The Defense of the Indefensible

Back in high school, we covered 1984 by George Orwell, and despite its disturbing and horrific atmosphere (I still feel an unpleasant crawl in my spine at Room 101), it was very intriguing.  1984 is quite huge pointer that you should quit glossing and going on how your nation’s actions are “good” when in reality, it is no better than the so-called “evil” nation’s.

Likewise, during tutorial, we discussed about the phrase in his essay, Politics and the English Language which is the title of this entry.  “The defense of the indefensible.”  In context with the essay, the phrase means to cover up abominable actions that are used against those who cannot defend themselves.  Orwell obliged with giving a good number of examples such as the atomic bombs dropped in Japan (Hiroshima and Nagasaki) and when Britain ruled India.

Additionally, Orwell assessed that such atrocious actions were covered up and defended by language itself.  Once more, Orwell provides examples to showcase this.  “Transfer of population” or “rectification of frontiers” really means millions of poor peasants having their property taken from them and sent away with only what they can carry.  “Pacification”, you say? That actually means to totally wreck defenceless villages by bombarding the air, driving out the villagers, gun down their cattle with machine guns, and set their homes on fire for good measure.

Language is a powerful thing, and it is frequently used to manipulate.  Politicians, in particular, seem very fond of using this to cover up their unsavoury actions that would probably make social justice bleed.  But some just do not get that, simply because of the way these politicians and their supporters speak and utilize it.

The terminology is usually pretentious.  Big words and long phrases are thrown out to either appear intelligent to the audience, or bore them so they just no longer care.  Blindly agreeing and nonchalance are quite a deadly combination there.

Honestly, it would be difficult to pick one example where speech and writing of a political nature is placed under the category of “defense of the indefensible”.  This is because politicians, in my humble opinion, lie frequently.  Their words are never straightforward unless it is meant to insult each other as we saw in the latest debate between Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Like children, politicians hurl insults easily at each other to the point that things sound so exaggerated, it becomes downright hilarious.  However, when it comes to topics of a more mature and serious nature (such as racial discrimination, police brutality, etc.), they hide behind a wall of confusing phrases and terminology rather than just getting to the point like, “I believe that was right/wrong.”

I do recall before when Melania Trump failed spectacularly where she seemed to rip off Michelle Obama’s speech.  It seemed she was trying to invoke this “defense of the indefensible” by hiding behind the big, inspirational words that Mrs. Obama used and hope that that would win over people rather than just state outright what she was truly thinking and feeling about the whole campaign and election.

Of course, that’s not to say Orwell himself was free of using pretentious language.  I use it a lot, too.  And I think everyone just has it in them to use it from time-to-time to probably sound more “efficient” or “capable” or even “intelligent” and even “educated”.

You just need to stay on point and not get lost in your own words.