Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Talibani and Jihadist West?

There's a growing tendency, among those of us who are non-Muslims and non-Jews in Western societies, to adopt a form of anti-Arab intolerance that mimics the reverse of the Taliban's and a pro-Israeli dogmatism that in some respects mirrors Al Qaeda's jihadism. Both have gained currency and a measure of respectability particularly since September 11, 2001.

Events on that date seem to justify, on one hand, sweeping negative generalizations about the Arab world, Islam and jihadism. What gets spewed as verities would be rejected out of hand if spoken by Arabs or Muslims of, say, the European world and modern rationalism.

Accompanying the smears and sheer nonsense about Arabs and Muslims, is a Gentile knee-jerk hypersensitivity to anything that seems remotely critical of Jews, Judaism or the State of Israel. Here again, the position would be laughable if it were Jews or Israelis somehow raising eyebrows about, say, Canada and Canadians.

Some of us feel entitled to declare that
  • Sharia law should be banned or somehow rejected;
  • the voluntary wearing of the burqa or the niqab is an affront to human rights; and
  • any unashamed presence of Muslims in the USA or Europe is a jihadist slap in the face.
We forget, of course, that Sharia law is akin to Catholic canon law, the Jewish Talmud and the Methodist Book of Discipline. We ignore people who by choice are more traditional than ourselves.

We also make history revolve on the one incident that happened in two of our cities, ignoring the many similar and much more devastating incidents that happened in Arab cities and towns as Western powers (and Israel) engaged in fanatical pursuit of the holy dollar and holy petroleum. Our hurt matters, so theirs does not?

A similar and connected myopia concerns Semitic chauvinism, according to which we get illogical leaps, such as the notions that
  • Germany and Poland were uninhabitable places after 1945 for Germans and Poles who happened to be Jewish;
  • an act of piracy on the high seas that involves killing of unarmed civilians is a hallowed act of self-defense; and
  • when Israel is responsible for espionage against its main financier, the United States, or for massive killings of Lebanese civilians who aren't even Muslim, Tel Aviv must be  defended axiomatically.
We trivialize the real sufferings and deaths of millions under Nazism whenever Holocaust history gets twisted to silence irritating comments that, examined closely, may bear grains of truth. We canonize the law of the jungle whenever we condone the military disregard for international law leading to deaths by any power, or any region, ethnicity religion or ideology.

We actually dishonor Israel, as some of its current and recent leaders have done, when we allow its rogue governments to prevail in the court of public opinion.

The swath of land between the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean will not find peace until all of us admit our share of wrongdoings and follies, and begin to show tolerance for those of others with whom we disagree, or are even locked with in conflict.

We ought to lead to peace by example.

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