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“Enhanced interrogation”

The Bush administration calls its torture techniques “enhanced interrogation”. Turns out that they aren’t the first to use this particular newspeak – according to Andrew Sullivan, the Nazis coined it in 1937. Why am I not surprised? (Courtesy Josh Marshall)

I think it’s pretty safe to say that this was an unintentional echo of Nazi terminology, but it says something interesting about newspeak and the generation of euphemisms. Obviously, no one wants to admit to being a torturer. Obviously it’s about more than naming – in both of these cases, the desire is to come up with terminology to describe a practice which is supposed to be something other than torture. I suppose it isn’t all that surprising that people, faced with the desire to communicate the same lie, come up with the same label. Convergent evolution.

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