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In his prescient book “1984″ George Orwell predicted the rise to
power of a “big brother” communicator. In fulfillment of that prophecy,
President Clinton and his “new” Democrats have won sufficient bipartisan
support to replace English with “Newspeak” as our government’s official
language.

During World War II, the adulteration of words was the hallmark of
Hitler’s propaganda ministry. In contrast, Churchill’s undistorted
vocabulary gave our language its “finest hours.” Later, Churchill aimed
his verbal straight-arrows at the Kremlin.

After 1945, a strain of the Newspeak virus reached our shores. The
term “Cold War” was coined to describe our covert CIA-sponsored attacks
on foreign dictatorship. When we learned of the attacks the use of the
word “war” by government spokesmen was curtailed. And now, with the
bombings of Yugoslavia, there seems to be no cure to the Orwellian
virus.

On March 24, 1999, the first day of the bombings, Bob Schulz of radio
station WROW 590 AM in Albany, New York, asked former U.S. Ambassador to
the Vatican, Thomas Melady: “Does it mean we are at war?” The reply was:
“It’s not a war, it’s a police action.”

More recently, MSNBC’s military consultant (retired Marine Corps
General Trainor) added a new Pentagon spin: “It’s not war. It’s a
bombing to force diplomatic negotiations.”

Presumably, those whose vocabularies include Clintonisms don’t know
what “is” and “war” are — or that oral sex is “sex.” Yet the use of the
English language to veil immorality dates back even to before
Shakespeare.

For centuries two inconsistent maxims have been popular: “Ends don’t
justify means” and “All is fair in love and war.” Our founders rejected
the latter. They enshrined the former in the Constitution; they
reaffirmed Magna Charta. Our “Rule of Law” began when bishops forced
King John at sword point to concede that he was “under God and the law.”

For Bill Clinton today, apparently all of life is “love and war” and
“anything goes.” “Love” includes cigars, adultery, fellatio, phone-sex
and rape. Political “war” includes campaign financing from illegal
foreign sources, and the use of “newspeak” to demonize the Republican
opposition and detract from flirtations with China.

We are now waging an undeclared “war” over Kosovo. We drop bombs in
the name of a “humanitarianism” that defines the killing of innocent
civilians as “collateral damage.” Members of the Kosovo Liberation Army
(recently on our “terrorist” list) are now called “Freedom Fighters.”

Today, the “new” Democrats differ semantically from Churchill.
Clinton’s supporters in the media are giving the “love-and-war” virus
renewed virulence. Perhaps even more dangerous, Clinton is also
spreading the same virus in defense of his “engagement” with Red China.

It is true that Milosevic is a communist dictator whose own people
have nicknamed him “little Lenin.” But it is in China that
Marxist-Leninism poses our greatest danger. In that regard, the Chinese
have a way with words that dates back to the 4th century B.C. Asked what
he would do if put in charge of the then-corrupt government, Confucius
said:

“It would certainly be to correct language. If language is not
correct: what is said is not what is meant; what ought to be done
remains undone; morals deteriorate; justice will go astray; and the
people will stand about in hopeless confusion. Hence there must be no
arbitrariness in what is said. This matters above all else.”

Clinton is no Confucius. He may well have been unduly influenced by
Mark Twain’s tongue-in-cheek advice to politicians and lawyers: “The
truth is precious. Use it sparingly.”

(As an after thought: With Clintonism in fashion, some leading law
schools are apparently offering courses on the semantics of “How to
avoid telling the truth without lying.” It is not surprising that the
American Trial Lawyers Association has been a major financial
contributor to Clinton’s “New” Democrats.)


Jerome Zeifman formerly served as the House Judiciary Committee’s
chief counsel and as a law professor at the University of Santa Clara.
Comments may be sent to jzeifman@yahoo.com

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