Letter: Why 'ethnic cleansing' is such a filthy phrase

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I WISH to protest at the persistent use by your journalists of the euphemistic phrase 'ethnic cleansing'. The three times it was used on 19 July, in the two articles on Bosnia-Herzegovina, it is placed in inverted commas but not attributed to anyone.

While we all understand what is being described by the phrase, I would suggest that its repeated use is liable to lead to its wider acceptance into the language, and to tacit acceptance of the despicable philosophy behind it.

The phrase implies that someone is providing a service to the community. I am sure many people would describe the events that have prompted its use as 'intimidation, enforced displacement and murder'.

If journalists are not prepared to use this more accurate type of quotation instead of 'ethnic cleansing', they can stand accused of giving credibility to its implicit philosophy. They give credibility to the racists who have spawned the phrase, and they further sanction its use to describe, and explain, the other similar situations that will inevitably arise around the world.

Repetition of such phrases, in quotes or otherwise, does nothing to help the fragile cause of racial tolerance and harmony, which Bosnia-Herzegovina and the rest of the world desperately need.

John Whiting

Leatherhead, Surrey