Sunday, March 29, 2009

Juliet, that Capulet of Verona, said, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Janet, that Napolitano of Washington serving as secretary of homeland security, would say we’re dealing with the Rosa genus in the Rosoideae subfamily of the Rosaceae family, part of the Rosales order of the Magnoliopsida class of the Magnoliophyta division in the Plantae kingdom.

And if you said, “What the heck is that?,” welcome to the club.

Miss Napolitano is really beating around the bush in using the euphemism “man-caused disaster” for terrorism. “O, be some other name!” as Juliet would say. This is a ludicrous nuance that causes confusion; it is PC language that is almost meaningless, worse than saying salad dodger for an obese person or product relocation engineer for a trash hauler.

The euphemism, used in her first testimony to Congress, was noted by a reporter for Der Spiegel, the German magazine, which asked her whether Islamist terrorism still poses a threat to the United States. “Of course it does,” she answered. “I presume there is always a threat from terrorism. In my speech, although I did not use the word ‘terrorism,’ I referred to ‘man-caused’ disasters. That is perhaps only a nuance, but it demonstrates that we want to move away from the politics of fear toward a policy of being prepared for all risks that can occur.”

The secretary seems rather confused about her responsibilities at Homeland Security, a department that deals with, well, the security of the homeland. That security is not threatened by “man-caused disasters” (Acid rain? Water shortages? A mechanic who doesn’t find a problem and an airliner crashes with all aboard lost?). It is not “politics of fear” to cite terrorism as the major threat to homeland security. It’s called reality. Miss Napolitano needs more of it.

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