noone gets killed in war
noone has been killed in Afghanistan
has stopped all references to "kill" and "number killed" in
official releases. Instead "casualties" is the word preferred.
An expression which conceals choice and responsibility. Moreover,
the number of casualties is a non-subject in the ongoing war
Enemies are not humans but "soft targets". When bombs
are dropped, they are reported as dropped by aircrafts and not
by humans. If the wrong building is hit, it is the military
equipment which is to blame. It is not humans who are vulnerable,
it is weapons that can be vulnerable and cause unhappy accidents.
Weapons are the actors in a world where moral questions becomes
war is particularly unpleasant, military discourse is full
of euphemisms. In the 1940's, the US changed the name of the
War Department to the Department of Defense. Under the Reagan
Administration, the MX-Missile was renamed "The Peacekeeper."
During war-time, civilian casualties are referred to as "collateral
damage," and the word "liquidation" is used as a synonym
The comedian George Carlin notes that, in the wake of
the first world war, traumatized veterans were said to be suffering
from "shell shock." The short, vivid phrase conveys the
horrors of battle -- one can practically hear the shells exploding
overhead. After the second world war, people began to use the
term "combat fatigue" to characterize the same condition.
The phrase is a bit more pleasant, but it still acknowledges
combat as the source of discomfort. In the wake of the Vietnam
War, people referred to "post-traumatic stress disorder":
a phrase that is completely disconnected from the reality of
Iraqi invasion of Kuwait was reported on in terms of murder,
theft and rape. The American invasion was never discussed
in terms of murder, assault, and arson. Moreover, the US plans
for war are seen as rational calculation. But the Iraqi invasion
is discussed not as a rational move by Saddam, but as the work
of a madman. We see US as rational, moral, and courageous and
Them as criminal and insane. There is a lot of talk of American
deaths as "costs", but Iraqi deaths aren't mentioned.
Metaphors can kill. The discourse over whether we should
go to war in the Gulf was a panorama of metaphor. Secretary
of State Baker saw Saddam as "sitting on our economic lifeline."
Former President Bush saw him as having a "stranglehold" on
our economy. General Schwartzkopf characterized the occupation
of Kuwait as an ongoing "rape". The President said that the
US was in the gulf to "protect freedom, protect our future,
and protect the innocent", and that we must "push Saddam Hussein
back." Saddam is seen as Hitler.
Metaphor and war: The metaphor system used to justify war
in the the Gulf, by George Lakoff, Linguistics Department,
University of California at Berkeley
the ongoing war in Afghanistan the number of casualties
is a non-subject. When the bombing of Afghanistan started on
October 7 2001, an official "counting of the dead"
was deemed unnecessary. Given the lack of official interest,
the counting of the dead fell upon interested individuals and
non-governmental organisations. The link-selection below contains
some discussions on metaphors and counting.
Critic | ~ | George
Lakoff: Metaphor and war: The metaphor system used to justify
war in the the Gulf | ~ | Tony
Veale: Lakoff's writings call for a reification of the status
of metaphor, from that a superficial rhetorical device that
decorates our speech, to the status of a deep, cognitively-realised
agency that organises our thoughts, shapes our judgements, and
structures our language. |
on Defence Alternatives: Operation Enduring Freedom: Why a Higher
Rate of Civilian Bombing Casualties | ~ | Fair
Action Alert: How Many Dead? Major networks arenít counting
| ~ | Guardian:
Counting the Dead; Attempts to hide the number of Afghan civilians
killed by US bombs are an affront to justice |
former featured nothings
DAY - exposes the environmental and ethical consequences of
consumerism. ... (November-02)
OF ANTIMATTER - CERN have announced that they have passed
through nature's looking glass and created atoms made of antimatter,
or anti-atoms ... (September-02)
ARE NON-PERSONS - taking photographs that could "humanise
or personalise" asylum seekers has been banned by former
defense minister Peter Reith's office in Australia ...
- WHAT IS NOT? - a story about an encounter and about trying
to differ between fact and non-fact ... (May-02)
NOT TO BE BORN - the French parliament has passed a bill that
states that "nobody can claim to have been harmed simply
by being born". the extraordinary bill was a response
to a conviction by the French supreme court that is said to
have established the right not to be born ... (April-02)
CHILDREN - who were born out of nothing during the 31 days
of Mars 2002 ... (Mars-02)
I KNOW / SOMETHING I DONíT KNOW - by Graham Gussin
NOTHING OF CYBERSPACE - this virtual reality in which we now
are taking part ... (January-02)
ACTIVE NOTHING OF TERROR AND RESPONS - the World Trade Center
- Afghanistan and on ... (December-01)
AT ROOSEUM, Malmö's Center for Contemporary Art, 3 November
- 16 December, 2001. works by 35 artists exploring notions
of invisibility, imagination and dematerialisation ...
EVERY TENT; THE OTHER!
- consisting of two Irish green, empty tents, one raised outside
Atelier 35 in Bucharest, and one inside the gallery space
HYPER-METAPHOR; UK, RAISING TENTS
- containing, among other things, a motorway, ten tents, a
text discussion and an internet diary ... (September-01)
suggestions is gratefully accepted!