“The cities are full of women, middle-aged widows, husbands dead, husbands who’ve spent their lives making fortunes, working and working. And then they die and leave their money to their wives, their silly wives. And what do the wives do, these useless women? You see them in the hotels, the best hotels, every day by the thousands. Drinking the money, eating the money, losing the money at bridge. Playing all day and all night. Smelling of money. Proud of their jewelry but of nothing else. Horrible, faded, fat, greedy women… Are they human or are they fat, wheezing animals, hmm? And what happens to animals when they get too fat and too old?”
Charlie Oakley, Shadow of A Doubt (1943)
“Michael Billig has drawn attention to the qualities of innocence and intolerance built into the ideology of nationalism, an ideology that is so familiar, that it hardly seems noticeable.
One may observe, with him, that nationalist prejudice is daily reinforced by school textbook and media stories, by box office hits and the no longer noticed vocabulary of everyday national politics, shared by the Left and the Right alike. The newspapers that address readers as members of the nation, and sport commentators who take special pride in the achievements of our nationals (in individual as well as team events, in highly paid proffesisonal tournaments as well as in periodic World Cup and Olympic competitions between national teams), are part pf the same subconscious process of mobilization of nationalist pride.
Nationalist consciousness and pride is reproduced too in the ways we construct ourselves and interact with others in daily life. The stars and stripes prominently displayed on office desks and car windows, in restaurants and private homes in the United States, and the image of Uncle Sam on T-shirts, notebooks, and food packages, attract no special attention. They are natural, proper and peculiarly invisible.”
Gyanendra Pandey, 2004, pp. 8-9.
In her wide-ranging body of work on the consequences of the Partition and on the links among violence, gender, and nationalist ideology, Das investigates the relationships among language, silence, gesture and suffering. She examines questions that have important implications for those who investigate violence.
Can suffering be expressed, known, or shared? What is the relationship of the observer to those who suffer from violence? She notes that under extreme conditions, “as human understanding gives way, language is struck dumb.” When violence annihilates language, it creates its own fear; “a relapse into a dumb condition is not only a sign of this period but is also a part of the terror itself.”
Yet silence does not bring an end to communication or to understanding; thus, for the analyst “it is the silences that need to be addressed.”