Wednesday, May 26, 2004

The War on Terror

"You stop being scared or I'll give you something to be scared about!" That's a war on terror. What people are generally talking about is a war on terrorism.


grammarhammer said...

Hallelujah! I can now take "terror attacks" off my this-looks-totally-weird-to-me-but-no-one-else-is-questioning-it-so-it-must-be-OK list. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

How can you wage a war on "terrorism"? You wage war on *terrorists*

Bill said...

Ah, yes. Like Lyndon Johnson's war on the impoverished!

Key said...

I'd like to add my thanks to the lot. This has driven me crazy for some time--in fact, I e-mailed you about it right after the war began. I thought you didn't reply because you either didn't agree or you were afraid that I was being a lazy copy editor (my address was, but I was in fact a lowly presentation designer with too many language usage opinions for my own good, and I'm no longer there).

Anyway, the closest I got by way of this topic being addressed in a public forum was Jon Stewart's commencement speech at William and Mary. The crack about the war, and how "terror isn't even a noun, so good luck with that" (quoting from memory). But terror is a noun, and I think he missed the terminology problem.

So thanks for nailing it. I can breathe a little easier every time I hear "War on Terror" on the news (roughly once every 3.6 minutes).

Key said...

Found the quote:

"We declared war on terror. We declared war on terror—it’s not even a noun, so, good luck. After we defeat it, I’m sure we’ll take on that bastard ennui."

I mean, it's funny, but it's incorrect.