Words mat­ter

Vocable (Anglais) - - À La Une Politique -

The an­gry white men who congre­ga­ted in Charlottesville last month were wi­de­ly des­cri­bed as “Na­zis”, a usage for which there are ar­gu­ments both for and against. On the one hand, these people love swas­ti­kas, chant things like “blood and soil”, and hate Jews and black people, which de­fi­ni­te­ly seems pret­ty Na­zi. On the other hand, to call them “Na­zis” is a conve­nient “othe­ring” that re­fuses to ack­now­ledge their iden­ti­ty as Ame­ri­cans, stan­ding in the US’s own proud tra­di­tion of violent ra­cism that in­cludes for example the Ku Klux Klan. The un­for­tu­nate truth is that na­zism does not ex­haust the scope of pos­sible hu­man evil.

What, then, about “white na­tio­na­lists” or “white su­pre­ma­cists”? Such terms cer­tain­ly seem more co­ol­ly ana­ly­ti­cal than “fas­cists” or “Na­zis”, though it might be seen as a pro­blem that they both contain the word “white”, and so im­pli­cit­ly ac­quiesce in the un­der­lying idea that skin co­lour is real­ly im­por­tant. And “white su­pre­ma­cist” it­self (from 1896) was for­med from the ear­lier phrase “white su­pre­ma­cy” (1824), and thus car­ries wi­thin it the exact noxious ideo­lo­gy that op­po­nents wish to de­nounce.

to congre­gate se réunir / swas­ti­ka croix gam­mée / to chant scan­der / blood and soil slo­gan na­zi (Blut und Bo­den, "le sang et le sol") / pret­ty as­sez / conve­nient com­mode / othe­ring stig­ma­ti­sa­tion d'au­trui / to ack­now­ledge re­con­naître / un­for­tu­nate truth triste vé­ri­té / to ex­haust épui­ser / scope champ, por­tée.

co­ol­ly froi­de­ment / un­der­lying sous-ja­cent / phrase ex­pres­sion / noxious no­cif, dé­lé­tère.

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