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Politicians, mind your language

Michael Howard's still claiming that it's not 'racist' to talk about asylum and immigration. But doesn't that depend on the language you use?

Last week, The Guardian had a good article on the demonising effects of words such as 'abuse' which are now inextricably linked to the issue of asylum in this election.

It interviewed Moris Farhi, vice president of International PEN and a campaigner for freedom of expression in his native country of Turkey, who says: 'This word 'abuse' has become almost a mantra. It's a dehumanisation process of the unwanted. The weakest are always demonised and it becomes, perhaps unconsciously, a racist policy.'

The article also points out the psychological links being made between asylum and the language of war and terrorism. Terms such as 'strengthening borders', 'chaos', 'national security' all build a particular picture, as if, as Farhi says, we are 'about to be invaded by a formidable fifth column.'

But, hey, at least I'm free to write what I think about all this, unlike bloggers in Bahrain.
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