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The words of war can be dangerous
One of the spookiest symptoms of war fever is the way it debases language and herds people into ideological quarantine. As communication breaks down, ever more unrestrained behaviour becomes acceptable against one's opponents, who eventually loom as simply The Enemy.

With what glee, for instance, has the U.S. been trashing the French lately, as though the silver lining in the war on terror has been liberation from the restraints of political correctness.

The gutter press is amplifying the menace of its anti-Europe jibes with barbaric overtones. "If we'd sprinkled some A-bombs back in World War II," opined the Weekly World News, "Germany wouldn't be a thorn in America's side today." The unthinkable begins in small rivulets of hatred. War fever feeds on this.

And so it is excruciating to watch the deterioration of discourse at the level of national leadership. In lieu of retaining its power to declare war, Congress changed its menu. This great deliberative body has chosen to dumb itself into the role of trivial cheerleader for unilateralism, giving us - sacre bleu - freedom fries to chew on.

Freedom fries are to freedom what french fries are to the potato: nutritionally empty slivers of something that once kept people alive.

As Adlai Stevenson once said, it hurts too much to laugh and I'm too big to cry. Groping to express my dismay at such grim foolishness, I recall, also, what Susan Sontag wrote in the New Yorker soon after Sept. 11, calling the wrath of the righteous down on herself: Source.

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March 27, 2003