Squeezing the Mind – the importance of words

Lots of debate on whether we can use the words, “Islamic terrorism,” “Islamic fundamentalism,” “Global War on Terror (GWOT),” and the really ball-busting one, “Radical Islam.”

Is is about numbers? All eyes were on France. Twelve to 16 killed in France, but that same week, over several days, counts differ from 150 killed to as many as 2,000 people killed by Boko Harum, an Islamic militant group in Nigeria, whose aim is to establish an Islamic state in Nigeria.

Meanwhile, back in the United States, much outcry that President Obama missed the rally in Paris and failed to send a high enough personage to represent us at the rally…. Our Ambassador was there; our top lawyer was there but didn’t attend; Secretary of State Kerry was in India and on his way to Pakistan, I think….

Meantime, in Egypt, President Al-Sisi made two historic speeches/appearances. On January 1, “I say and repeat again that we are in need of a religious revolution.” He stressed that “it’s inconceivable that the thinking that we hold most sacred should cause the entire umma [Muslims worldwide] to be a source of anxiety, danger, killing and destruction for the rest of the world.” His second appearance was on the Coptic Christmas Eve, celebrated on January 6, where he wished all a Merry Christmas and urged Egyptian solidarity. You may see both here.

That was then, and now? The Jordanian pilot caged and set on fire. Twenty-one Egyptian Coptic Christians executed in Libya. Two Danes killed in Copenhagen over the weekend. Today’s BBC report on 45 Iraqis burned alive five miles short of the base 320 U.S. forces are using to train Iraqi soldiers. Who is doing all these killings?

Well, it depends on whom you listened to. Could be terrorist extremists, according to the White House, who are hosting a three day conference on just that topic beginning today. Or it might be an ongoing holy war initiated by Islamic extremists who use extraordinary violence and tactics to achieve their stated aim of a Caliphate State. A week ago, there was a horrible incident where a man shot three people over a dispute about a parking space. Or was it? The three people executed were Muslim and their family claims this is the backlash of naming Islam extremists as part of Islam.

Understand when you curtail the use of certain words or allow only certain groups to use certain words, you have cut the chords of free speech and short-circuited any intelligent discussion. What is propaganda? At its most basic, propaganda is the art of changing people’s behavior to accept or deny your message using emotion, not opposing viewpoints. The best way to do that is to short-circuit the mind and go direct to emotion by presenting images, focusing on fears.

It can be as simple as a commercial for mouthwash (do you have bad breath?) or deodorant (do you have body odor?) or as complex as Twitter, limiting thoughts to 140 words, necessitating shorthand for concepts and thought, or a video showing the killing of children or a Jordanian pilot or 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians. The White House put out a statement, “The United States condemns the despicable and cowardly murder of twenty-one Egyptian citizens in Libya by ISIL-affiliated terrorists.,” with no mention of the salient fact they were Christian. Does that make a difference? I think it does. When the video itself states the reason for the killings “In a message to the “crusaders,” a masked man holding a knife says the group is “chopping off the heads of those that have been carrying the cross illusion.”

The crusades? Geez, how long has it been since the Crusades? The year: 1095. We are in the year 2015, but President Obama reminded us of our culpability in the Crusades on February 5, 2015 at the National Prayer Breakfast and our guilt re slavery and Jim Crow laws. Is this moral equivalency? Really?

Communication is the name of the game and the first to get their message out wins. This idea of winning hearts and minds is real. Just because the enemy believes in a life style dating back to the 8th century doesn’t mean they do not know how to sell their message. And, they put Madison Avenue to shame. The U.S. State Department announced Monday that really it is a matter of providing jobs to disenchanted youths in the Middle East. Marie Harf, in an interview with Chris Matthews, said, “”If we can help countries work at the root causes of this — what makes these 17-year-old kids pick up an AK-47 instead of trying to start a business?” Gosh, Marie, maybe their reasons are what they themselves say they are: to adhere to a version of Islam that wants to establish a world-wide caliphate where all people are subject to Islam.

One of the best interviews I’ve seen on naming the enemy was the former Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lt. General Michael Flynn, Retired,


Part I in a discussion of how propaganda works to divide people and play to their fears.

27 thoughts on “Squeezing the Mind – the importance of words

  1. I THINK I agree with you, Huntie – but I’m getting a bit of a mixed message. Aren’t you in danger of mixing in your own polticial beliefs with what’s going down in Madland ?
    I do not mean for a moment to attempt to demean this post, which is deeply felt (and, I THINK, deeply agreed with); but there is an element of Republicanism here that makes me a bit anxious … Still, I do agree with the retired Lieutenant General – if what he is saying is that we’re all tippy-toeing around in a miasma of political correctness rather than coming right out and identifying exactly what the problem is. Am I near it …?
    (Hope to see you in the salon soon. X !)

    Liked by 1 person

      • It does not, one whit.
        «The White House put out a statement, “The United States condemns the despicable and cowardly murder of twenty-one Egyptian citizens in Libya by ISIL-affiliated terrorists” with no mention of the salient fact they were Christian. Does that make a difference? I think it does, when the video itself states the reason for the killings “In a message to the “crusaders,” a masked man holding a knife says the group is “chopping off the heads of those that have been carrying the cross illusion.”»
        This is sort of what I meant; that you are obviously against the incumbents and their reactions. But now that I think about it more, this same comment could be made by any Democrat; so I’m talking out of my (_|_). Sorry.
        And I saw the footage of Obama saying that no religion kills people – only people kill people. Was tempted to draw his attention to the death penalty, so very much alive and well up there – but that he can’t do anything about that. Come to think of it, maybe his words were very carefully chosen !


    • Well, MB, there are two i’s in each acronym. Maybe, it harkens back to an earlier President:

      “Here’s what Clinton told the grand jury (according to footnote 1,128 in Starr’s report):

      “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is. If the–if he–if ‘is’ means is and never has been, that is not–that is one thing. If it means there is none, that was a completely true statement….Now, if someone had asked me on that day, are you having any kind of sexual relations with Ms. Lewinsky, that is, asked me a question in the present tense, I would have said no. And it would have been completely true.”


      • Huntie, you wandered into the woods, and over the humor cliff on that one. Smile… Anyway— obviously my rather pointed point is this. the “I” is for ISLAM. The Terrorists call THEMSELVES BY THE WORD ISLAM. I respect the amazing depth of knowledge of Andrew McCarthy on the topic of Islamic Supremacy. Muslim refers to religion. Islam refers to much more. Islam is SHARIA. And Sharia is only 20% religion. Sharia is 80% a way of life )law, social, personal). The insanity is in the Sharia of the Islamic Terrorists. It is 100% incompatible with Western values.

        Liked by 2 people

          • Yes. I had the privilege of attending a Hillsdale College Seminar in Seattle in 2013 where Andrew McCarthy (and Bill Gertz, & John O’Sullivan) spoke about Islamic Supremacy. McCarthy said the GOAL of Muslim Brotherhood & CAIR etc etc is to eliminate Western Civilization from within by sabotage and they plan on it taking two generations. They do not want to co-exist. They want a totally different “civilization”. Their view of freedom is the opposite of ours. To them, freedom is perfect slavery and submission to Allah.


  2. Ah Huntie. I love it when you got your game on. One thing one must remember: Chapel Hill is Liberal Valley, NC, white collar hacky-sack players. I know. I grew up in Blue Collar Durham and spent many an afternoon in 8 miles away Chapel Hill being a flower child. Apparently there was bad blood between these families and had been a long going feud about parking space…stupid, but…. if this had happened in durham or Raleigh, it would have been handled as it is. In Chapel Hill, it is a hue and cry and hate crime. Once again, the Christians are the bad guys and the Muslims are the injured parties. Very sad, true. I deplore this type of blood shed. But again, our Prez has to put his nose in it and immediately, like other recent events, it goes from bad to worse. And of course, he isn’t going to mention Coptic Christians being beheaded. Christian isn’t in his vocabulary except as a bad word.


    • I have never been comfortable with this classification of crime as a “hate crime.” We used to have laws that were to be applied equally. Now, certain crimes or motivation gets a different treatment. Much like the funds established for the families who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001. I do not see the difference for a wife or child who lost their Dad during a robbery….


      • I agree. Totally. Some stupid redneck gets ticked because college kids keep parking in his space (and they probably did and had friends over who did) but criminy, don’t shoot them. At the same time, if they had been ordinary white college students, there wouldn’t have been the hue and cry. Come on now….or if one of them had shot him, it wouldn’t have been a hate crime.


  3. The only part I can speak to is fear. Use the emotion of fear to stir up the pot. Far too much bloodshed has flowed and in quick succession. I do not feel safe anymore. I agree with the Lt Gen. Michael Flynn. There is no ‘cohesive plan’.
    When there is a fire, all the firemen work together to put it out. They rush to contain it and help put it out before it spreads to other buildings and do more damage. They have a plan.

    Walking on eggshells doesn’t put out the fire. Using all the necessary tools does. Using the correct words are part of the tools to describe what needs to be done.

    You’ve been away too long. Great to see you pulling us all in for another of your cautionary posts. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Most of the blame for all these atrocities – including crusades – rests with those who propagate lies as religion. All the main religions are, in fact, not based on fact. Their teachings are largely invalid except for the ones espousing good behaviour which are mostly given lip-service only.

    Liked by 1 person

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