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    What the Well-Dressed Terrorist Is Wearing

    terrorist_suit.jpgQuote: “They are just terrorists in suits.”  Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh, after the Israeli military arrested the Palestinian education minister along with two mayors and 30 other officials.

    Figure of Speech: tapinosis (tap-in-O-sis), the abusive shrinking figure.  From the Greek, meaning “demeaning.”

    The officials in question are members of Hamas, a group that believes Israel should not exist.  The awkward thing is that these officials were duly elected.  Israel’s No. 2 military man takes care of that problem rhetorically, with a tapinosis.  A form of meiosis, the tapinosis abuses a person or thing by making it seem smaller.  These aren’t statesmen and women, they’re terrorists in statesmen’s clothing.

    It’s a powerful figure, that tapinosis — a kind of shrinking gun.  Be careful where you aim it.

    Snappy Answer:  “And you’re just a suit.”

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    Reader Comments (8)

    And in fact these people have probably never fired a gun in their lives. What makes them "terrorists"?
    May 24, 2007 | Unregistered Commenteryaman
    Hmm, good question. It shows you the power of the political label. But if a group supports terrorism, or directs it, does that make it a terrorist group?
    May 24, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro
    When I first read your quotation, I thought it was Sneh who was being described for arresting the duly elected officials!
    May 25, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMari
    That raises an interesting rhetorical point: the audience often associates the words with the speaker, even if those words are directed at someone else. Beware of tarring someone; a bit of tar might land on yourself.
    May 25, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro
    Interesting, and I liked the link to meiosis. But is this actually "shrinking"? Or is it a kind of abusive metonymy? "Terrorists in ties" I could see as shrinking. But a suit actually is larger than a man in the sense that it encloses him.
    May 25, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterNathan
    It's not the suits that create the meiosis, but the terrorists. The quote downgrades the statesmen--demotes them, you might say.
    May 25, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro
    Still not clear what the diff is between a tapinosis and a meiosis.
    May 25, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterRidger
    The tapinosis is the meaner demeaner. When the Black Knight says his missing limbs are "just a scratch," that's a meiosis. When a government official gets labeled a terrorist, that's a tapinosis.
    May 25, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro

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