It takes a clear head to drill into the bedrock of history, especially when that history contains some pretty atrocious acts. Lucky for us, Stephen Fry is up to the task.
We rarely think of comedians as experts.
But there's one topic they know better than almost anyone else.
Stephen Fry is a great comedian. And the way he sees it, language is the key to understanding racism. Which in turn, is the key to understanding genocide.
Because all genocides in recent history have had one thing in common:
From the minute the Nazis came to power, they knew ordinary Germans would have a much harder time getting on board with the wholesale slaughter of Jews and Roma and other "undesirable" groups if they thought of them as fellow people. So they started referring to them as...
You see the same pattern in Rwanda in the '90s. And elsewhere. Time and time again, one of the first steps taken by the leaders of genocidal movements is to control the way certain groups of people are discussed. Because when you think of someone as less than human, it becomes much easier to treat them in unspeakably cruel ways.
Martin Luther King Jr. said it best:
Which is why it's so important to protect the free flow of language and ideas.