Language … again

BylineNewOh no! Roland is going to ‘rant-on’ about words and their meanings again

RADICAL, MILITANT. For a long, long time these were words that were often used to describe the socialist left — not only in Britain but internationally. Today, these words are more often used to describe religious fanatics. What, I wonder, is ‘radical’ about chopping someone’s head off or treating women as if they were an item on a supermarket shelf.

Let’s put it another way. Do any of you remember when you were at school? I was once, although it seems a long time ago, and words were used to scapegoat; words of hate, malign …

There was nothing ‘radical’ or ‘militant’ about the National Front (forerunner of the British National Party, many of whom have gravitated towards the United Kingdom Independence Party, UKIP). Essentially, they want a return to a world that, in reality, never existed beyond their Aryan noses.

I remember a young Asian girl who joined my ‘form-group’, or whatever it was called, at my high school. She wasn’t from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh or Sri Lanka but from Uganda. The NF supporting cretins at school couldn’t work it out. Telling Aisha to “go back” to India didn’t make any sense. Despite being NF supporters even they weren’t quite that stupid. She’d never been to India for f***k’s sake. Her family had left Uganda, along with hundreds of thousands of other Asians, following Idi Amin’s decree in the late 1970s to expel ‘Asians’ from Uganda and similarly from Kenya. Guess which country was responsible for leaving behind a judicial system that allowed despots to do whatever they wanted. I’m sorry, I don’t have any prizes to entice you.

“Garlic”. Phew …

Curry (n, a dish of meat, vegetables, etc., cooked in an Indian-style sauce of strong spices.). So strong in fact that a milder dish, the ‘Korma’, was devised in Britain to allay British palates. Brits still hate French cooking though, as I have recently discovered with neighbours complaining about the smell from my flat. Garlic I think; my neighbours associate it with ‘vampires’. Touché. I can’t cook without it. Perhaps I should ’curry’ favour with my neighbours; same word different context and meaning.

Enough. Subject at hand. Radical: the Chartists, Levellers, Suffragettes even the Luddites (who are misunderstood) were “radical” and would use, on occasion, “militant” tactics to further their aims. People certainly died during these social struggles but they weren’t attempting to impose a religious 13-14th century style ‘caliphate’. They were, in fact, looking forward. Dangerous!

Many British and international ‘radicals’ (men and women) went to Spain to fight alongside republican rebels against Franco forces. That was radical and militant. Chopping off someones head and displaying the result ‘online’ is not.

In Britain Prince Charles, smothered in money from the state, talks of “de-radicalising”. Of course he does. Like most aristocrats through-out history he doesn’t like ‘radicalism’. Radicals threaten him despite the fact he is more than capable of making himself look like a complete …

There is a problem here; an editorial problem. BBC journalists (and the Beeb is still the mainstream, television and radio, broadcasting outlet) are generally pro-establishment. I know this because I’ve worked for the BBC — and it’s why I don’t now! Another problem: if you report on barbaric jihadists and describe them as ‘radical’ and ‘militant’ how do you report on strike action by hospital workers who are being ‘radical’ and ‘militant’ but have no known intention of chopping someone’s head off?

The socialist left needs to reclaim ‘radicalism’ and ‘militancy’. That would be a radical move ✪

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