It’s an age-old fact that with one’s choice of words, one can win over the hearts and minds of people. Words are enough to deliver fatal blows and terrorise the masses. I believe those associated with history would be able to understand the point I’m trying to make. Adolf Hitler, the Führer of Nazi Germany, mobilised the masses and sent the Germans to war.
If we dig deeper into history, we’ll realise that the early colonisers from Britain and France masked their urge to conquer the world in a fine velvet shroud. ‘White man’s burden’, as it was known. This was a strategy to shed blood in order to ‘civilise the uncivilised’ people of Asia and Africa.
Okay, allow me to explain this through an example. Let us consider Winston Churchill’s testimony before the Peel Commission in 1937 in order to understand what had gone wrong in Palestine. “We committed ourselves to the idea (of Balfour Declaration) that some day, far off in the future, subject to justice and economic convenience, there might well be a greater Jewish settlement, numbered by millions, far more than the present inhabitants of the country.”Political language is designed to make lies appear truthful. This deceptive jugglery continues even today with old phrases paving the way for new ones. I’ve heard quite a lot of speeches these political leaders have made. All these speeches were peppered with some really fancy words such as ‘the utopian dociety’, ‘freedom of speech and expression’, ‘nation-building’, ‘human rights’ etc. Well, it’s really difficult to find fault in these words. All of them sound great.
These words are enough to give anyone a ray of hope that the common man has finally come of age and the world will soon be delivered from all its evils like terrorism, poverty, hunger and injustice. Quite a rosy picture is being painted. World leaders are artfully spinning their stories to make themselves sound truthful. Political language even makes murder look respectable. I’ve heard some leaders saying things such as, “The free world has decided to…,” but I don’t really know who constitutes the free world. What and how many countries are there in this free world? And which are the countries who are not free, who don’t have a right to speak?It is in the gap between spoken words and real intentions where the king usually stands naked. Something bad happens in the United States and world leaders unite, but thousands have died in Syria and no one has even bothered to ask.
The West speaks a lot about the war crimes committed by Bashar al-Assad, but no one has bothered to talk about the war crimes committed by this superpower in Afghanistan. The detention camp in the US, a place where hundreds and thousands of prisoners are captured outside the pale of law. Nothing will wash clean the horrible torture that was committed there.
In 2001, when the Afghan ambassador to Pakistan was captured and sent to Guantanamo Bay, he wrote: “One of the worst things was when the toilets became blocked. The smell of the filthy water would blanket the whole block. We weren’t given soap and toilet paper to clean ourselves after using the toilet. The prisoners used the same hands to eat their food afterwards. This is how those who claim to defend human rights made us live.”Ideologies haven’t changed at all. Only the lips from which they are said keep changing.