Tag Archives: Iran hostage crisis

Pet peeve: George Will resurects an old fake favorite

Count on George Will to build an entire column on a cheap half truth. I used to enjoy his columns but in recent years he’s turned bitter. And careless of how he used language and history. He’s got his underwear in a know again.

A few years back, according to the GOP punditocracy, Obama’s chief of staff spoke terrifying words! He said “we should never waste a crisis”. This of course, meant the sheets had to be pulled off the fainting couches yet again.

Crisi-tunity.pngNot only was his comment not new, it has been the conventional wisdom for hundred of years; the Chinese use the same character for ‘crisis’ and ‘opportunity’.  Seen below “the use has been adopted by business leaders and motivational speakers’. Because it’s true.

Benjamin Zimmer has traced the history of weiji in English as far back as anonymous editorial in a journal[2] for missionaries in China.[3] The use of the term probably gained momentum when John F. Kennedy delivered a speech in Indianapolis on April 12, 1959:[3]

When written in Chinese the word crisis is composed of two characters.
One represents danger, and the other represents opportunity.[4]

Kennedy employed this trope routinely in his speeches, and it was then appropriated by Richard M. Nixon and others. The usage has been adopted by business consultants and motivational speakers and has gained great popularity in universities and in the popular press. For example, in 2007, Condoleezza Rice used the meme during Middle East peace talks,[5] and Al Gore did so both in testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee,[6] and in his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance lecture.[7]

Dear Elvis, do we never learn from history?

As the Islamists of 1979 were overthrowing their government, Jimmy Carter opened the door to a terrified Shah, citing ‘legitimate medical reasons’.  There was political pressure from the Right to do so as Iran had been a US client state since our CIA (with the Brits) overthrew the last democratically elected Iranian government in 1953.

It went so well that irate Iranian students stormed the US Embassy in Tehran and took 52 Americans hostage, holding them for 444 days.

Now the president of Yemen,  Ali Abdullah Saleh, is being admitted – for ‘legitimate medical reasons’. (The link doesn’t confirm that the decision has been made, but The NY Times says it’s a done deal.)

As Peter, Paul and Mary asked so many years ago, “When will we ever learn, when will we ever learn?”.