Writer William Safire is no stranger to general semantics. The author of the “On Language” column for the New York Times Magazine for decades, in his April 12, 2009 entry (p. 14) makes reference to Alfred Korzybski in discussing the new secretary of homeland security Janet Napolitano’s use of the euphemism man-caused disaster in place of terrorism.
Noting that “Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan commented: ‘Ah. Well, this is only a nuance, but her use of language is a man-caused disaster,'” Safire went on to remark that, “Noonan makes an excellent point of light: a word is not the thing itself. (That was the message of the general semanticist Alfred Korzybski, famous for ‘a map is not the territory.’) Renaming terrorism ‘man-caused disaster’ does not begin to deal with the real thing that is terrorism.”
Politics aside, we salute Bill Safire for his consciousness of abstracting!