The power of 'them'

5-0 Kenpo

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Terms like 'enemy combatant' are used to de-humanize, even though they have legit meanings. They are much more loaded than dry words like 'target'. The word 'target' is the end result of a process, resulting in specific actions against a person. One does not become a target until after the process has ended.

The word 'enemy combatant' otoh is a label which is applied at the beginning of the process, and which justifies everything in the process. That makes it much more dangerous and insidious than 'target.

If I label someone an enemy combatant, and you are a good patriot and take me on faith, then you don't care about what I do to him or how he is treated. He is a dirty enemy combatant after all. Enemy combatant is a word that is used to dehumanize someone so that average people don't object to his further treatment. If we looked on all of those people as humans, implying they should be treated as humans with rights, innocent until proven guilty... that would be inconvenient for the people on top who feel they should be able to treat them like cattle.

I think that the truth lies somewhere in the middle of the two arguments.

It is certainly common for soldiers to develop demeaning terms for their enemies. This is an attempt at separating them from oneself which would allow an easier time to kill them.

However, I think the use of the terms enemy combatant and target have very legitimate uses. Enemy combatant is used as a legalistic term, as the group which the U.S. is fighting is unique in modern legal linguistics. They had to call them something for legal purposes due to the fact that, at least according to certain legal minds, they did not fit any of the current classifications.

By the way, I don't think adding "combatant" to the word "enemy" makes them any less human then using solely the term "enemy".

In terms of target, it is usually seen as a goal. "We have reached our target destination," or, "We have reached our monthly sales target." Remember, especially when it comes to military communications, references tend to be coded, so as not to identify to the enemy what the actual goal is. So if the goal of an operation is to kill or capture a specific person, for secrecy's sake, the use of the word "target", or their appropriate specific code word, is used. Hell, every U.S. President since Truman has had a code name used by the Secret Service. Does this de-humanize him?
 

Bruno@MT

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During the campaign for 2004, did democrats say 'George Walker Bush', or did they say George Bush or George W. Bush?
From what I followed, virtually noone used the full middle name.
 

5-0 Kenpo

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During the campaign for 2004, did democrats say 'George Walker Bush', or did they say George Bush or George W. Bush?
From what I followed, virtually noone used the full middle name.

PM sent.
 

granfire

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I think that the truth lies somewhere in the middle of the two arguments.

It is certainly common for soldiers to develop demeaning terms for their enemies. This is an attempt at separating them from oneself which would allow an easier time to kill them.

However, I think the use of the terms enemy combatant and target have very legitimate uses. Enemy combatant is used as a legalistic term, as the group which the U.S. is fighting is unique in modern legal linguistics. They had to call them something for legal purposes due to the fact that, at least according to certain legal minds, they did not fit any of the current classifications.

By the way, I don't think adding "combatant" to the word "enemy" makes them any less human then using solely the term "enemy".

In terms of target, it is usually seen as a goal. "We have reached our target destination," or, "We have reached our monthly sales target." Remember, especially when it comes to military communications, references tend to be coded, so as not to identify to the enemy what the actual goal is. So if the goal of an operation is to kill or capture a specific person, for secrecy's sake, the use of the word "target", or their appropriate specific code word, is used. Hell, every U.S. President since Truman has had a code name used by the Secret Service. Does this de-humanize him?


I suppose there is the different levels of 'dehumanasation'

Step one:
make the object neutral: target, enemy combatant
serves many purposes. but among others you take the face off a human target.
step two:
take the dignity away from the object.
so you are no longer with just an enemy combatant, but, maybe a rug head, or a gook?
It almost makes it a good deed to kill that.

I think I did not make that clear enough earlier that that was I meant.

Step one, normal, still necessary.
step two can send you on the downward spiral to classifying your oposite to nothing more of a bug to be squashed. And it has precedent.
 

5-0 Kenpo

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I suppose there is the different levels of 'dehumanasation'

Step one:
make the object neutral: target, enemy combatant
serves many purposes. but among others you take the face off a human target.
step two:
take the dignity away from the object.
so you are no longer with just an enemy combatant, but, maybe a rug head, or a gook?
It almost makes it a good deed to kill that.

I think I did not make that clear enough earlier that that was I meant.

Step one, normal, still necessary.
step two can send you on the downward spiral to classifying your oposite to nothing more of a bug to be squashed. And it has precedent.

This is a fair argument.

The only thing that I would caution is that it is against human nature to kill another human being. In order to do so, soldiers often de-humanize someone that they must kill. It is a psychological coping mechanism, and does not necessarily mean that in the abscense of needing to kill them that they would treat the people from that group as less then human.

And I don't know if you were arguing this position here, but since you use negative terms for non-white enemies, I want to address it. White U.S. soldiers in WWII used the words "Kraut", "Fritz", "Heinee", etc for Germans. And for Italians, terms such as "Guinea", "Macaroni", etc.
 
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girlbug2

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During the campaign for 2004, did democrats say 'George Walker Bush', or did they say George Bush or George W. Bush?
From what I followed, virtually noone used the full middle name.

From "W" to "Dubya". Neither are technically his true middle name, but a reference to it which was by design a way to turn then president George W Bush into one of "them".
 

Empty Hands

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From "W" to "Dubya". Neither are technically his true middle name, but a reference to it which was by design a way to turn then president George W Bush into one of "them".

I don't really think so. The use was widespread among both his allies and his enemies, and had been a nickname for years before his Presidential run. No one ever tried to use Dubya as an argument that George Bush shouldn't have been President like they did with the Barack HUSSEIN Obama nonsense. Not to say that Bush wasn't criticized in many other ways, just not with his middle name.
 

5-0 Kenpo

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I still think it's a non-sensical argument. If it wasn't his middle name, his critics would have found something else to latch onto.

Just like people have done to every candidate in history. If his name was supposed to be an indication of his religion, Thomas Jefferson was criticized for potentially being an athiest, and J.F.K. for being a Catholic.
 

Empty Hands

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If his name was supposed to be an indication of his religion, Thomas Jefferson was criticized for potentially being an athiest, and J.F.K. for being a Catholic.

Being criticized for those things was wrong. There is nothing wrong with being an atheist or a Catholic. There is also nothing wrong with having the middle name Hussein. There is something wrong with pointing out that fact repeatedly like it's supposed to mean something.
 

5-0 Kenpo

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Being criticized for those things was wrong. There is nothing wrong with being an atheist or a Catholic. There is also nothing wrong with having the middle name Hussein. There is something wrong with pointing out that fact repeatedly like it's supposed to mean something.

I agree. My only point is that it's nothing new.
 

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