ have to pick a side. If it is a civil war, there will be labels put on certain leaders, giving them power and credibility and negotiating status. If it is a civil war, it can be ended through diplomacy. Calling it a civil war is the first step toward getting us out and ending the killing.
    I think this is correct. And I also think, despite the WH posturing, that the “realists” are more than happy to see it become a civil war. Because a civil war is for the Iraqis to deal with, and none of our business. And that’ll be the default wingosphere position in another freidman unit. Then they can justify us getting out without any loss of face.

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