Why do we have such punitive attitudes toward old people? Granted, the ancients did hideous things to elders who were unable to work but still needed food and care, but in more recent times, that had changed: In 18th-century New England, it was common for people to make themselves seem older by adding years to their real age, rather than subtracting them.
Once upon a time, “senile” just meant old, without being pejorative. Even “geriatric” was originally a value-free term, rather than part of the lexicon of contempt toward old people.
Yet today, the language used to describe the changing age composition of the population is little short of apocalyptic.… Seguir leyendo »
On Saturday, in the Danish city of Aarhus, a Europe-wide rally organised by the English Defence League will try to set up a European anti-Muslim movement. For Europe's far-right parties the rally, coming so soon after the murders in south-west France by a self-professed al-Qaida-following Muslim, marks a moment rich with potential political capital.
Yet it's also a delicate one, especially for Marine Le Pen. Well before the killings, Le Pen was assiduously courting Jews, even while her father and founder of the National Front, Jean-Marie Le Pen, was last month convicted of contesting crimes against humanity for saying that the Nazi occupation of France "wasn't particularly inhumane".… Seguir leyendo »
To most people the very mention of Alzheimer's induces a state of hopelessness. We make nervous jokes about "senior moments", or express don't-know-how-you-manage sympathy to carers. Those with Alzheimer's themselves, meanwhile, are often talked of as if they've already slipped the bonds of humanity: they're ex-persons.
So if I told you that I'd spent an evening at the Wellcome Collection in London a few weeks ago discussing dementia and emerged feeling excited, you might wonder about the soundness of my mind. Yet the pioneering work described there is profoundly improving the experiences of both people with dementia and their carers. Later this month the government launches a national dementia strategy.… Seguir leyendo »
We live in McCarthyist times, or so it sometimes seems. An Indiana election official, it emerged last week, has distributed a blog that called Barack Obama a "young, black Adolf Hitler", while elsewhere an email was sent to Jewish voters warning of a "second Holocaust" if the Democrat was elected. Meanwhile, campuses around America last week marked "Islamofascism Awareness Week" with events on jihad and Islamic totalitarianism.
"Islamofascism" slips easily from the mouth of war-on-terror ideologues but it has a deeper narrative, too, as it attempts to elide modern Islam with 1930s National Socialism, and equate Muslims and Nazis. Obama, by virtue of his Muslim father (whom he met once), earns a central place in this narrative, where (according to Colin Powell) calling someone a Muslim - accurately or not - constitutes a smear campaign.… Seguir leyendo »