The New American Metonym

“The knock on the door” has long been an ominous phrase. It has been a metonym for arrest in the small hours of the morning by the servants of the two great iconic tyrannies, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. Such arrest was followed by interrogation, sometimes torture, and then often dispatch to a labour camp, forced exile or execution. And yet the phrase also attests a certain superficial courtesy on the part of the Gestapo and the NKVD.

It may therefore be that one day we shall look back with nostalgia at the days when secret policemen actually knocked, rather than kicked the door down, or blew it in, or entered, guns blazing, through the windows. Such procedures do not always leave anyone alive to question, but if the purpose is maximum intimidation of the populace, this is just as effective as the older method.

The point back then was that no one should know when they went to bed whether the knock on the door would come that night, because some neighbour had informed on them; in the third iconic tyranny they will not know when they go to bed whether their door will be kicked in that night. Judging by their films and shows, such delight does the American populace take in the prospect of this happening – always to someone else, of course – that kicking the doors in bodes fair to be the ruling metonym of their empire.

Posted on November 30, 2011 at 10:53 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink
In: RESISTANCE IS FUTILE!, The Shadow In The West

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