Block those Metaphors!

Bad neighborhood
Schoolyard bully

Each is ill-informed, simple-minded, catchy and entirely inaccurate. Take “quagmire:” Re-purposed during the American invasion of Viet Nam, “quagmire” was the perfect metaphor for an imperial army and enterprise in defeat. “Quagmire” rolls so easily off the lips of prime time commentators—“We don’t want to get stuck in a quagmire”—because it carries all the comfortable American  assumptions that allow us to sleep the deep, deep American sleep of denial: American intentions are always good and pure, the US always comes in peace promoting democracy and human rights, American foreign policy is guided by high moral standards. When things go bad and the lies are exposed and apparent (Viet Nam, Afghanistan, Iraq)  the masters of war do a quick makeover, transforming themselves from aggressors to victims, claiming that the innocent first step into a swamp not of our making has tripped us up and trapped us.

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