Tuesday 26 March 2013

Pejorative Labelling – It Matters

As Rod Liddle explains:

Very good report from Channel Four/Telegraph reporter Alex Thomson in Syria. This is about the use of ‘chemical weapons’ by one side in the civil war. Except, it seems, there are not simply two sides in the civil war any more. First the Brit journos stopped calling it an ‘Arab Spring’, given that the rebels in all these Arab countries have been doing unSpringlike things. And now, it seems, there is a brave and noble rebel force – and also something different called ‘Jihadis’. ‘Finger points at Jihadis over chemical attack’ was the Telegraph headline. Who they, ed? The suggestions seems to be that these mysterious ‘jihadis’ are somehow separate from the rebel forces, that the rest of them are not Jihadis at all, but consensual social democrats with a very strong line on hate crimes, especially homophobia. But that’s not how it is, is it? It never has been. The rebels have used ‘chemical weapons’, and there’s an end to it. This nomenclature stuff is important, it is the means by which we delude ourselves.

But then again, to be fair, ‘chemical weapons’? More deceptive nomenclature. What these ‘Jihadis’ used was CL17, a chlorinate swimming pool cleaner. Not VX, not Tabun or Sarin. Not even Yperite or Phosgene. We work ourselves up about ‘chemical weapons’ because they are part of another deluding bit of labelling – ‘weapons of mass destruction’. In this case, the gas attack killed 26 people – which is horrible, of course. But far, far, more could have been killed by the sorts of powerful incendiaries possessed by western armed forces, weapons which are not considered to be of ‘mass destruction’. That, again, was the labelling we used to begin a war against Iraq. And the Iraqis were deemed to possess only the PRECURSORS for these WMD. So do I, in my garden shed. So does my local council, with its swimming pool cleaner. Keep an eye on this sort of stuff, this pejorative labelling – it matters.

No comments:

Post a Comment