We often hear the angry white man demonstrate his conservatism by proclaiming "words have meaning". Indeed, it can be frustrating when the political correctness of liberalism requires the use of euphemisms instead of plain language. Of course, the conservative mind is incapable of recognizing that the right employs certain words and phrases to obscure meaning. Political correctness is not limited to one political persuasion.
The supporters of President Bush's doctrine of pre-emptive war don't appear to be upset that this doctrine is in fact a doctrine of preventive war. In this case, words do not have meaning. Preventive war is a war of choice against a nation that may become a threat at some time in the future. A pre-emptive war is a measure taken to prevent an attack that is clearly imminent.
The word "democracy" is another word abused by President Bush. He routinely conflates this word with "freedom" as if the words were synonymous. One can merely look in any dictionary to find the simple meaning of the word "democracy" but to avoid the typical platitudes, I would suggest examining what H. L. Mencken had to say about democracy.
Mencken defined democracy as the pathetic belief in the wisdom of collective ignorance and the basic delusion that men may be governed - and yet be free. He believed that democracy is a form of worship - the worship of jackals by jackasses.
Another source of reference for those seeking the meaning of words is the Devil's Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce. This reference was originally published as The Cynic's Word Book and consisted of definitions written by Bierce between 1881 and 1906. Most Americans would do well by cultivating a little more cynicism in the area of politics and Bierce is a good teacher.
Here are a few definitions from the Devil's Dictionary:
ALLIANCE - In international politics, the union of two thieves who have their hands so deeply inserted in each other's pockets that they cannot separately plunder a third.
AMNESTY - The state's magnanimity to those offenders whom it would be too expensive to punish
APPEAL - In law, to put the dice into the box for another throw.
BOUNDARY - In political geography, an imaginary line between two nations, separating the imaginary rights of one from the imaginary rights of the other.
CHRISTIAN - One who believes that the New Testament is a divinely inspired book admirably suited to the spiritual needs of his neighbor. One who follows the teachings of Christ in so far as they are not inconsistent with a life of sin.
CONSERVATIVE - A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal, who wishes to replace them with others.
DEBT - An ingenious substitute for the chain and whip of the slave-driver.
FREEDOM - Exemption from the stress of authority in a beggarly half dozen of restraint's infinite multitude of methods. A political condition that every nation supposes itself to enjoy in virtual monopoly. Liberty. The distinction between freedom and liberty is not accurately known; naturalists have never been able to find a living specimen of either.
HISTORY - An account mostly false, of events mostly unimportant, which are brought about by rulers mostly knaves, and soldiers mostly fools.
IDIOT - A member of a large and powerful tribe whose influence in human affairs has always been dominant and controlling. The Idiot's activity is not confined to any special field of thought or action, but "pervades and regulates the whole." He has the last word in everything; his decision is unappealable. He sets the fashions and opinion of taste, dictates the limitations of speech and circumscribes conduct with a dead-line.
IMMIGRANT - An unenlightened person who thinks one country better than another.
LAWYER - One skilled in circumvention of the law.
PATRIOT - One to whom the interests of a part seem superior to those of the whole. The dupe of statesmen and the tool of conquerors.
POLITICS - A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage.
POLITICIAN - An eel in the fundamental mud upon which the superstructure of organized society is reared. When we wriggles he mistakes the agitation of his tail for the trembling of the edifice. As compared with the statesman, he suffers the disadvantage of being alive.
PRESIDENT - The leading figure in a small group of men of whom - and of whom only - it is positively known that immense numbers of their countrymen did not want any of them for President.
RADICALISM - The conservatism of tomorrow injected into the affairs of today.
TARIFF - A scale of taxes on imports, designed to protect the domestic producer against the greed of his consumer.
VOTE - The instrument and symbol of a freeman's power to make a fool of himself and a wreck of his country.
This article contributed by Tom Blanton of Richmond, Virginia.