The word was used in 1942 about the practice of the Nazi government in Warsaw when they "shut us [the Jews] up in a manageable area - the 'Kettle' - and combed through our helpless crowd", as John Hersey's fictionalised account of the Ringleblum archives reported in 1950.
Perhaps those who have little sense of history or political philosophy are unaware of the connotations of the term, but for the rest of us this police practice is one more sign that the government of covert forces behind it are putting into place, little by little, whatever would be needed at some future stage for totalitarian control.
Thursday, April 09, 2009
A Different Kettle of Fish?
Sometimes, when there are other, more desperate things going on, one is tempted into thinking that writing about literary things is a little effete. But then the way we use language is at the root of everything, as Orwell taught us, and a letter to The Guardian yesterday from Professor John Veit-Wilson reminds us of an earlier use of the word 'kettling' for containing crowds: