In election year, words take on an Orwellian twist

September 21, 2012

George Orwell would be proud to see his ideas vindicated this election year. What Orwell called "Newspeak" — the deliberately impoverished fictional language created by an all-powerful state in his novel "1984" — is now the full-blown language of the day.

Take the words "courage" and "cowardice." Those demonizing others while running for office have convinced us that bullying and attack, even if it leads to death, is courage, while dialogue or compromise with those who hold opposing points of view is cowardice.

We all know that it takes more courage to sit down with those holding opposing points of view and really listen, and maybe even modify our own view, than it does to attack the other. Yet we allow the cowards to run for office, monopolize the airwaves and turn us against each other.

Ambassador Chris Stevens was courageous. Yet his approach to listening and dialogue is only extolled after his death. Real courage is dangerous in life. Let's start holding our leaders, office seekers and media personalities to the real meaning of the word.

Dick Cook, Baltimore

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