One year ago today, journalist Stephen Vincent was murdered in the Iraqi city of Basra. In one of his last interviews he gave us a reminder of how the words we use to describe our current conflict matter:
“Words matter. Words convey moral clarity. Without moral clarity, we will not succeed in Iraq. That is why the terms the press uses to cover this conflict are so vital. For example, take the word â€œguerillas.â€ As you noted, mainstream media sources like the New York Times often use the terms â€œinsurgentsâ€ or â€œguerillasâ€ to describe the Sunni Triangle gunmen, as if these murderous thugs represented a traditional national liberation movement. But when the Times reports on similar groups of masked reactionary killers operating in Latin American countries, they utilize the phrase â€œparamilitary death squads.â€ Same murderers, different designations.”
Now, more than ever, we could use the wisdom of perception of people like Stephen Vincent.