in the garden

 

Dec 2002 Journal

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Literati debase 4-letter word

A generation ago Ken Tynan caused outrage by uttering the F-word on air. What really shocks now is the indiscriminate use of the N-word – an expletive so obscene that I hesitated before writing its initial. Just as an adult would be taken aback to hear the F-word bandied about in a children’s nursery, so I am quite staggered to hear the N-word trip lightly off the tongue of fastidious literati.

Louis de Bernières, whose depiction of the Wehrmacht’s Cephalonia massacre in Captain Corelli’s Mandolin showed a perfect grasp of the Hitlerian mindset, has now joined Tom Paulin in tarring Israel with the Nazi brush.

One would have expected practitioners of the writer’s craft to be more fastidious in their use of loaded words. Let us just measure the enormities ascribed to Israel against some incontrovertible results of Nazi rule. By the end of Hitler’s War, Europe’s Jews had been all but exterminated. Russia mourned 20 million (and Yugoslavia two million) dead, while a quarter of a million Dutch had been deliberately starved to death. During a half-century of Israel’s intermittent war with Arabs and Palestinians the overall number of the latter – in Israel, the territories and neighbouring countries – has shown a fivefold increase. Admittedly, there has also been a contemporaneous quadrupling of Israel’s Jewish citizenry, but this owed far less to natural population growth than to mass immigration originally from Arab countries hell-bent on becoming judenrein.

Since neither Tom Paulin nor Louis de Bernières subscribes to AJR Journal, they will, alas, not clap eyes on this badly needed corrective to their loose use of language (unless, of course, some public-spirited reader e-mails them).
Richard Grunberger

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