Common sense and PC sensitivity;Opinion

21st May 1999 at 01:00
Sarah is becoming increasingly right-on. As I write I can hear her explaining to Ginny that the terms AD and BC are offensive and should be replaced. My younger daughter believes that only AD should be replaced, however, because BC stands for Backwards Counting - and how could that upset anyone?

If the study of history tells us anything it is that we can all find a reason to take offence if we are really determined to do so.

I live on the Welsh border surrounded by acres of trees and 1,200 years of resentment. The English in this part of the world have long suspected the Welsh of stealing their cattle, while the Welsh are damn certain the Saxons stole their land.

It's a pattern that is repeated the world over. There are few races that have not been bonded together by a sense of common victimhood. Even the Nazis considered themselves an injured party.

But a line has to be drawn and sensible people draw it. The word Wales comes from the Anglo-Saxon waelas, which means stranger, and you have to admit the Welsh have been pretty generous over the last millennium, knowing they were judged outsiders in a land that was once their own. But this is the kind of tolerance that makes the world go round.

It would be all too easy for some academic with his sights set on headlines to suggest that the word Wales is offensive and insist that henceforth the Prince of Those Bits Of Britain Not Stolen By The Saxons should change his title. But, please, where there is no offence let's not look for it .

Which brings me back to the blasted millennium, which some academic has just realised is a Christian concept and therefore must be causing deep offence to all us non-Christians.

Well no, it isn't. Not to me anyway. Yes, I am bored by the millennium already - which is a shame - but I certainly don't feel it is necessary to replace AD and BC with Before and After Common Era. I was over in Egypt recently where it certainly doesn't seem to be bothering them. We like the idea of the West celebrating a millennium, said my Muslim host. Here in Egypt we are on to our seventh!

Plurality, rather than political correctness, is what will save us all in the end.

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