Do you have friends that use the same expressions over and again?
Some are cultural phenomena, such as “Oh my God!”, “Get real” or “Could you believe it?” Entire groups of friends or communities may be heard using the same sayings. You can be confident that the familiar phrase will be punctuated throughout a conversation.
Sometimes, an expression is an original. A person (or organization) develops a catch-phrase that captures their current thinking. The first time you hear it, you might think nothing of it or just consider the comment a strange choice of words. But when you hear the same bizarre expression used again by different people in the same organization, you can be sure that it reflects a conscious cultural mindset.
On July 24, Helene Copper and Somini Sengupta wrote an article in the New York Times about what they considered the unusual support Americans give to Israel relative to the rest of the world. In describing the pro-Palestinian protests in various cities in Europe, they stated that the protests had “an anti-Semitic tinge.” As detailed in FirstOneThrough that day (link below), the phrase ignored the riots specifically against Jews. The choice of the word “tinge” was highly offensive to any civilized person who objects to racism.
Europe being Europe and the Times being the Times, the next few days saw more of the same.
- Israeli soccer players from Maccabi Haifa were attacked in Austria.
- In Paris, 4000 people – many with weapons – staged a protest in Place de la Republique; 70 were arrested.
- A Facebook page was created with the faces of French Jews with an encouragement to attack them; one of the Jews was subsequently attacked by a mob.
But the New York Times continued to be unruffled and unperturbed. So much so, that the incendiary phrase “an anti-Semitic tinge” was used again in a July 27 article by Jodi Rudoren. Not only did she repeat the phrase verbatim, but she led that only Israelis were offended by these slight expressions of hatred (ignoring the strong condemnations of political leaders throughout the continent).
Perhaps other sections of the Times (which unlike the rest of the paper, still has a few remaining fans) will notice and react: the travel editor might highlight a nice tour of Mississippi that had “a sprinkle of lynchings”; a real estate article might describe a flat in Berlin as “airy, with a nice view of the genocide”; and the food and wine critic might describe a French liquor as “smoky, with a hint of Holocaust.”
One can expect to see other offensive and idiotic idioms in the Times in the weeks ahead.
Recent European anti-semitism:
“An anti-Semitic Tinge” by FirstOneThrough: