Make Trek, Not Wars
May 13, 2009 1 Comment
Inside the White House, a tight circle of advisers has already been selected and office space has been set aside in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. But aides said their surroundings would purposely not be called a “war room,” because of the combative image that the term suggests.
“We would like to put the confirmation wars of the past behind us,” one White House official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the confidentiality of the selection process, “and have signaled that with our consensus-oriented, non-confrontational approach to appellate court nominations.”
I absolutely hate all of the war metaphors we use in this country. Everything is a war: war on drugs, war on terror, war on poverty, etc.
This creates an adversarial tone and belittles what an actual war is. Besides, the government is losing the war on drugs and the war on poverty. Which means stoners and the starving are winning!
This past weekend, I was thinking about this in relation to another topic: Star Trek vs. Star Wars.
Science fiction, especially good science fiction, comments on its times as well as being all sorts of futuristic and cool.
In the 50s, it was Red Menace paranoia, manifest as sci-fi.
In the late 60s and early 70s , it was Utopian hope for a better future (even though by the third season of Star Trek, stories about Vietnam were creeping in).
It used to be that our space movies and space shows were about exploration. There was Star Trek, a positive show about exploring the galaxy in the name of peace. There was “2001: a Space Odyssey.” There was “Close Encounters” and “ET,” movies with peaceful alien contact.
But somewhere, the tone changed and we leaned in a more violent direction. Star Wars replaced Star Trek as our national space mythology as “war” replaced “trek” in our national consciousness. everything became a war. there were even the Cola Wars.
Reagan capitalized on this, of course, and in the 80s, a war mentality completely took over and sci-fi responded as alien invasion and ass kicking movies became more prevalent.
Semantics are important and the words we choose for things are important. We often forget that in a day and age where sensationalism rules and the loudest yeller usually wins.
It is nice to see the president eschewing the “war room” and saving that terrible word it for actual wars, which are terrible, horrible events filled with death and destruction; something that should be avoided at all costs.
Clinton, the Baby Boomer that he is, popularized the “War Room” in politics and it has stuck since, becoming less of the rapid response counterpunch that the 92 Clinton Team created and more of an offensive weapon under the Palpatine-like fist of Karl Rove.
Now, even the article recognizes that changing the name does not change the function, but it is a start.
Whether or not the White House prefers to call it a war room, the function will be largely the same. Teams of researchers, lawyers and other strategists will defend the nominee, who is only allowed to speak publicly for a day after being introduced by the president, and not again until the confirmation hearings.
Hopefully we can get past the permanent war mentality that we’ve come to. The only thing we get by constantly visualizing war is more conflict.
And that’s not helpful to anyone.