Wednesday January 18, 2023; 7:07 PM EST
- In the Book of Judges 12: 5-6, during a war, one regional group seized a ford of the Jordan River. When people asked to cross the river there in order to escape the war's turmoil, army guards listened for differences in accent and singled out for death any refugee from the opposing group. They killed anyone* who pronounced the sh- of shibboleth as an s-. #
- In the Dominican Republic, Rafael Trujillo presided over a similar sort of massacre, instructing his troops to single out for death those who could not pronounce the Spanish word for parsley in an approved way.#
- Trujillo’s attention to the details was spectacular.
He taught his murderous goons which laborers
to spare by the uptown way they rolled their r’s.
We learn a melody of vowels at mother’s breast;
consonants tap out the rhythm of our vernacular
in love songs, but a tyrant may not be impressed.#
- Yes, human life can be beautiful, but a tyrant may not be impressed.#
- Other episodes like these over the centuries appear in the Wikipedia article on shibboleth. No need to know the other person when a simple surface trait of culture is in plain view.#
- *The death toll at the ford is reported to be 42,000.#