A Single Word

Geez. The Bush folks sure are pissed about Amnesty International’s use of the word “gulag”, huh? Perhaps Amnesty should just clarify things a bit by eschewing comparisons to the Soviet Union and making it clear that when they say “gulags”, they simply meant “secret prisons in which innocent people have been tortured to death”.

On a serious note, it’s clear what’s going on here. The Bushies are focusing in on a single word and are going to hit back at Amnesty International until they say something even vaguely conciliatory. At that point, they’ll declare victory. (“Haven’t you heard? Our rape rooms aren’t ‘gulags’.”) Nevermind the details of the report. The use of hyperbole[1] will render the actual charges obsolete. We’ve seen it happen over and over again.

The fact that this particular AI report was almost dead (in news cycle terms, anyways) until the President decided to abuse the word “absurd” is the biggest irony here. Rumsfeld is giving a press conference right now because the President’s poor attempt to make the question go away only made things worse. The obvious quote here is “thou doth protest too much” because it’s true. These guys wouldn’t be complaining this loudly if it hadn’t gotten under their skin.

Amnesty International obviously hit a nerve and the Bush Administration is going to keep hitting back until there’s a moment of weakness that they can take advantage of. The key here is not to get tripped up in a semantic debate. Innocent people are being abused right now due to our President’s decision that the Geneva Conventions don’t apply to our new wars. Don’t let a petty argument over word choice allow the President to deflect attention from the fact that he’s a human rights abuser.

1 :Which in this case isn’t hyperbole at all, but whatever….