Power of Words

Topics: Iraq War, World War II, United States Pages: 4 (1413 words) Published: October 13, 2011
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 “The Power of Words in Wartime,” a scholarly article written by Robin Tolmach Lakoff, she argues that the way we use words, especially in times of war, alters our perception of the opposing side of the war; also known as our “enemy.” In the article, it is mentioned that names are given to the enemy to make it easier to kill. These names dehumanize the enemy and therefore, we think of them as inhuman. Changing the language during wartime makes the soldiers feel superior, therefore, making it easier to kill the enemy. Lakoff argues that this perception will do harm in the future and is an incorrect way to refer to human beings. She supports her argument by stating examples of nicknames that were given in past wars, and addressing the modern day Abu Ghraib scandal that occurred in Iraq. Lakoff’s intent is to inform people about the problems that occur when using dehumanizing language in order to promote more peaceful actions. Lakoff argues that using this language dehumanizes our enemy, and this language could cause an immense problem in the future. Although, she argues that this language is misused, I disagree with her, because this is a beneficial tool used during wartime, and it is just another tactic used to defeat the...
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