SW7: Militaristic Literature
Problems That Are Not Always Battles
Larson (2005) articulates his opinion regarding the excessive and perhaps unwarranted use of militaristic language when discussing invasive species. The aggressive frame of mind that articles create can pose long-term consequences in slowing the spread of invasive species. Larson (2005) believes that using words such as “… beachhead, battle, kill, eradicate, overrun, [and] explode” (Baskin 2002) can contribute to common misconceptions about a species and the methods being put forth to help solve the problem. Larson (2005) even ventures to say that the metaphors to strategy and war can be counterproductive because they only temporarily motivate readers to action rather than taking a slower, long-term approach to the issues at hand.
In The Lakeland Times, militaristic language is utilized to reveal the dramatic effects of Eurasian watermilfoil on the Minocqua and Kawaguesaga lake ecosystem. The title alone, “Battle against Eurasian Watermilfoil Continues”, introduces this invasive species as one that is aggressive and engaged in war against people and the environment. The reader is also exposed to language that creates an “us vs. them” mentality. For instance, author Rachel White writes that “[MKLPA] has been charging on with their fight against Eurasian watermilfoil (EWM) this summer…” (White 2010). This may cause readers to avoid working with the species, and instead, may try to eliminate the invader altogether, which may or may not be the most effective or sustainable approach.
I believe that militaristic language is necessary in order to reach the readers, but only if attainable solutions can be made. Otherwise, the use of such metaphors can seem overused and result in negative long-term effects. For instance, White (2010) articulates that, “Patience and focus are key to fighting the battle against EWM.” In this instance, I do not think that militaristic language is the most effective form of rhetoric because this article proposes no immediate action. If time and energy are the key elements of eliminating the spread of this specie, then the use of aggressive, war-like language is superfluous. Even if the readers are compelled to act because of the drastic and overwhelming effects that this exotic species has on the lake’s ecosystem, the article provides little room for he or she to act on it. In effect, readers may become immune to such militaristic approaches in literary articles that actually have a purpose and therefore need to excite the readers. Larson’s (2005) argument can therefore be read in two ways. First, that militaristic language can excite the reader. And secondly, that the excitement can be either beneficial or detrimental to the cause depending on the context and specific variables of invasive species and the articles that describe them.
White, Rachel. 3 September 2010. “Battle against Eurasian watermilfoil continues by MKLPA.” The Lakeland Times. 11 October 2010. <http://www.lakelandtimes.com/main.asp?SectionID=13&SubSectionID=13&ArticleID=11864>.
Larson, B.M.H. 2005. The war of the roses: demilitarizing invasion biology. Frontiers in Ecology and Environment 3: 495-500.
You present a good summary of Larson’s arguments and a very effective example of the militaristic language that he is talking about. I got a little confused while reading your final paragraph, but when I reread it it made more sense, so I think you could just organize it a bit more effectively. I think the further example in the middle of the final paragraph makes it a little confusing, although it is another good example!