American Newspeak


“pre-emptive strikes” on logic and the English language
by politicians, CEOs, and the media has turned into one of our Empire’s
major industries. In recognition of the cutting edge advances being
made today in American Newspeak, we are offering these awards to
deserving individuals. Entries were judged by an exacting standard—how
many times their utterances would make George Orwell roll over in
his grave. Here are this month’s winners.  

Knows Best 

U.S. Justice Department broke new ground with its crafting of the
Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003. Among its finer encroachments
on civil liberties, revealed by the Center for Public Integrity,
is Section 501. It would allow the government to strip U.S. citizenship
away from anyone giving “material support” to any group
designated as terrorists. 

of you may recall the U.S. Constitution forbids depriving Americans
of their citizenship. A minor point. Justice Department lawyers
adroitly found a loophole—the Constitution allows people to
voluntarily give up their rights. The bill’s authors then reasoned,
“an intent to relinquish nationality need not be manifested
in words, but can be inferred from conduct.”  

the Visuals 

Secretary of State Colin Powell addressed the UN, his background
“visuals” consisted of blue draperies neatly trimmed by
a row of flags. Few knew the draperies had to be installed that
morning to cover over a work of art that normally stands there—a
massive tapestry reproduction of Picasso’s famous anti-war
painting “Guernica.” 

in defense of the cover-up of Picasso’s images of dying women,
children, and animals was UN spokesperson Steph- ane Dujaric, who
stated, “We needed the right background that would work on
television.” (If only Picasso had painted happy faces.) Unbeknownst
to him, Powell was presenting the world with a perfect metaphor
of how our policies and language of “collateral damage”
cover over the realities of human suffering.   



British government was forced to admit that large sections of their
“up-to-date” report on Iraq’s deception had been
lifted word for word from an article by a postgraduate student in
California named Ibrahim al Mirashi. The plagiarism was so blatant
that even spelling and punctuation errors from the original articles
had been repeated. 

our English colony deserves praise for a number of key improvements
on Marashi’s prose. Where the student described the Iraqi intelligence
agency as “monitoring foreign embassies in Iraq,” the
British upgraded that to “spying on foreign embassies in Iraq.”
Much better. Where Marashi referred to Iraq “aiding opposition
groups in hostile regimes,” British Intelligence improved this
to “supporting terrorist organizations in hostile regimes.”
Same evidence, just more “up-to-date” conclusions, which
is undoubtedly why Colin Powell relied on it in his U.N. speech. 


state of Florida found yet another creative use for surveillance
satellites. Under pressure from Florida orange growers, they have
plans to aim their lenses at Brazil’s orange groves to count
how many trees they have producing oranges. Florida orange growers
have complained that Brazil’s crop forecasts are too inaccurate
and drive down prices for Florida oranges. 

honors go to Bob Crawford, director of Florida’s Department
of Citrus, for this insight in defense of the surveillance proposal.
“It’s creating a database,” he said. “I think
it will bring us closer together.” Don’t we all feel “closer”
when we see cameras focused on us? 

Grytting is the author of

American Newspeak: The Mangling
of Meaning for Power and Profit.

More of his collected
absurdities can be found at