How We Talk About Things

I just had an online discussion with a blogger I usually appreciate for her sharp sense and her critical mind. She posted a picture of a far right politician dressed up as a Bedouin and related Bedouins to Israel among others. I contacted her and asked her not to describe Bedouins of that region as Israelis, but as Palestinians, which they are. It was her right to consider my critics as small minded. Maybe it is.

The reason I asked her to change this little word is that I believe that the way we talk about things has an important influence on the way we think about them. Relating Bedouins to Israel is, in my opinion, a way of strengthening the narrative of the occupiers and denying Bedouins their identity as Palestinians. Same as relating to refugees as invaders is denying that most of them are just trying to find a safe place to live in dignity.

I strongly believe that if we want to make this world a place where people respect each other, we should be careful about the words we use to describe each other. As long as Muslims are put in a relationship with terrorism, we will not be able to recognise them as individuals, who mostly despise terrorism as much as others. As long as Palestinians are related to Israel, we will not be able to consider them as individual people who have suffered a generation long oppression of their fundamental human rights. As long as we keep silent about Nuba people being persecuted, we will not be able to stand up and support their request of safety, education, medical treatment.

If we want our world to be a place where people respect each other, it is up to us to recognise everybody has the right to their identity and to fundamental human rights. It starts in the small things, using a vocabulary which respects this claim. Because it will allow us to think of them as human beings, not as a mass without identity.

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