|A German Children's Book|
|Germans murdering Poles in Bochnia. Source|
In Spiegel Online, Dialika Neufeld argues that Germans should remove offensive terms from German children's books. I read this article in English. The word "negro" is identified as an offensive term. In current American English, "negro" is not offensive, merely old fashioned. The offensive word is "nigger." I'm not sure if "negro" is a flawed translation for "nigger." In any case, Neufeld argues against using offensive terms for black people in children's books, and she mostly focuses on black people.
Germans, of course, victimized Jews and Poles much worse than they victimized black people, at least in the past century. I wonder at the focus of her article. If Germans are going to upgrade their level of sensitivity, ought they not upgrade their level of sensitivity toward Poles? Jews as well, of course? But Germany has been working on improving relations with Jews for some time. How about Poles and Poland? Are we on their Politically Correct radar? If not, we should be.
She does mention offensive terms for Poles in passing: "People in the second category -- those who deny the problem exists -- claim that everyone nowadays knows not to use words like "Negro," "Gypsy," "Polack" or "Slit-Eyes," these terms that seem to come straight out of some handbook of discrimination. But their view holds little weight, given that I regularly find myself having to explain to adults why they shouldn't use the words "nigger" or "Negro" -- and certainly not in my presence."
On the one hand, it is easy to agree with Neufeld. I would not read the word "nigger" to a child. I would not have the book containing that word around, or, if I had to read it, I would delete the word.
On the other hand, German literature is full of nasty images of Poles and others, including women. The Grimms' Tales are replete with sadomasochistic and misogynist tortures. I wouldn't read those to a child, either, but their existence is part of our cultural heritage. Censoring them attempts to change the world into something it is not.
Full article is here.