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  • Words and Phrases I Dislike: “Humanitarian Crisis”

    Posted by David Foster on July 15th, 2014 (All posts by )

    It’s all over the media, almost all the time, and a pretty weird phrase, if you think about it.  Actually, the flood or hurricane or earthquake or war or refugee crisis isn’t first and foremost a crisis for humanitarians.  The crisis may impose some additional stress on humanitarian organizations that are trying to help  (or at least to attract contributions), but the floor or hurricane or whatever is primarily a crisis for its victims.

    It is a very narcissistic way of talking/thinking about things, and I’m afraid the almost universal employment of this phrase says something about out society.


    6 Responses to “Words and Phrases I Dislike: “Humanitarian Crisis””

    1. Jonathan Says:

      Good point.

    2. dearieme Says:

      Moreover, some of them aren’t crises but rather chronic conditions.

    3. Death 6 Says:

      Decoder ring for progressive code reveals:

      Humanitarian- social welfare/social justice action opportunity based on group wealth being below average for a developed nation.

      Crisis- any activity or situation highlighted by popular media as an obligation to be addressed by primarily government spending or decisions, often the result of prior government spending or decisions and usually resulting in higher levels of government spending and decision making.

      So in this case this is truly a Humanitarian Crisis (as popularly understood) since this is an opportunity for income redistribution with media urging government action to address a situation with spending and decision making that was largely created by prior government spending and decision making and will predictably lead to higher levels of government spending, decision making and Humanitarian Crisis situations in the future.


    4. Jonathan Says:

      While we’re at it:

      fair trade
      reach out [i.e., to contact]
      I hear you

    5. dearieme Says:

      The old Scottish use of “I hear you” means something like “I understand your argument but remain unpersuaded”. I take it that isn’t the use you dislike, Jonathan?

    6. Jonathan Says:

      Something similar. I find it often means: “I assumed when I initiated this conversation that you would agree with me. Now that you have taken time to listen and put some thought into a critical response, I would rather shut down the discussion than explain my position.”

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