Friday, July 18, 2014

Good piece - Why Good Societies Stigmatize Anti-Semitic Language

Why Good Societies Stigmatize Anti-Semitic Language
by Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry

Never heard of the journal or the author before, so I don't know if he's a loony... The piece starts slow and not so deep, but he hits his stride in the middle to the end and it is excellent. This line especially:
Taboos against using certain language against certain groups is always tied to the violence that has been exercised against these groups, because the language is seen, quite reasonably, as both symbolizing and facilitating that violence.

This is also good:
[The Holocaust] is unique, first of all, because it is unprecedented. The Holocaust was the first time that a genocide was designed and executed in a complete, systematic fashion, using scientific, innovative means of destruction. Its goals were universal. It mobilized all of the authorities, civil and military, of the regime, and indeed the whole society. The Armenian genocide sought to kill all Armenians in Turkey, not all Armenians on the planet. The Rwandan genocide did not deploy new founts of human ingenuity to the end of efficient, total massacre. While Communism killed more people, and was occasionally an instrument of racist (indeed, anti-Semitic) violence, its motivating principle was not the extermination of a certain group of people because of who they were. While slavery in the American South was fundamentally racist like Nazism, slavery was not a historically unprecedented event—indeed, slavery is present in the history of every civilization—nor was its goal genocide.

This combination of factors—fundamental racism, unprecedentedness, universality, scientificness, hellish ingenuity, totality of execution—is why the Holocaust justly stands in our collective imagination as unique among all instances of human evil.
A good read, and a good job.

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