Carpal tunnel syndrome and long work days are making me terse these days. But someone has designated today as Day of Conscience for Sudan, and that makes me think of politics and the English language.
Words have such power. Here in the US, we put a five-second delay on live TV shows in case viewers are struck by the force of a word.
We shield ourselves, too, from the force of the word ‘genocide’. It is so powerful that when a government names it it is under legal obligation to fight it. An eight-letter word, in the right mouth, can mobilize armies, doctors, diplomats, logistics experts, and lawyers. Rafael Lemkin spent his whole life struggling to get that level of moral and legal authority for the word he coined. It didn’t occur to him, I suppose, that we would dodge his intent by simply renaming of what we saw. It costs no tanks or taxes to condemn ‘atrocities’ or ‘ethnic cleansing’ or ‘Bad Things’.
Here’s a _New Yorker_ article by the dazzling Ms. Samantha Power: Dying in Darfur
Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders use money well.