Tip to My Hush-Hush Contact Inside the Language Police
I was lounging around the apartment today -- the place is still in party configuration though thoroughly cleaned, and the party was terrif, by the way, a million laughs with long-time friends, deeply soul-cleansing, thanx for asking.
So there I was splayed on the couch, flipping through T.V. channels, when I came across General Anthony Zinni on C-SPAN2. I caught the last 20 minutes or so of him speaking on some panel about something he seems to know something about. I don't know the name of the panel, nor the group that sponsored it. I'd just awakened from a nap so gimme a break.
Anyways, Gen. Zinni was talking about how World War II was the last, great war -- "great" in the sense that we were responding to being attacked rather than attacking preemptively, the other sides were led by monsters and constituted genuine threats to the nation, we fought all out with the entire country on a total war footing, we slugged it out all the way to the capital cities of the enemies and demanded and received the total unconditional surrender of the stinking bastards.
Zinni said it was so "great" in all of the aforesaid ways that we use it to this day as the very definition of even our metaphorical wars. War on Drugs. War on Cancer. War on Terror. We are led to believe -- whether our leaders admit it or not -- to expect World-War-II-like wars with concomitant total, unconditional victories over drugs and cancers and terrors. But as Zinni says, World War II was an aberration. You don't get "great" wars like that very often.
I'm impressed enough to get on the horn to my inside man down there to the Word Cop Shop.
"It's me," I croaked into the phone, using my special voice so he'd recognize me.
"I told you never to call me."
"I thought you said never to call you there."
"Here, there. Never call me. Ever."
"Well, since I've got you on the line, I got a tip for you."
"I don't care."
"You should make it illegal to just say 'War on something'. War on Drugs. War on Terror. That's stupid. People should be reminded things don't work that way."
"How'd you get this new number, anyway?"
"You should make them say 'Vietnam War on Drugs' or 'Korean War on Terror' or 'War in Iraq on Terror'. It would be more like the truth."
"I'm going now. You're an idiot. And don't call me again. I mean it."
"No charge for the tip, by the way. I want you to have it. As a personal favor to me."
Keep your ears peeled. Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge. I feel the language being remade even as we speak.