Exactly What Does “Stand Down” Mean?

While we’re certain that the phrase “stand down,” which we hear with unaccustomed frequency in reference to our someday departure from Iraq, has a long and venerable history, we still cannot help but be niggled by what appears to us the apparent illogic of the postural invocation.

While we are not certain about the general experience of the human race, we are at least in regard to ourselves, pretty well convinced that the idea of “stand” is strikingly at variance with the positional adjustment required to achieve the state of being “down.”

Although we may be a bit perverse in our preference or conditioning, it seems to us that when we “stand,” we greatly increase the likelihood that we will more nearly approximate the position usually described as “up.”

We certainly understand that there is perhaps a subtle resistance in the military and the White House to associate our adjustments to military and diplomatic events with any term that so flagrantly flirts with the negative connotations that lurk within the word “down.” Yet it still seems to us that logic is on our side and that it would not be irreparably incriminating to refer to the adjustment in terms of our departure from Iraq as “standing aside,” while we allow the Iraqi army to “stand up.”

If we’re being entirely unreasonable here, we apologize, but our sense of postural propriety tends to intrude from time to time on our capacity to be deaf to its more flagrant abuses.

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