This blog contains material I wrote and posted on between the years 2005 and 2011 only. It does not contain any new material. For newer writing, please check my main blog (Bill the Butcher).

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Freudian Slips

Sometimes, language can reveal such a lot of unintended stuff...

I remember back in 1989 when the two Germanys were being “reunited”. Oh, heady stuff, with the visuals of the Berlin Wall coming down, and so on and so forth, and the projection of the “reunification’ as the yearning of two halves of a sundered nation for togetherness.

Except, of course, it wasn’t like that at all.

Back then I had an East German pen-friend (yes, the ink-and-paper variety, whom who sent off missives in envelopes and received replies after weeks of you remember?) called Kristin Otto. She was extremely unhappy about the “reunification”, and saw it clearly for what it was – the annexation of the German Democratic Republic by the Federal Republic of Germany. Only, if you read the media, you’d never know that...

Correction: if you read the media, you’d know that all too well. There was the endless discussion over two questions; would the reunified Germany “still remain” a member of NATO, and would the capital shift to Berlin or “remain” in Bonn?

You see the significance of the wording? If it was a true unification of equals, why should the word “remain” occur?  You might want to ask if the new Germany would “be” a member of NATO, or if the capital would “be” Bonn or Berlin or any other place. But when you say “remain”, you give the entire legitimacy to one side of this allegedly equal reunification, and you expose it for what it is: an annexation of East Germany by the West.

That’s what a word can reveal.

Another example was during the time of the last government in India, when the Hindunazi Bharatiya Janata Party (the name means Indian People’s Party, which you might mistake for a left wing party if you didn’t know what it really was) was in power at the head of a coalition. One of his Cabinet was a man called George Fernandes, one of an unsavoury breed of politician who changed himself from a socialist to a Nazi fellow traveller for the sake of power. In 1999, when India fought a brief “war” against Pakistan in Kargil in Kashmir, Fernandes, then the Defence Minister, was accused by the Comptroller and Auditor General of the nation, no less, of ordering substandard and wildly overpriced aluminium coffins from the US for carrying the bodies of the troops killed in combat. Not only were the coffins too heavy and too costly, they arrived far too late to be of any use in the conflict, and there was much evidence that money had changed hands in the placing of the order. A few months later, several aides to Fernandes, army officers, and others were nailed asking for bribes in a sting operation conducted by the news portal, and after an immense public uproar Fernandes was forced to resign. “But,” said Atal Behari Vajpayee, then BJP Prime Minister, “he will be re-inducted into the cabinet as soon as the inquiry finds  him innocent.” Mark the words – not if the inquiry finds him innocent, but as soon as.

In the event, Fernandes was re-inducted long before any inquiry found him innocent; in fact, as far as I know, he’s not been found innocent yet. But whether he was found innocent or not, Vajpayee had already decided that he would be back; as clear from his choice of words.

I’m sure you remember more of this from the time of the invasion of Iraq; why would anyone who welcomed the invaders as “liberators” need a proconsul? Liberated people run their own affairs, don’t they? They are free once they’re liberated, aren’t they?

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