Friday, December 5, 2008

Eugenics-Terrorists-Nazis- and Hyperbole

In general, some people bandy about certain terms with a lot of impudence. Terms like “Nazi”, Eugenics”, Terrorists”, are rather loaded (and loathed) terms. These words carry a history with them. This history leads to an emotional reaction on part of the listeners. Thus, these words have a strong power to influence people. Let’s look at a few:

Nazi- This word has been so over-used, that it maybe even doesn’t have such an emotional effect already. It always makes me cringe when people use this term blatantly for anything other than mass-murder of human beings in cold blood. Whether it is Arabs talking about the Israeli army, or settlers talking about evacuation of the settlements, to call these troops “Nazi” is wrong. Nazis were something much much worse than that.

Terrorists- This is a word that is out of fashion. The London press often has trouble calling muslim “militants”, “Gunmen”, and “freedom fighters” what they are: terrorists. Anyone who purposefully tries to kill non-combatants for political reasons is a terrorist.

Eugenics- Why people who are advocating killing all fetuses with Down syndrome object to the term “eugenics”, I don’t know. If they believe that it is permissible to murder fetuses that are not perfect, whether for societal, monetary, or discriminatory reasons, then that is the definition of “eugenics”! If they believe it to be correct, they should be proud to say they are promoters of “eugenics”. However, I feel that to accuse a private woman who chooses to abort, due to her unwillingness to deal with a special needs child as a person practicing “eugenics” is unfair. Nor would I call those advocating killing of fetuses, and doctors who persist in applying bleaker-than-reality pressure on mothers to abort, as” Nazis”. I would yes accuse them of discrimination, and point out that the road of eugenics IS a slippery and dangerous one.

Other stereotypes are well supported with the choice of words that we use. We need to consider carefully, and seriously, the situations before us. The human psyche is very complex, and generalizations are USUALLY not called for.

1 comment:

danette said...

I think you have a point there - words tend to lose their meaning when overused or misused. And people should not be afraid to call something what it is!