This morning, as I was catching-up on news headlines, I watched this report by NBC's Richard Engel, from his interview with America's top soldier in Iraq.
"At a graduation for 1,830 goose-stepping police cadets, U.S. General David Patraeus saw encouraging signs," Engel reported, going on to note the mixed Sunni/Shiite make-up of the graduating class, increased stability in more Baghdad neighborhoods, and other encouraging signs in this war-torn country.
What caught my attention, in particular, was Engel's choice of the word "goose-stepping" ..... In this entry, Wikipedia describes goose-step as a distinctive style of marching in which the troops "swing their legs from a vertical leg to a nearly horizontally-extending one, bringing it down with a loud simultaneous stepping noise and continuing the cycle in unison." It should be noted, this was NOT the style of marching shown in the video of the graduation ceremony that accompanied Engel's report.
So, what's the big deal? ... Quick ..... think of troops that goose-step! You may come up with the photo Wikipedia uses to illustrate the style ..... soldiers of the German Werhmacht marching through Warsaw at the start of World War II. Immediately beneath that is a more recent photo of Russian troops in Moscow, on ceremonial parade outside the Kremlin.
You can probably recall use of the phrase 'goose-stepping' - in a book or magazine, a newspaper article or column, a film or television script, whatever - to describe the actions of a group in a derogatory manner, to conjure images of Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, and to relate said group to those images.
At the start of the report, the use of such a word, and the images it conjures, detracts from the rest of the report ..... I don't aspire to reach the heights Engel has in our profession, but I still think he could have done a better job in choosing his words.