Almost 140 years ago, Lewis Carroll created Humpty Dumpty, a malevolent, controlling, arrogant figure who maintained power in his relationship with Alice (of Wonderland fame) by denying her the ability either to speak her mind or to understand his. Whatever she said, he quarreled with her word choice, and whatever he said, she was unable to understand. In Humpty Dumpty’s hands, meaning became fluid and dangerous. Moreover, when Alice called him on the fact, Humpty Dumpty boasted that word meanings were subordinate to him and his needs:
‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’
‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’
‘The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.’
Alice was just having a dream, but we are living in a Humpty Dumpty nightmare, one that sees words uncoupled from their previously understood meanings. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the words the world uses to describe Israel. For example, “apartheid” is (or used to be) a very specific word: It was a South African word used to describe the systematic state created and controlled disenfranchisement of South Africa’s black citizens. They were denied all but the most minimal civil rights, kept in segregated ghettos, demeaned, dehumanized, and impoverished.
The South African government’s acts were immoral so the word “apartheid” was not merely descriptive, but value-laden. When the Left co-opts that word to describe Israel, it knows that credulous and uninformed people around the world will immediately assume that Arabs living within the State of Israel are immorally kept as second class citizens with minimal civil rights, kept in segregated ghettos, etc. The truth, however, is quite different. Arabs in Israel have more freedoms and rights than Arabs in just about any other Middle Eastern state (or maybe any Middle Eastern state).
Elder of Ziyon has taken issue with this Humpty-Dumpty-esque misuse of the word “apartheid” as used to describe Israel. Please check out his post. It’s fascinating.
Also, this seems like a good time to replay this excellent attack on the Orwellian hypocrisy of the Boycott, Divest & Sanction movement: