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Identifying With The Enemy

Words are almost living things. They change and evolve and adapt, their commonly-accepted meaning shifting with usage and time.

One word that has become more and more common in the past few years has been "insurgent."

I first started digging into the word when I started writing a piece excoriating the media's use of "insurgent" to describe the people we're fighting in Iraq. I was halfway through my tirade, based on the notion that "insurgent" carries the implication of a native rebellion when a good chunk of those terrorists were non-Iraqis, when I actually looked up what the word means:

a person who rises in forcible opposition to lawful authority, esp. a person who engages in armed resistance to a government or to the execution of its laws; rebel.

With that, my half-written piece went straight into the trash.

That rankled a great deal. That, combined with my deep-seated hatred of those who are attacking our troops in Iraq, led me to an utterly unreasonable and unjustifiable loathing for the word itself.

My personal reasons aside, I think that "insurgent" has become a "bad" word. It's become the new preferred term for terrorists, thugs, butchers, murderers, and other sordid lowlife scum. By calling them "insurgents," those who oppose the US killing the dirtbags that need killing avoid having to admit that they are offering support to those dirtbags.

And now it's getting worse.

Thanks to my sometime colleague Rob Port, I've discovered that "insurgent" is now making its way into American politics, and is being cheerfully embraced by the Democratic presidential frontrunner:

"Look, I'm the challenger, I'm the upstart," he said. "I'm the insurgent -- she's, she's the champ. She's part of the Democratic network in Washington and, you know, if you're the title holder then you don't lose it on points. You got to be knocked out."

(emphasis added)

I don't like that. I don't like that at all.

Now, I'm not some whiny git. (At least, not this time.) I'm not going to all on Senator Barack Obama to apologize for the use of the word. Technically, it's a proper use of the word -- another accepted definition of "insurgent" is "a member of a section of a political party that revolts against the methods or policies of the party" -- and that certainly fits Obama's upsetting of Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Machine's "air of inevitability" push to put her back in the White House.

The word has become, to me, tainted by its associations with terrorists and other perpetrators of heinous deeds. It ought to be avoided, not embraced.

Fortunately for Senator Obama, most of those who have pushed the "insurgent" theme or, at least, tolerated and embraced its redefinition, are those who are most likely to vote for him anyway. People like me aren't overly likely to vote for him anyway, so pushing our buttons won't really cost him much.

But it still bugs the hell out of me, and I wish he'd not do it again.


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Comments (35)

Jay Tea:The wor... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

Jay Tea:

The word has become, to me, tainted by its associations with terrorists and other perpetrators of heinous deeds. It ought to be avoided, not embraced.

That's the interesting thing about language: we can all place so many different meanings and understandings upon it. And this is just one example of the way that you are linking the use of the word 'insurgent' as it is being used in two different contexts.

Fortunately for Senator Obama, most of those who have pushed the "insurgent" theme or, at least, tolerated and embraced its redefinition, are those who are most likely to vote for him anyway. People like me aren't overly likely to vote for him anyway, so pushing our buttons won't really cost him much.

Well Jay Tea, I kinda think you're reaching on this one, but that's just my opinion. To me it's just another word, and one that is, like all words, interpreted and understood in various ways by people.

Obama, as you say, did use the word correctly. The connection between what he is saying and your sentiments about the war in Iraq are YOUR CONNECTIONS. Not something that is inherent in the word, but you already know that.

Here is the online etymology of the word, for what it's worth. It's origins date to at least the mid 18th century:

insurgent (n.)

"one who rises in revolt," 1765, from L. insurgentem (nom. insurgens), prp. of insurgere "rise up, rise against, revolt," from in- "against" + surgere "to rise" (see surge). An obsolete verb insurge "to rise in opposition or insurrection" is attested from 1535.

Imagine the different ways that one word has been understood and employed since 1765. Gotta love language.

...and the etymology was on... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

...and the etymology was on the same Dictionary.com page that you linked to, just a little further down the page.

Ryan, if a couple of profes... (Below threshold)

Ryan, if a couple of professional black activists can get a guy fired for using "niggardly" correctly, then I can complain (mildly, especially for me) about Obama calling himself an "insurgent."

J.

Look, I am not looking to c... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

Look, I am not looking to curtail your right to complain about the ways that Obama uses a particular word. Not by any means. Just posting my responses to what you wrote. That's what this is all about, right?

a person who rises in fo... (Below threshold)

a person who rises in forcible opposition to lawful authority,...

Does the fact that the media has never considered the U.S. presence in Iraq to be a "lawful authority" invalidate their insistence on the term?

Jay Tea, you beat me to my ... (Below threshold)
metrico:

Jay Tea, you beat me to my first thought about what you wrote - it is as stupid as those who complain about using the word "niggardly." Or "tar baby," to use another example.

In other words, if they can be moronic, you can be moronic, too?

This is at best a bad judge... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica, Immigrant:

This is at best a bad judgement on Obama 's part. Why would he want to use that term? Is that a slip of the tongue or does he actually believe that?

His past ties with the terrorists are curious too.
http://hotair.com/archives/2008/02/24/obamessiah-and-the-weathermen-more-recent-sightings/

During your "research" wha... (Below threshold)
John Ryan:

During your "research" what percentage of foreign born insurgents did you find ? I thought that I recalled it to be less than 5%.

LoveAmerica, I just read so... (Below threshold)
Jo:

LoveAmerica, I just read something about those Barack-Terrorist ties and it is VERY disturbing. Wait till America finds out this sort of stuff. Can you imagine? Do we really think that at the end of the day America will vote for a guy named Barack Hussein Obama who has friends that were past terrorists? No way in hell.

It's going to be President McCain - get used to it.

The only people who will vo... (Below threshold)
groucho:

The only people who will vote for Obama are those with an open mind and those are sick and tired of what the current administration has done to our country and our system of government over the last 7+ years; in other words, most of the country, both Repubs and Dems. President Obama - get used to it.

This post is just more evidence of the right's increasing desperation over what they know to be inevitable...a wholesale rejection of the current failed regime. I predict the largest margin of victory in the popular vote, for the Democratic nominee of course, in many years.

Jay, who and the hell made ... (Below threshold)
BarneyG2000:

Jay, who and the hell made you the word police? Have you really gotten to the point that you are upset of the meaning and the use of one word in hundreds of thousands the man has spoken since announcing his run for the presidency?

How about words that matter? Do I really have pull a choice few words from Bush (bring it on) to highlight the argument? How about McCain saying he would not strike into Pakistan without Pakistan approval? Really? Not even if we OBL in on sights? He would let that SOB go because he couldn't get approval from the Pakistani government?

That is something to get angry about.

LAI:This is at ... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

LAI:

This is at best a bad judgement on Obama 's part. Why would he want to use that term? Is that a slip of the tongue or does he actually believe that?

Does he actually believe what? Obama, as Jay writes, did use the word in the correct sense, which basically means to rise up against something or someone. The word 'insurgent' can be used in many different contexts, and does ot automatically refer to the current war we are engaged in.

Talk about making something out of nothing.

Dear Jo:LoveAme... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

Dear Jo:

LoveAmerica, I just read something about those Barack-Terrorist ties and it is VERY disturbing. Wait till America finds out this sort of stuff. Can you imagine?

Which article or book did you read? Who wrote it? Link? Sources are always nice to back up major assertions like this.

Do we really think that at the end of the day America will vote for a guy named Barack Hussein Obama who has friends that were past terrorists? No way in hell.

Last time I checked there were no restrictions on the names that candidates had to have. You do realize that Hussein is a very common name, don't you? I'm sure you do. And you do realize that a given name has little to do with the character of a person, don't you?

Again, what did you read that has you all worked up about Obama's past. If you have something that is this groundbreaking I would hope you would share it with the rest of us.

Baghdad barney - "Jay, ... (Below threshold)
marc:

Baghdad barney - "Jay, who and the hell made you the word police?"

The same guy/gal that made you the Chief of the Asshat Police?

"But it still bugs the hell... (Below threshold)
jp2:

"But it still bugs the hell out of me, and I wish he'd not do it again."

Jay, sorry to bring this up, but Frank Rich used your same.hated.word. in his column today. I'll keep you updated if I see anyone else using it. Hope you can sleep tonight,

How about McCain saying ... (Below threshold)

How about McCain saying he would not strike into Pakistan without Pakistan approval?

What about Obama's statements about Pakistan, Barney? You really make this too easy.

I was thinking along the li... (Below threshold)
epador:

I was thinking along the lines of a simple desultory Phillipic, but its too nice to spend all that time redoing it.

Suffice it to say:
I've been surged and insurged,
so much I ready to regurge
Ann Coultered and nearly branded a Republican because I'm Right-Handed
THat's the hand I use, well you won't mind.


Jay, sorry to bring t... (Below threshold)

Jay, sorry to bring this up, but Frank Rich used your same.hated.word. in his column today.

That may establish Jay's point even more so. I can think of no major corporation that has so thoroughly destroyed its brand and market position than the New York Times. Perhaps Jay has identified yet another symptom of their demise.

Which article or book did y... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica, Immigrant:

Which article or book did you read? Who wrote it? Link? Sources are always nice to back up major assertions like this.
-------------------------------------
All the links are here if you bother to read


http://hotair.com/archives/2008/02/24/obamessiah-and-the-weathermen-more-recent-sightings/

Obama has links to the Democratic Socialist of America as well. Why are you afraid to be honest about who Obama is and his extremist liberal agenda?

More disturbing ties here</... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica, Immigrant:
Again, Obama is a perfect c... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica, Immigrant:
LAI:Thanks for the... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

LAI:

Thanks for the links.

About the Farrakhan connection. From the article you linked to:

Link 1:

I don't for a moment think that Obama shares Wright's views on Farrakhan. But the rap on Obama is that he is a fog of a man. We know little about him, and, for all my admiration of him, I wonder about his mettle.

The basic point of the writer is that the author is questioning Obama's 'mettle'. The association with Farrakhan is second hand at best, and there has been NO indication that Obama agrees with either Wright or Farrakhan politically. Maybe he should distance himself more vocally, but I do not see some major threar or issue here. And neither did the author of the article.

Link 2:

This doesn't mean that Obama professes the same support for political violence as the Weather couple, but it does show a lack of backbone in rejecting those that do. If Obama can't stand up to two discredited American terrorists in Chicago ... well, you get the drift. What does it say about Obama's politics that Ayers and Dohrn approved of him, and what does it say about Obama that he felt he needed their blessing?

This is the main point of Ed's post. And I tend to agree that this association is problematic for Obama. It does not mean that he agrees with the couple politically, and Ed states that. But it is something that shows questionable judgement 13 years ago. Still, this is a far cry from being solid "tied with the terrorists" as you wrote above. I think that Ed takes things a little far in what he thinks this all means. That's my take.

Link 3:

This is really a link from Instapundit to three short posts about Obama's adviser Samantha Power. And they are talking about her ideas of foreign policy, and where she places her emphasis. I can see why you disagree with what she is saying, but I cannot see why you think this link is illustrative of some extremist liberal agenda. And for the record, don't assume that I agree with everything that she is saying, because I don't. But then, I don't support anyone just because they are on a particular side of the political spectrum.

Link 4:

This is a short opinion-based post on Powerline. It's critical of some of Obama's ideas, but hardly substantive. Is this all you have? What part of this is particularly impressive or convincing to you?

Link 5:

Another reference to the Ayers and Dohrn connction, which is a little loose. So you are making the assertion that Barack Obama is really a terrorist who is here to destroy the USA instead of be a good president? Is that what you're getting at? Is there a massive conspiracy that you see here? I would like to know what you think is happening here.

Nothing I have read here is exactly very substantive or alarming. There are some examples of questionable judgment, but that seems to be about it. What I'm wondering is how you interpret these links. Do you really think that Obama is a terrorist sympathizer or something? I am asking for your honest opinion here.

More for LAI:Ob... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

More for LAI:

Obama has links to the Democratic Socialist of America as well. Why are you afraid to be honest about who Obama is and his extremist liberal agenda?

If I remember right, the DS of America endorsed Obama, right? But I'm not quite sure if that really reflects upon him all that much, since groups can endorse whoever they want without the candidate necessarily approving them. Are there some other connections you know about?

One last question: Can you please define what you mean by "extremist liberal agenda"? You really throw that one around a lot, and I'm wondering what you mean by it specifically. And I'm not baiting you, just wondering what you mean and where you are coming from.

Thanks.

Ryan, Looks like yo... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica, Immigrant:

Ryan,
Looks like you don't want to face the facts or the truth here. It sounds like you agree with the extremist agenda advocated by Obama. That 's why you can so easily discount these disturbing links.

Link 1: Richard Cohen is a liberal, so he simply tried to give it the best possible explanation. Imagine McCain tie to such a racist and anti-Semitic church like Pastor Wright 's church. Wright is a long time spiritual mentor of Obama. It is definitely a big alarm for the Jewish community (given how Obama is not so courageous in condemning anti-semitic attack from this own party, eg the attack in Tennesse race, a black candidate using anti-semitic accusation against a Jewish candidate in a dem primary). Maybe for liberals like you anti-semitism is not that big a deal. So you can brush this off. But honest liberals like Richard Cohen are definitely more concerned about this

Link 2: Again, you don't want to face the truth
Let's also look at the mainstream media disinterest in this story. Imagine what the media would report if John McCain had met with Timothy McVeigh in 1995 to secure his blessing for re-election to the Senate, or if he had met with Eric Rudolph the following year. After all, both men planted bombs to effect political change in which they completely believed. Rudolph killed about the same number of people as the Weather Underground did. None of these people ever repented of their actions.

Still, John McCain hasn't issued pardons to domestic terrorists, and he hasn't met with them to get blessings for political campaigns, either.

Now we get more recent links between Obama and these domestic terrorists. Again, honest liberals who want America to win would be disturbed about this. But if you want the terrorists to win in Iraq for example, then you will try to discount this.


Link 3: Again, Obama 's selection of advisors again confirmed his tendency towards kissing up to our enemies and Israel enemies. They seems oblivious to the possible genocide in Iraq with a quick US withdrawal. It seems to confirm the anti-Israel bias of his church

Link 4: A very definite exposure of the intellectual dishonesty of Obama 's rhetoric. I haven't even posted about Obama 's recent clueless comment about the military. Again his tendency towards socialism. He is trying to push through a 890 billion dollars of global tax.

Link 5: another analysis of Obama 's association with domestic terrorists. At the very least he didn't show good judgement to be a president. At worst, he is comfortable with their violent anti-American ideology. His wife 's comments, his actions (not saluting the flags, not wearing flag pins, his volunteers hanging Cuban communist flag etc...) again confirms his strong anti-American bias at the very least.

After doing a little more r... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

After doing a little more reading about the connections between Obama and the Weatherman couple, I tend to agree with those who think this is relevant, yet hardly rock solid (so I tend to agree with this basic position over at The New Republic. It's newsworthy, but there doesn't seem to be much beyond that. Obama met with and has some relations with these 60's radicals. But what does that mean?

I'm not quite sure if I want to know all of the people that our politicians meet and have met with in the past. But I do know that's it's a little dangerous to make assumptions without having very much information.

I'm wondering how many people here are truly concerned with Obama's "connections." Anyone?

sorry for the double post..... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

sorry for the double post...

I do. Honest liberals like ... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica, Immigrant:

I do. Honest liberals like Richard Cohen does have concerns with anti-Semitic views of Obama 's church. Given that Cohen is such a long time liberal, it should be concern for people who claim to care about racism and anti-semitism. Obama 's selection of advisors again confirmed the influence of the far-leftist communist ideology.

ew Republic is simply another liberal rag in the tank for Obama. It is interesting that NR can get in the smear of McCain with the NYT while brushing off all these disturbing ties and records of Obama.

AT the very least, Obama didn't show extremely poor judgement. Maybe for personal political ambition, he had to get in bed with these far left communist orgs (Dem Socialism of America etc...) to get ahead in the liberal dem politics of Illinois. But then it is dangerous to support such a person who is willing to get in bed with anti-American org to win elections. At worst, he is comfortable with their violent anti-American and anti-Semitic views.

In summary, we should be ho... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica, Immigrant:

In summary, we should be honest enough to acknowledge who Obama is and his extremist liberal agenda. Obama has long term association with violent anti-American, racist, and anti-semitic views and organizations. His record earned him the #1 liberal rating (even beating the known socialist Bernie Sanders), ie a liberal extremist or a commie or a progressive. His actions (not wearing flag pins, not saluting the flags) and his rhetoric consistently point to his terrorist friendly and anti-American ideology.

"I'm not quite sure if I wa... (Below threshold)
jp2:

"I'm not quite sure if I want to know all of the people that our politicians meet and have met with in the past."

Are you sure? Rummy met with Saddam and he never heard the end of criticism from the right wing. Totally consistent.

Are you sure? Rummy met wit... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica, Immigrant:

Are you sure? Rummy met with Saddam and he never heard the end of criticism from the right wing. Totally consistent.
-------------------------------------
Another dumb comment, but typical of liberal in any case. Iran declared war on us by taking our diplomats as hostages. So we allied with Saddam to fight against the mullahs. Where was the condemnation of Roosevelt shaking hands with Stalin? Is this a dumb hypocrisy of the left?

So what enemies Obama was trying to fight by allying himself with these domestic anti-American communist organizations? It is sad if that enemy is America itself.

BTW, we can agree that the NR is a rag in the dump with the NYT time. Their hypocrisy is so obvious.

LAI:Maybe for l... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

LAI:

Maybe for liberals like you anti-semitism is not that big a deal. So you can brush this off. But honest liberals like Richard Cohen are definitely more concerned about this.

Ok pal, try to avoid putting words in my mouth and assuming that you know what I think. Anti-semitism is most definitely a serious issue, and it's not something that I brush off, as you say. Just as any other form of racism or bigotry should not be brushed off or ignored.

Hmmm. You know, this bit of information about who Obama met with isn't quite freaking me out. Sorry, but there has to be something a little more substantive. It's all so tenuous. They roamed in similar political circles, and Obama was at a meeting at the their house years ago. I know it disturbs you, but if the situation was reversed and it was John McCain, I would have to question the importance of the connection. Just like I think that NY Times ordeal with McCain is overblown. I care less about these murky connections than I do the public record of these people.

Link 3: Again, Obama 's selection of advisors again confirmed his tendency towards kissing up to our enemies and Israel enemies. They seems oblivious to the possible genocide in Iraq with a quick US withdrawal. It seems to confirm the anti-Israel bias of his church

Wow, you're all over the place. OK, what specific position on the Israeli situation do you disagree with? And how does Obama's position on it show an anti-Israel bias?

I agree with you that withdrawing from Iraq rapidly would cause great upheaval. It's not something that can be done instantly at this point, IMO.

Link 4: A very definite exposure of the intellectual dishonesty of Obama 's rhetoric.

Not really. This is an indirect and heavily opinionated characterization of Obama's positions. Now, what specifically about Obama's ideas on immigration do you disagree with, and why? Try to argue against what Obama is actually saying, as opposed to what some writer on Powerline is saying he said.

Link 5: another analysis of Obama 's association with domestic terrorists. At the very least he didn't show good judgement to be a president. At worst, he is comfortable with their violent anti-American ideology. His wife 's comments, his actions (not saluting the flags, not wearing flag pins, his volunteers hanging Cuban communist flag etc...) again confirms his strong anti-American bias at the very least.

The links are vague and weak, as are the assumptions that he is sympathetic to the 1960s political ideology that those people followed.

I have a feeling that you are going to believe that Obama is the epitome of all evil no matter what...and that's your prerogative. I think you're positions are a little excessive, but that's just my opinion. You have your views, I have mine. It is interesting to see more of where you are coming from though.

Maybe at some point you will consider the possibility that people can disagree with you and still be decent human beings. Imagine that.

Maybe that's what the whole freedom of speech and freedom of choice thing was all about, eh?

Anyway, good luck out there.

So what enemies Obama wa... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

So what enemies Obama was trying to fight by allying himself with these domestic anti-American communist organizations? It is sad if that enemy is America itself.

The point is more that 'meeting' with someone does not mean that you are necessarily sympathetic to their political ideologies, actions, or choices. If that's the case, then there are quite a lot of politicians who are in deep trouble.

Ryan, These are kno... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica, Immigrant:

Ryan,
These are known facts. You can go to the website of Obama 's church and find out what they believe. Honest liberals like Richard Cohen are concerned enough about anti-semitism to raise the issues. Obama 's cheap excuse for not agreeing is quite weak given his long term association with this church. His past ties with these terrorist and communist groups are a matter of record. Again here are the facts again for you to consider instead of spinning them away. I gave you the best case scenario: an ambitious politician who wants to get ahead in the liberal dem politics of Illinois and the worst case scenario of his comfort with those anti-American and anti-semitic views. Either way he is dangerous for America. That conclusion is reached by looking at the facts of his records, actions, and rhetoric.


AT the very least, Obama did show extremely poor judgement. Maybe for personal political ambition, he had to get in bed with these far left communist orgs (Dem Socialism of America etc...) to get ahead in the liberal dem politics of Illinois. But then it is dangerous to support such a person who is willing to get in bed with anti-American org to win elections. At worst, he is comfortable with their violent anti-American and anti-Semitic views.

In summary, we should be honest enough to acknowledge who Obama is and his extremist liberal agenda. Obama has long term association with violent anti-American, racist, and anti-semitic views and organizations. His record earned him the #1 liberal rating (even beating the known socialist Bernie Sanders), ie a liberal extremist or a commie or a progressive. His actions (not wearing flag pins, not saluting the flags) and his rhetoric consistently point to his terrorist friendly and anti-American ideology.

"Where was the condemnation... (Below threshold)
jp2:

"Where was the condemnation of Roosevelt shaking hands with Stalin?"

I was there in the background, right behind Winston. (The one wearing a hat and shaking his fist)

"Where was the condemnation... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica, Immigrant:

"Where was the condemnation of Roosevelt shaking hands with Stalin?"

I was there in the background, right behind Winston. (The one wearing a hat and shaking his fist)
------------------------------------
OK, what you are saying is that Roosevelt should have taken on both Stalin and Hitler at the same time, maybe turning them into allies so that the US can fight them both? This is a perfect example of the stupidity of liberals. Or are you trying a silly spin?




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