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by Jon Burras
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Speaking in Code
It was the ingenuity of the Navajo nation that helped win the war in Europe and the Pacific
during World War Two for the Allied nations. In the early stages of the war many of the communications sent by the United States had
been intercepted by the Nazis and the Japanese. The war plans of the American and British forces were often foiled because the Axis
forces were able to steal this English language message. Navajo Indians (along with some Comanche, Lakota, Meskwaki and a few Basque)
were brought in to translate messages back and forth in their native languages. The Nazis and Japanese did not understand this code
and hence could not foil the plans of the Allied forces. It seems like we are all still speaking in code despite the fact that WWII
has been over for nearly seventy years now.
Speaking in code occurs when we are saying
something in a roundabout way without ever being direct or purposeful. Code talk is often the attempt to hide one's true intent and
to not reveal too much information. If you can create a code language you never have to go on record as having made an important decision.
The code is often loose and vague while seldom being able to pin one down to having a verbal track record.
We can see no greater example of code speak when we recall several years back when President Bill Clinton was impeached by Congress
over lying under oath about an alleged sexual affair with a young intern. President Clinton looked the camera directly in the eye
and said, "I did not have sex with that woman!" He was emphatic and bold in his statement. Later we found out that there were semen
stains on a blue dress worn by the young intern that contained the DNA of Bill Clinton. Obviously Bill Clinton was speaking in code
as his definition of "sex" was quite different than the rest of us.
All you have to do
is listen to a presidential spokesperson at an official White House briefing to understand code talk. Rarely will you get a straight
answer from the spokesperson and never will there be any admission to any mistakes being made by the administration. One might feel
nauseous and dizzy when leaving such an event as the abundance of "spin" and code speak exudes throughout the air like fresh vomit.
One could say that these presidential spokespeople are nothing more than "bullshit artists"
that say very little and admit to almost nothing. Code speech takes over and the president once again is made to look like a holy
man who walks on water. The term "transparency" is often more code speech to signify that we are telling you that we are giving you
more information while not really acting on it.
In fact it is very rare to hear any politician
speak straight and honest without using code talk. It is as refreshing as showering under a cool waterfall in the backcountry when
we hear a straight and honest person running for political office. Most politicians seldom talk about issues and offer a true opinion.
Rather, these chameleons just talk around issues and speak in code. This strategy is a way they can appeal to a wide variety of potential
voters without turning anyone against them.
Speaking in code is very common in the politically
correct arena as well. For instance, several years back a program was begun by the federal government that gave preferential treatment
to those with darker skin color and discriminated against those with lighter skin color. Admissions to colleges, grants and other
perks were handed out to people "of color." Many would call this "reverse discrimination" but this federally sanctioned program learned
to speak in code and called the program "affirmative action." By using code words the general public would be confused and the government
would not be accused of practicing discrimination.
In the much debated immigration battle
that we hear spoken of these days there is frequent mention of code terms. We often hear someone say that they are in favor of "comprehensive
immigration reform." What they are really saying is that they are in favor of giving amnesty to anyone who is living in the United
States illegally. Opponents to giving amnesty will often counter with the phrase that they support "enforcing all current laws." This
phrase is code for "let's send everyone back to where they came from if they are here illegally."
A common code term heard in the mainstream media is the phrase "conspiracy theorist." This phrase is usually a tag or label placed
on someone who thinks outside the box and challenges conventional thinking. The term is usually a derogatory phrase implying that
those who are labeled as "conspiracy theorists" have a mental issue and some sort of derangement. The reality is that a conspiracy
theorist is one who does not believe everything that he is told. He challenges text books, government policies, religious teachings
and corporate agendas. Can you not say that almost all of us disagree with some official agency somewhere and do not believe in some
state or corporate sponsored message? Would that not make us all "conspiracy theorists?"
We often hear the term "polarizing" from mainstream folks. This term is a way to use code language to demonize someone whom you do
not agree with. A person who challenges you or offers a different opinion will often be tagged with the polarizing label. It seems
that our code speech wishes to shoot the messenger if we find a message that displeases us. The messenger somehow becomes wrong because
you don't have the backbone to challenge the message or just to admit that you do not agree.
Along these same lines, social etiquette has recently added the word "haters" to the vernacular of cultural code speak. If someone
does not like something or goes against a popular trend they are automatically labeled as a "hater."
The recent national racial episodes have brought forth many new code phrases. Some people might have heard the following phrases resonating
throughout the land: "Hands up; don't shoot," "I can't breathe," and "Black lives matter." These phrases are code talk for "I do not
trust the police." Some have responded back by their own code speech. This response is "All lives matter" which is code for "I support
law enforcement." Another new racial slogan that has emerged is "No justice, no peace." This is just code talk for "It must be someone's
fault and we will not be quiet until we find someone to blame and that person is punished."
The term "racist" is often code for someone who has challenged ethnic ideologies and often says politically incorrect statements that
concern race. An "activist" is often code for a highly motivated leader of a racially charged lynching mob.
We have seen over the years such classic political battles embroiled in code speech. For instance, someone who is in favor of abortion
is said to be "pro choice" while someone who is against abortion is labeled as "pro life." "Equal rights" are not always about equality
but often signify pay back for past sins. "Freedom of speech" does not mean that you are free to speak your mind. We have a very regulated
culture where your phone conversations, internet use or personal conversations could result in your arrest. "Freedom of speech" is
code for "Be careful of what you say."
If that is not enough, the popular slogan "Innocent
until proven guilty" has very little relevance. You are always "guilty" until you can prove your innocence. The fact that a police
officer is asking you for your identification or arresting you is because the officer has "reasonable suspicion" about you committing
a crime. You must go along with the guilty label until you are able to prove your innocence. If the court of law is not enough, many
people are tried and convicted through the media and through the court of public opinion and have very little opportunity to prove
their innocence. "Innocent until proven guilty" is just code speak for "You are busted; now it is your turn to convince us why you
It is saddening to notice how low our culture has sunken as our labeling
and code speak have prevailed. Modern day governments, churches, corporations, clubs, sports teams, media outlets and other entities
often have propaganda departments, spin departments and even "misinformation departments" that create confusing and misleading dialog.
When do we start speaking the truth and having an honest discussion?