One Author's Life


What Holocaust Survivors Can Tell Us About the Use of Language

August 26, 2016

Tags: American culture and politics, language, elders, Holocaust survivors

Eighteen years ago I interviewed a brilliant Holocaust survivor named Leo Petranker. He shared many observations about life, democracy, and the nature of human beings. One of his comments, in particular, sticks in my mind:

"Always watch the language of a people," he said. "When people use extreme words, like 'assassinate', this is a sign of trouble to come."

In the years since I interviewed Mr. Petranker, American culture has become much more coarse. (more…)