Category Archives: rhetoric

Sarkozy’s blather

Extreme political vacuity

So that we don’t have to, Dalrymple once discharged the duty of listening in person to a Nicolas Sarkozy speech. Sarkozy, Dalrymple recalls,

was like a dried pea rattling about and shaken in a tin box. He jumped around the stage making a passionate verbal noise, but nothing he said had any discernible tether to anything concrete. Within seconds of his finishing, no one could have given any account of what he had said.

Like the Prince in Johnson’s Rasselas, Dalrymple says he went away

convinced of the emptiness of rhetorical sounds.

He asks:

Is mastery of this kind of meaningless verbalisation, eloquently empty and passionately delivered, the key to political success?

If so,

what does it say of us, the citizens of democracies?

Mendacity of the Guardian newspaper

Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 09.03.09Dalrymple comes across an article on deportations in the London newspaper the Guardian. He explains that the article‘s

real point (exemplified by calling the migrants ‘undocumented’ rather than illegal) is rhetorical rather than informative: it wants to claim that the United States, or by extension any other country, including Britain, has no right to control who enters it to live there.

The article is accompanied by a photo of a man’s hand in a San Pedro Sula hospital. The man is waiting to be treated for a stab wound. There is a lot of blood. Only trouble is, the man turns out not to be a deportee from the US.

The photo was used only to raise the emotional temperature of the reader.

Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 09.05.45Dalrymple points out that since San Pedro Sula

is the city with the world’s highest annual murder rate, it is not difficult to take such photographs. Nor is it difficult to understand why anyone should wish to leave San Pedro Sula.

Dalrymple writes that in Birmingham in the English Midlands, where he used to work, there were

many migrants who had entered the country illegally. The officially accepted reasons for granting asylum—persecution because of race, religion, membership of a social group, or political opinion—didn’t by any means exhaust their reasons for leaving their countries, or even for justifiably fearing to return to them. Governments, alas, are not the only persecutors of people.

Irrespective of their reasons for immigrating illegally,

most of these people had had extremely hard, unenviable lives, and it was difficult not to sympathise with most of them as individuals.

However,

some were criminals pure and simple, seeking a more fertile field in which to sow and reap.

All talk and no trousers

Screen Shot 2013-11-09 at 11.35.17Margaret Thatcher

spoke too much and did too little. Her strident tone, that was capable of cutting glass, gave even her best ideas a bad reputation, as if they had been put into practice when they had not.

By every measure, the public sector looms larger in Britain today than it did in 1979. Dalrymple puts it this way: Margaret Thatcher found the public sector inefficient

 and left it inefficient and corrupt.

Her noisy rhetoric against the state

disguised the fact that under her, the state remained as preponderant as ever. Government expenditure increased, above all in areas such as social security.