Wrote Maureen Dowd in 2014, quoted by me in this blog post, which I'm reading today because I created the tag "sacrifice" yesterday and added it to 200+ old posts so I could see how the word — so important in American presidential politics right now — has been used over the past dozen years.
Here's a more recent example of the use of the word "sacrifice," from June 8th of this yea:
"The first time in our nation's history that a woman will be a major party's nominee.""Sacrifice," as I was saying yesterday, simply means giving up something of value to obtain something of higher value. You sacrifice because you think you'll be better off in the long run. In ancient times, a lamb might be burnt up instead of eaten out of a hope of winning blessings from God. In common modern parlance, parents sacrifice so that their offspring will have a good start in life, conceptualized as a benefit for the family the parents would like to see prosper.
Said Hillary Clinton, last night, proclaiming her individual historicity and immediately including everyone else:
Tonight's victory is not about one person.
It belongs to generations of women and men who struggled and sacrificed and made this moment possible....
It's one thing for a person to decide to sacrifice, to give up X for Y, but quite another for someone in the political arena to call what somebody else did a sacrifice. That's rhetoric, propaganda, and we need to analyze not what the person doing the sacrificing hoped to gain, but what the person using the word is trying to do to the minds of those who are listening. If a political orator says that the war dead sacrificed their lives, we should contemplate what the speaker hopes to gain. It's no sacrifice to say "sacrifice"! It's a way to elevate the loss and ease the pain, perhaps, or, ignobly, to distract us from the line of responsibility that traces back to our political and military leaders.
And we may very well be distracted, because there is social pressure to stop all other thinking and honor the war dead and empathize with their families. That's built into the power of the propaganda. We're getting some stern discipline this week — as Trump is pilloried for failing to perform the usual honor ritual. Never, ever, do anything but stop, honor, and empathize. Submit to the pressure or become a social outcast like Trump.
Now, back to my 2 examples above. The word "sacrifice" is used as other people take losses so that Hillary Clinton may gain. The Dowd quote is sarcastic, and the person who loses — Monica — is not choosing to take a loss. She's more in the position of the lamb in the old burnt-offerings scenario. In the June quote, Hillary is pointing at hordes of people and declaring them to have sacrificed for "for the greater good of the Clintons and feminist ambitions." Funny how the sarcastic Dowd language slots right into Hillary's own rhetoric.