Power of Words Essay

1398 Words Sep 28th, 2011 6 Pages
The Power of Words
In 2004, human rights were violated in the form of physical, psychological and sexual abuse, including torture, rape and homicide of prisoners in Abu Ghraib. These acts were committed by military police of the United States Army. Did this happen because the soldiers considered the Iraqis as inhuman, and was it caused by having a certain language to refer to the enemies? In war, soldiers find it easier to cope after killing if they know that they have killed the opposing side for the right reasons. For example, when in war, soldiers give names to the enemy to make it easier to kill them. These words are not necessarily meant to harm anyone, but it makes it easier to kill them, and protect the ones back home. In
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In the article, it is shown that giving names to the enemy is beneficial, but Lakoff’s point of view is that, many times in the past, nicknames were given during war, but her ideas are not supported enough with evidence on why creating language during wartime is a cruel idea. She uses one example of the scandal in Abu Ghraib, but this is not enough to support her argument and to make her audience believe that the wartime language is harmful. In Lakoff’s article, she states that it is a beneficial tool throughout, but only uses one example of when it did harm. She only uses one example, which makes her credibility weak. Lakoff makes her ideas consistent and logical throughout the article, but lacks the support for her argument. Lakoff argues that using words especially in times of war alters our perception of the opposing side of the war, and dehumanizes the enemy. Moreover, some of the words that are used are not used correctly. For example, Lakoff states, “Some American soldiers refer to the Iraqis as “hadjis,” used in a derogatory way, apparently unaware that the word, which comes from the Arabic term for a pilgrimage to Mecca, is used as a term of respect for older Muslim men.” (Lakoff 130)

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