Iago and “Let’s be clear”

There is an excellent column from Ed Smith in this week’s New Statesman.

His central thesis is that people (very often politicians) talking or writing simply often have messages that are, deliberately, saying something that is anything but simple.

As Smith notes of political spin:

It aspires to replace awkward complexities with catchy simplicity. Successful spin does not leave the effect of skillful persuasiveness; it creates the impression of unavoidable common sense.

Indeed it does. Many is the time a radio interview or newspaper article frustrates the heck out of me for the way they try to reduce a complex policy or political issue to a line or two.

Smith rightly calls on Shakespeare to re-emphasize the point, reminding us that Iago

is often seen as an honest and blunt man… [He] is believed because he seems to talk in simple truths.

But as Iago himself mentions, and as it’s always worth keeping in mind when a complex issue is presented by someone as a case of “common sense”:

I am not what I am.


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Man of letters & numbers; also occasionally of action. Husband to NTW. Dad of three. Friendly geek.

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