The Culture of Life

Bush's policies and his assault on the language are no longer working

By Roberto Rodriguez
Published on LatinoLA: April 6, 2005

The Culture of Life

It turns out that the Patrick Buchanan of the 1980s was right: We're in the midst of a very divisive U.S. cultural war that, in effect, constitutes a clash of civilizations.

But before rushing out to buy his autobiography or joining other vigilantes on the border, instead read ?Decolonizing Methodologies,? by Maori scholar, Linda Tuhiwai Smith. Here, one comes to see that what was historically done to non-European peoples, neoconservative leaders are now doing to their own citizens. And it includes a frontal assault with, and on, the English language.

The use of different vocabularies to fight this war is not accidental; it's part of the deceptive arsenal used by neoconservatives to bring about U.S. military and economic world dominance - a philosophy best expounded upon in ?The New American Century? and the 2002 Bush Doctrine.

Without question, if we all used the same vocabulary, the neoconservative movement would collapse. That's why the government has to pay columnists, fabricate its own news and invent its own language to win the war of public opinion.

Bush advisor Karl Rove is credited with crafting together a language that unites the Rush Limbaugh, Pat Robertson and the Dick & Lynne Cheney camps. It all comes together in Bush-speak as a purportedly compassionate conservative agenda that simultaneously touts a culture of life, this while promoting permanent worldwide war.

Many conservatives profess to adhere to that life culture - yet are the most ardent proponents of capital punishment. (This may partially change as the nation's Catholic Bishops have recently weighed against it: "We cannot teach killing is wrong by killing," Washington, DC Cardinal Theodore McCarrick said last week.?)

Compassionate conservatives (who actually believe that the CIA fed the president the wrong intelligence) are also the most ardent supporters of the president's unjustified war -- because many see it as a way to bring about Armageddon. The Pope was of course completely against this war.

It must please Rove that this ?culture of life? permits unconscionable death and destruction. Paul Wolfowitz, the architect of the disastrous war in Iraq and head the World Bank, is nowadays being touted, not as a warmonger, but as an ardent supporter of ?democratization.? This, while the president systematically dismantles democracy at home via the USA Patriot Act (its sequel is on its way). Incidentally, virtually every government that has sent troops into Iraq (through U.S.-arm-twisting) has done so against the wishes of its own citizens.

To neocons, the billions spent on spreading this version of ?freedom? have vindicated the president. Never mind the thousands of American and Iraqi casualties.

And so rather than rebuking the illegal war culprits, the neocons simply change the meaning of words and reward each other with new appointments, i.e., Alberto Gonzales, Condoleezza Rice, John Bolton, Karen Hughes and John Negroponte. Under the Reagan administration, mercenaries and death squads operated freely in Honduras and then ambassador Negroponte (the proposed U.S. intelligence chief) knew nothing. As Oliver North put it: ?It was either lies or lives.?

Nowadays, military death squad killings in Afghanistan and Iraq have become ?targeted assassinations.? And the president is completely against torture, as long as he defines its meaning, this while ensuring that U.S troops act with impunity and are exempt from the International War Crimes tribunal.

At home, politics trumps science and delusion is now the national pastime. There is no global warming. Propaganda promotes freedom. Corruption occurs abroad and pollution-friendly rules are now ?clear air? initiatives. Universal health care is satanic, and bankruptcy is now only an option for big business. And his deficit-inducing tax cuts that favor the rich are propelling the economy.

In "Reinventing the Enemy's Language," Gloria Bird writes of how the native world was changed by language: "The 'enemy' was determined to control the language of real life and in that process manipulated how we, as native people, perceived ourselves in relation to the world."

The same thing appears to be happening now, except that the deceptive use of language by the U.S. government is now seemingly more directed at its own citizens than at ?the enemy.? And we are supposed to perceive ourselves not as ?savages,? but as under siege from savages.

Based on the lagging support for the war and the public's rejection of his social security privatization scheme, plus its repulsion of the government's role in the Schiavo case, maybe it's an indicator that his policies and his assault on the language are no longer working.


The writers can be reached at or 608-238-3161

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