ty, much less deal with it, is the complete distortion of thenmeanings of words. Semantic infiltration is the introduction ofnnew terminology which conveys not only a meaning but also annemotional impact designed to further the opinion-maker’snideology. The most common example is the use of the wordn”gay” to designate homosexuals, thus presenting them in anmore favorable light. (The mass media did not invent thisnterm, but without their acceptance and continuous use of it,n”gay” would never have become widely used.) The use of thisnlighthearted friendly word, with its Wealth of happy associations,nto describe sexual deviation may well go down in historynas a masterstroke of brainwashing, American-style. Semanticninfiltration can also occur at several levels simultaneously, asnwhen in the academe homosexuality is described as “sexualnpreference.”nFor some purposes—usually unpopular ones—it is necessarynfor the brainwashers to introduce terms which have neithernemotional impact nor even any intelligible meaning. One finenexample of this is the invention of the term “affirmativenaction” to desaibe approved iotvas of racial discrimination. Yetnanother brainwashing technique is the redefinition of termsneither to narrow or to expand their meaning in order to blurntraditional distinctions. An admirably clever example of this,none well adapted to seizing the moral high ground in anyndebate, was the renaming of the Department of Health, Educationnand Welfare. Welfare had become a worn-out word,nladen with all sorts of unpleasant connotations, so the bureaucratsnrenamed their department “Health and Human Services”n—ingeniously implying that their organization, evidentlynalone in the government, was performing “human services.”nOn the whole, however, it is the mass media that can bencounted on to be the champions at this particular game, and anfavorite play is to inflate the meanings of words. “Execution,”nfor example, has been deprived of its association with legalncapital punishment; when someone is murdered by terrorists orngangsters, the media ofiien describes this as an execution—atnone stroke public outrage at the crime is softened and the ideanof capital punishment is subtly discredited. Words like “militant,”n”guerrilla,” and “ghetto” have been deprived of anythingnresembling their original meanings. “Guerrilla”—oncenused to designate irregular military forces—now is applied tonany terrorist, and even to regular military forces occupying anforeign country. The word “ghetto” is now so broadly appliednthat the whole history and nature of relations between ethnicngroups in our country has been hopelessly obfuscated.nA he principal aim of American brainwashing is to distortnour sense of reality by destroying the English language as it hasnnormally been understood and to substitute a set of conditionednresponses for memory. Its effectiveness is beyond questionn. The atmosphere in which public discourse is conducted innthe United States has already markedly deteriorated, and it willnBRAINWASHING IN AMERICA •nSocial RcjjisternAs metaphor, “Vanity Fair” < omcs from Pilgrim’s Progress,nwhere it stands for the sinful rapacity of eanhiy aspirations.nAs the title of Thackaray’s novel. it becomes a refinedncondemnation of the torments of greed and .sophi.sticatednsnobbcties. As the title of a celebrated publication of theniy2()’s, F^»//)’/•>/>• meant what ~.nit was: a trading mart for cafesocietyngossip, interspersednwith.somcgood wnting by peoplenof letters who were endowednwith a knack lor lightnpenmanship and a taste for thenminor joys of life; plenty ofnvainglory and jniotir-proprvnlloatcd through its pages, atidnboth the ethics and the vici.ssiludcsnof social climbing werennfiny ^ntreated seriously. -‘/nWe are about to witne.ss thenrebirth of Vanity Vairss a mag- ,,..nazinc, revived by those mastersnof cultural inaquillage, tlienarchcosnieiicians ol sot ial mendacity,nrhe supcrdcrmatologistsnoi psychic acne—Condc N’asinPublications. The liberal pressnis already running promotionalnads. one of which .sports pop-litterateur John Iring in anwrestler’s costume: apparently that garp is supposed tondefine what the new Vanity /v/^will be all about—protrudingnmascLilinity. Mr. lr’ing looks less like a wrestler andnmore like a f:ishion model (or Cireco-Roman athletics: thenbody covered with fake perspiration, firm dererminarion onnhis face, under a coiffure meticulously arranged to feign anposrfighi disarray. Which convinces us that the forthcomingnVanity FairwiW provide sustenance for the self-admirationnof the lowbrow, and that the distinction between vanity andndi.stount narci.ssi.sm is not ver- cle;ir to its publishers andneditors.ncontinue to do so unless something is done. With thisndeterioration, the disintegrative forces in our society will continuento prosper. It is for our language that we are fighting—nwhich means, in the end, that we are defending our brains andnour very lives.n—Alan J. LevinenDr. Levine is a historian in New York.nnn»)n^ovemberl98Sn