Politics and the English Language, redux1
From the ideas dept, except I actually care about this one, and it isn’t stupid. Like Christopher Hitchens, Noam Chomsky and all the best people, I am “a great admirer of George Orwell”. Nine times out of ten, of course, when people tell you that they admire Orwell, what they mean is two things;
- they think they’ve found a way of twisting something he wrote so that it supports their own political views, and
- they’re proud of the fact that they’re the worst kind of pompous, annoying pedantic wanker about “Correct English Usage”.
That’s exactly how it is with me, anyway. I know just enough about Orwell to patronise American high school students on the Internet for only having read “1984”, and have no plans to learn any more.
So anyway, where was I … oh yeh, I’m a great admirer of George Orwell, and I think that if he were alive today, he would have some pretty trenchant views on the situation in the Middle East, and that, by chance, those views would coincide with my own. Christ, Hitchens makes this look so much more seamless when he does it…
Anyway, I’m a great admirer of George Orwell, and because of this, I really am in despair over the fact that, in more or less exactly the way he described in “Politics and the English Language”, the battle of words with regard to the political future of the territory located around 31 30 N, 34 45 E has been so violent that … well, that more or less the only way to refer to the geographical territory without marking yourself out as favouring one side or the other is by latitude and longitude. But I’m not here to fight that battle, or even to start discussing the massive misuses of language and the plethora of code-words on both sides. I’m here to make one particular suggestion to my own side; non-Israeli, Gentile, left-wing critics of the government of the State of Israel:
Let’s just stop using the words “Israeli” and “Zionist” and replace them with “Likudist”.
The battle over “it’s possible to criticise Israelis without being anti-Semitic” and the battle over “not all Jews are Zionists, you know”, has been either lost, or ground out to a bloody standstill, and the territory isn’t worth fighting over. “Likudist” has the advantage of a more precise, laser-like focus on Ariel Sharon and his gang, and it isn’t easily confused with “all citizens of the State of Israel” and thence on to “The Jews”. It might not be strictly accurate in that I don’t know which of the policies of the Israelis are specifically identified with Likud, but my guess is that anyone well-informed enough to be able to quibble about that will also be perfectly well aware of the reason why you can’t use “Zionist” and “Israeli” in contexts where it would be natural to do so. At least this way it might be possible to gain some respite from what appear to me to be a lot of entirely disingenuous accusations of anti-Semitism, and perhaps to slightly retard the hellward progess of the handbasket carrying the English language.
Anyway, it’s just an idea. Give it a try if you think it might make sense. In related news, isn’t the Dalai Lama a bastard? He’s always going on and on about the bloody Chinese in Tibet. Why does he single them out as being so terrible when there are things just as bad going on in Israel? Bloody Sinophobe.
1What the hell does “redux” mean, anyway? I just picked it up because they use it all the time on “Slate.com” and I thought it looked cool. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it anywhere else.