One of the disgusting features of the U.S. effort to provoke conflict with Iran is the widespread use of the euphemism “take him out” instead of “kill” or “assassinate” to characterize the death of General Qasem Soleimani. Those Americans who employ it include not just Trump acolytes, but politicians from both parties, TV reporters, and others who should know better.
Just yesterday evening, the top anchor at the CBS Evening News, Norah O’Donnell, used it in an interview with Vice President Mike Pence. Vox uses it. NPR does. Evan Osnos of the New Yorker says it, and so does Terry Gross, on “Fresh Air.” Democrats do it. And Republicans.
The euphemism has an ugly history. In the late 1970s I reported from Rhodesia, the white minority-ruled nation in southern Africa that eventually won independence as Zimbabwe. Back then, the young white “troopies” who waged a bitter 7-year fight against the national liberation movement regularly boasted of “taking out” the black guerrillas who opposed them. From there, the euphemism migrated, possibly spread by war correspondents who like to talk tough, and today you hear it everywhere in connection with Iran.
Most obviously, “take him out” is used by people who are either too squeamish or too biased to admit that what the United States did was “kill” someone. But the euphemism has an additional implied meaning, an arrogant swagger. You are really saying that the people your government kills are not fully human.