Thursday 23 March 2023

Nazi Language

Artificial Intelligence, Robot, Ai

So, Gary Lineker caused a rumpus by saying: “There is no huge influx. We take far fewer refugees than other major European countries. This is just an immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people in language that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s, and I’m out of order?” (Twitter)

This is yet another issue that has polarised opinion. Some see Linker as an overpaid star who is out of touch with reality. Others see him as Still Mr Nice Guy.

As I started on this project, I was alarmed at the parallels I saw between what is happening now in the world, particularly in the UK government, and what happened in 1930s’ Germany. It’s perhaps all the more dangerous because it’s understated and not so obvious. But at least there haven’t been pictures of Boris Johnson in all classrooms and students haven’t been forced to worship him. Anyway, saying it is now exactly as it was then would be underestimating just how bad things were then.  

So, BBC journalists have to be impartial. It is good practice for them to argue against their own opinions. But there is actually no such thing as impartiality and we all show our bias no matter how neutral we try to be by what we choose not to say.

Lineker of course is not a journalist but a sports presenter.

And what of “evil happens when good people do nothing”? I’m with Lineker to some extent. Asylum seekers are not illegal immigrants.  Although the boat journeys are organised by criminal gangs, the migrants themselves are not criminals. We should be mindful too of the degree of desperation induces people to take this route? They shouldn’t be further punished for trying to escape an appalling situation.  

I’m perhaps more concerned at the continuous threats that seem to be being made to Human Rights.  The Declaration of Human Rights is simple and beautiful. It does allow us to deal with the anti-social. It needs no adjustment.   

I’m not sure that the language itself has been all that similar to what the Nazis used even if the urge to send migrants to Rwanda comes from an impulse similar to that which led to the death camps; people are worried about “Lebensraum”.  Whether we take fewer refugees than other European countries or not depends on how you configure the statistics.

The young German women I portray in these novels set in Nazi Germany are somewhat innocent. Two words appear time and time again: “duty” and “camaraderie”. These sound harmless enough and even quite virtuous.  We all know now that they had a more sinister meaning at that time.  It’s probably also important for us also to look now below the surface to see what is really going on.