In discourse about public affairs, words matter much more than most people appreciate. We live immersed in language so twisted and abused, in part by the design of interested parties and in part by the sloth of inattentive speakers and listeners, that we often fail to notice or object to linguistic miscarriages that pass for intelligent expression. The examples are legion, but here I have in mind a particular turn of phrase that American conservatives, especially neocons, have employed in recent years as a counterstrike against critics of U.S. foreign and defense policy: They describe such critics as “blaming America” or sometimes as “blaming America first” for attacks against this country or its citizens abroad.
Thus, for example, those who fault U.S. Middle East policies for creating the conditions that caused Muslim fanatics to attack Americans, both at home and overseas, are said to be blaming America for what the policy’s defenders’ take to be the unprovoked acts of terrorists bent on imposing Sharia on the United States, destroying this country’s freedoms, or attaining another such farfetched objective.
Read the rest