Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.
Governments and organizations of every kind evade personal responsibility by making the organization the subject of an active sentence, as if it moved of its own will. Granted, it’s sometimes a useful shorthand: Procter and Gamble has introduced…, in which case the company as a whole pulled it off, presumably in adherence to an agreed-upon business strategy; we don’t really have to know just whose idea the product was.
But impersonal language is also – and more often, I think – sinister and evasive. Case in point: Someone (or more than one someone), somewhere in the federal government is making insane immigration policies and using impersonal language to get away with it.
Bad decisions don’t just happen
Like all bad decisions, like America’s chaotic and humiliating exit from Afghanistan, this self-destructive immigration policy did not just happen. Some people instigated it, and others implemented it. But whose idea was it? Who first uttered and/or wrote the words?
To pinpoint responsibility, find the words. But of course, they won’t do that.
Find the words
Someone created and communicated orders, which then cascaded down the “pyramid of obedience” (a better metaphor than “chain of command”) spreading bad ideas through obedience and the suppression of cognitive dissonance.
If no one takes responsibility, then “no one” is responsible. We need to find “No One” and arrest him. Read more about the pyramid of obedience here
He doesn’t say “I”
Again, nothing new – it’s unfortunately customary to refer to the “Administration” of any president. We’ve gotten so used to it that the diffusion of responsibility is accepted as normal.
But what is missing from presidential rhetoric today is the first person singular pronoun. The only time I hear Biden use I is when he tells rambling (and oft-refuted) confabulations about himself. For good or ill, presidents take responsibility with sentences like “My fellow Americans, I have ordered the Secretary of Defense/Treasury/Homeland Security…
A president, CEO or someone with authority identifies him/herself as the originator of policy with an active sentence in the first person singular. Start listening, if you can, to Biden’s robotic recitation of text he barely understands. How many times do you hear him describe major policy using an active sentence with I?
I heard him use I at the recent G20 in Rome, but that was for innocuous gestures like initiating commissions or task forces. When was the last time he used the first person in connection with the border chaos or the Afghanistan debacle?
Bad things just happen, originating somewhere in the organizational pyramid and affording plausible deniability to the person/people at the apex.
Did he give a speech ordering the border open to everyone in the world, thus causing violent crime, sex and drug trafficking, and untold human misery? Did he go on TV and suggest a payment of half a million to every illegal immigrant or announce the semi-clandestine delivery of illegal immigrants to American cities?
This is a truly deranged idea. That is more than most people save in a lifetime. No wonder Biden won’t take ownership.
But is it Biden’s idea?
Who knows? He barely knows what day it is. In the Biden Administration, things just happen. Three Cabinet Departments are mentioned in the article, but whose idea was it to begin with, really? And who failed to say, “Forget it. That’s crazy”?
The president lacks the courage and stature (and the speechwriters; what crap they turn out) to announce, for example, I am ordering the evacuation of Afghanistan, beginning with our military, abandoning Bagram Air Base, and leaving billions of dollars’ worth of our weapons, as well as many of our allies and citizens, behind….” Or I am proud to announce the opening of the US border to any immigrant from anywhere in the world, at anytime, for any reason. Come one, come all! Certainly a major policy change requires an inspiring presidential speech to sell it.
No, they just went ahead and did it. Maybe because it wouldn’t have gone over too well.
Until Congress can do something short-term about the hideous and worsening immigration problem, I suggest a Congressional Resolution, Executive Order, emergency bill, or something to the effect that beginning Jan, 1, 2022, the residences (all of them!), guest houses, and grounds of all members of Congress and the Executive Branch be required to accommodate as many illegal aliens as possible, no health or background check and no upper limit.
Let’s start shipping them in. If unrestricted immigration is such a great thing, then we should all enjoy its benefits. .