July 16, 2014

Christopher Hitchens on the word "community"

Wikipedia explained the etymology and origin of the line, "when I hear the word culture, I reach for my gun":
"When the Nazis achieved power in 1933, Hanns Johst wrote the play Schlageter, an expression of Nazi ideology performed on Hitler's 44th birthday, 20 April 1933, to celebrate his victory. The famous line "when I hear the word culture, I reach for my gun", often associated with Nazi leaders, derives from this play. The actual original line from the play is slightly different: "Wenn ich Kultur höre ... entsichere ich meinen Browning!" "Whenever I hear of culture... I release the safety catch of my Browning!" (Act 1, Scene 1). 
The famous line is regularly misattributed, sometimes to Hermann Göring and sometimes to Heinrich Himmler. In December 2007, historian David Starkey misattributed it to Joseph Goebbels in comments criticizing Queen Elizabeth II for being "poorly educated and philistine". It has also been adapted, for example by Stephen Hawking as "When I hear of Schrödinger's cat, I reach for my pistol" and by filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard in 1963's film Le Mépris, when a producer says to Fritz Lang: "Whenever I hear the word culture, I bring out my checkbook." Lang evokes the original line as he answers "Some years ago—some horrible years ago—the Nazis used to take out a pistol instead of a checkbook." Songwriter Roger Miller of Mission of Burma titled his 1981 song "That's When I Reach for My Revolver" after the line.
Christopher Hitchens said of the word "community":
"The word “community” pisses me off. Who isn’t in a community now? It’s particularly bad in my adopted country and in my home town of Washington DC. “The defence community”; alright if you must. “The intelligence community” for the CIA is an outrage. “The donor community” for those who seek to influence politics by giving money under the table is appalling. And the ultimate reductio ad absurdum of it, I did actually once read in a very guardedly written account of organised crime - “the Sicilian business community.” You hear the word “community”, keep your hand on your wallet… It robs the language of the word."
Here's my adaptation:
"Whenever I hear the word community, I reach for my gun."

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