The Powder Keg in Our Future

Wednesday, October 6, 2010
By Paul Martin

by Gary North

It is always a good idea to pay attention to new words or phrases that seem to have no connection with any previous word or phrase, and which are not self-evident. Such a phrase these days is “quantitative easing.” When we hear a phrase like this, we should think through the implications of what this phrase probably means.

The new phrase may be a euphemism. A euphemism is a substitute phrase for a practice that is considered questionable or even wrong. The new phrase is substituted in order to tone down the contrast between what people regard as right and what they regard as wrong. We used to have a phrase for such a concealed practice, but it fell out of favor over 70 years ago. A euphemism was substituted for it by W. C. Fields in the movie, My Little Chickadee. He called it “the Ethiopian in the fuel supply.”

In the British sitcom, “Yes, Prime Minister,” there is a delightful scene in which Humphrey explains to Prime Minister Hacker what “modernist” means. It’s on YouTube.

Here is a popular phrase that we hear in the media from time to time: “undocumented worker.” It is a euphemism for the better-known phrase, “illegal alien.” We can be certain that a writer who adopts this euphemism, as well as the journal in which he publishes his phrase, is hostile to the idea of doing anything about illegal aliens. He is probably attached to a political party, or faction within a political party, that wants to avoid dealing with the question of illegal aliens.

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