While military metaphors are quite common in everyday language, Brendan Larson argues in his article The War of the Roses: Demilitarizing invasion biology that these metaphors are actually detrimental to the reputation of invasive species. Larson argues that, because of the copious use of militaristic metaphors, many authors can inadvertently discredit an invasive species as being an “enemy” just because it is invasive. Furthermore, he argues that scientists have the tendency to go overboard with their literary militarism for the sole reason of gaining public support to obtain funding.
An example of militaristic metaphors used to describe invasive species is seen in Lisa Foderardo’s New York Times article “Battling a Nasty Green Invader from the Deep”. In it, Foderardo describes one man who is opposed to the spread of the Eurasian watermilfoil as “on the front lines of the fight against an invasive species”. This metaphor is clearly militaristic because it describes milfoil as an enemy that is dangerous and must be destroyed (Foderaro 2007).
While it is certainly valid to say that militaristic metaphors can harm the reputation of invasive species, it is also quite a stretch. Bashing military metaphors for making something sound like an enemy is like bashing cooking metaphors for making things sound like they are food. The fact of the matter is that a metaphor is something that compares one thing to another thing in order to make a point. It is not necessarily the intent to completely bash one type of literary style because it makes invasive species look bad, because the underlying purpose of the metaphor is to show that there is a problem. Additionally, I do not see why it is so unheard of to classify an invasive species as “bad” in the first place. I feel like it is fairly obvious that no creature is intrinsically “evil” and no type of metaphor is capable of convincing any educated person otherwise. Finally, the fact of the matter is that invasive species are animals and their feelings are not getting hurt by authors bad-mouthing them. I feel that defending them so passionately is a little ridiculous because the fact of the matter is that they are not native to the environments they are introduced to and are causing a problem, ergo speaking out against them is necessary.
Larson, BMH. 2005. The war of the roses: demilitarizing invasion biology. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 3: 495-500.
Foderaro W. L. 2010. Battling a Nasty Green Invader from the Deep. New York Times