ModernityBlog

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Words Matter.

with 2 comments

Thanks to Bob for directing me towards a piece on the JC by Jennifer Lipman, here’s the concluding bit:

“Why cause a fuss.

Here’s why. Let’s look at where Mr Greenslade made the comment – in a blogpost condemning the intolerance and bigotry of the EDL.

An informed reader might well have recognised the wider point – that Jewish people, given the history of the last century, should be at the frontline in the fight against fascism.

It’s an important and logical argument. But here’s the thing. As the famous quote goes: “Those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it.”

History teaches us as Jews not only to stand up in the battle against bigotry, but also that bigots don’t always read newspaper articles in an informed way.

The generations of ordinary people who hated the Jews did so not least because of the ugly and cheap stereotypes peddled by respected writers and commentators.

They learnt intolerance from the politicians – in Tsarist Russia to Nazi Germany and beyond – who blamed public woes on Jewish conspiracies, from the caricaturists who saw in Jews an easy target, and from journalists who didn’t recognize, or didn’t care to recognise, the power of their words.

Words matter. As Greenslade knows (and blogs about regularly), especially online they have a life beyond themselves.

A throwaway headline in the Daily Star can become another tool in the EDL’s war-chest, regardless of what the story actually was.

A news article about a “Muslim’s” actions – when religion is of little relevance to the story – is fodder for the bigot’s cause.

And an unnecessary line about Jews having “negative views” about Muslims, from an informed and respected writer, is yet another piece of evidence for the antisemitic extremist as to why he hates Jews.
Words always matter. “

Written by modernityblog

11/02/2011 at 21:23

2 Responses

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  1. Words always matter.

    In the execrable Evening Standard last week, I read a piece about a delinquent family living on housing benefit in a beautiful house. The ethnic or religious group of the family was totally irrelevant but the Standard dropped it in anyway – as Jennifer Lipman puts it – another reason to hate this particular group.

    (I should say, also in the Standard was a fantastic piece on multiculturalism from Sam Leith: http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23920984-you-cant-force-britishness-on-everyone-dave.do

    Flesh

    17/02/2011 at 14:26

  2. Agreed, an enforced nationalist agenda or identity is not really acceptable in the 21st century.

    modernityblog

    18/02/2011 at 00:52


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