On the Road to ‘Newspeak’

“Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” — George Orwell

The White House insists the Taliban isn’t a terrorist organization, but the Treasury Department designates it as such and it’s well known that Taliban engages in acts of terror. It’s a question White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest tried to explain after his deputy spokesman, Eric Schultz claimed the Taliban is an “armed insurgency” while the Islamic State is a “terrorist group.”

“They have a classification that does allow us to pursue financial sanctions against them,” he added. “And that is different than an organization like Al Qaida that has a much broader global aspiration to carry out acts of violence and acts of terror against Americans and American interests all around the globe.”

The issue came up after the White House insisted a prisoner exchange between Jordan and ISIS/ISIL is different from the one it made last year with the Taliban to gain the release of U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

But the White House isn’t the only one on a ‘word-ban’ kick as Al Jazeera English executive Carlos van Meek is prohibiting journalists from using words like “terrorist,” “Islamist,” “extremists,” and “jihad.”

Van Meek suggests reporter use words like “fighters and “militants,” but only in certain conditions.

“For example,” he writes in a memo, “we can use the term (militant) to describe Norwegian mass-killer Andres Behring Breivik or Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.”

Furthermore, The Oxford University Press is warning its writers not to mention “pigs,” “sausages” or “pork-related words,” in children’s books, in an apparent bid to avoid offending Muslims.  The existence of the publisher’s guidelines emerged after a radio discussion on free speech in the wake of the attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris.

And finally, City University of New York’s graduate school is banning the titles “Mr.” and “Ms.” from official written communication.  The decision came as part of an “ongoing effort to ensure a respectful, welcoming and gender-inclusive learning environment … and to accommodate properly the diverse population of current and prospective students.”

Orwell is spinning in his grave and we’re locking the door to ‘Room 101,’ behind us.

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