Tag Archives: Saddam Hussein

Why don’t metaphorical hawks kill metaphorical doves?

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An Iraqi woman looks on as U.S. Army Soldiers ...

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A very common metaphor in the political discourse on war is that of doves (peaceniks) and hawks (war-mongers). It has been around at least since the cold war. But it stops at “doves=peaceful” and “hawks=aggressive”. It completely ignores other properties of the animals, e.g. the fact that “hawks hunt and kill doves”. I did a lot of searching a could not find any such extensions of the metaphor.

This is relatively unusual. Most metaphors in public discourse get dissected every which way. Look at “Iraq=Vietnam”, “Saddam=Hitler”, “Current financial crisis=X other financial crisis”. All of these were dissected and very inventively reassembled mapping by mapping. E.g. If Saddam is Hitler then we can choose between being France or Britain. If Iraq is Vietnam than we must count the wounded as dead and must look for media swaying public opinion. Etc. Etc.  We might argue that doves adn hawks are relatively dead metaphors but Palin’s crosshairs got dissected in minute detail and “having somebody in your cross hairs” no more implies that you’re going to shoot them than does being a dove imply you have wings.

So why didn’t anybody in the contentious debate over the Iraq war come up with this obvious extension of the “doves/hawks=democrats/republicans” metaphor? I would expect at least something along the lines of “the hawks went fiercely after the doves and tore them to shreds in the elections”. But there’s nothing. So, what gives?

I also posted this question (in a slightly shorter form) on Quora: http://qr.ae/c3td

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