Sunday, December 03, 2006

Two stories of prejudice

I've happened to come across two really depressing stories over the weekend. The first was from the Times back at the end of the summer. Jamie Glassman, one of the writers from the Ali G Show, and hence no stranger to sailing close to the comedic wind himself, notes that at this year's Edinburgh Fringe he saw two comics who have made anti-semitic jokes (although if you were feeling very charitable you could argue the toss over the later) and that for the young, ignorant and mouthy left there is willingness to not separate all Jews everywhere from the actions of the Israeli Government, when it comes to hating "Bush, Blair and Israel." I think that with the rough and ugly politics of the last five or so years, it is definitely something that is creeping back on to the fringes of the political discourse of the left - as I have alluded to before on this blog. This anti-semitism wrapped up in something else has probably always been there, but people just knew to keep their mouths shut if they didn't want to get smack or shouted down for the ugly bigotry that it is. But with the worsening of the political situation in the Middle East, and particularly after the Israel-Lebanon war of this summer, the bigots are feeling less restrained. I was lucky enough to have the chance to have dinner with Dr. Nabil Shaath - special envoy for the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas - this week after he was returning from the EU Mid-East summit in Tampere. He was very up-beat about the outcomes of the summit and had had a number of private meetings with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and clearly they had been constructive (although things look less good today), but his descriptions of life in Gaza, currently under Israeli blockade, were incredibly depressing. The economy has been destroyed and malnutrition is starting to be observed. There is much to be criticised amongst current Israeli government policies, but why people would go from doing that to being simply racist towards a huge group of people living all around the world (and quite often the most acute and clear critics of those policies) is beyond me. They are f**kwits and deserve to be told so.

The second story is an incredible one from the US. A talkshow host on station covering Washington, Virginia and Maryland had a show based on the idea that all Muslims should be made to wear some kind of signifying mark in public like an armband, or be tattooed. Some called in to say the host a dangerous bigot and to point out the rather obvious historical precedents. Many others phoned in to say what a good idea it was, or more - that all Muslims should either be put in camps or expelled from the country. Of course at the end of the show the host revealed that it had been a hoax to draw out peoples feelings toward Muslims. A few weeks ago I met a number of young American Muslims at a conference, all 'community leaders' of some sort or another - all young professionals: lawyers, dentists etc. who were putting much effort into various NGOs, community education groups etc. They all said how this sense of mistrust towards American Muslims was increasing, spurred on by real 'honest' ignorance mixed with what to them were very strange ideas about what their religion is meant to be, ideas that come from ugly anti-Islamic rhetoric that exists on numerous blogs and religious (Christian) websites. There was a real sense of unease, about being made to feel a stranger in the country of your birth - and this radio host's hoax can only add to that. Can anyone be stupid enough not to know what asking a religious group to wear an armband signifies?

Thanks to CENSORED and Duncan_S on UKC who brought both articles to my attention.

1 comment:

KGS said...

Toby:
"that for the young, ignorant and mouthy left there is willingness to not separate all Jews everywhere from the actions of the Israeli Government, when it comes to hating "Bush, Blair and Israel."

Kudos for once again drawing attention to a dangerous phenomenon that is never to far from the surface. Please consider Emmanuel Ottlenghi's observations when it comes to how Europe's Left (in general, yes it's not monolithic) views Jews vis-a-vis support for Israel. He states in his excellent article, "Europes Good Jews";

http://www.wzo.org.il/en/resources/view.asp?id=2179
"This is not 1930's-style anti-Semitism; in that narrow sense, anti-Israel Europeans are correct in protesting that they are not anti-Semites. Nevertheless, it is an age-old form of anti-Semitism, and one that has always called forth a typical pattern of response on the part of the Jews under scrutiny." And..."UNLIKE THE case in pre-Enlightenment Europe, present-day anti-Semitism does not expect Jews to abandon their religion. Today's Europe is a self-consciously multicultural society. Although it cherishes secularism above all, it respects, if somewhat warily, religious pluralism. What the enlightened sector of today's Europe would like Jews to do, in exchange for fully approved membership in the circle of approved opinion, is to renounce a core component of their identity: that is, their sense of Jewish peoplehood as expressed through their attachment and commitment to the democratic state of Israel and to the Zionist enterprise."

The article's main focus pertained to Jews whose disparaging of the Jewish state, either borders on, or crosses over into anti-Semitism, and completely void of valid criticism.

Concerning bigotry towards Muslims, the phenomenon does exist and must be countered with valid debate. But the disturbing factor that helps increase a sense of untrustfullness towards that religious group, is the complete lack of NOTICABLE outspoken contempt from the Islamic community in the West, towards all forms of religious motivated violence. We see very vocal demonstrations aimed at the US and Israel, but hardly a mention of Islamic atrocities that are occuring all around the world, in the Sudan and elsewhere. Where have we last seen mass numbers of *Muslims in the West*, protesting against the use of Sharia by the Saudi Kingdom and elswhere, who taking their Prophet Mohamed's words at face value, and stone women to death for alleged adultry, lobbing off arms and legs for theft and execute homosexuals ect. ect.?

Personally, I look closer at the leadership of the Islamic community than the individual members, for its the former that sets the tone, not the latter. I point to the recent incedent of the "six flying Imams" taken off a US airline. They intentionally provoked passengers by their outlandish behaviour, then feigned victimhood in response to the authorities proper procedure in removing them from the plane. This type of tomfoolery earns their communities little respect and and trust at all.

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