Local and international events of the last couple of weeks have been too much for most of us to manage emotionally or intellectually. I really don’t want to recite a litany of woes but some of those events have to be singled out for what they say about human beings and the way we are programmed to think or, maybe, not think.
I am pinpointing the acts of hatred. Hatred is a powerful emotion that feeds off of envy, resentment and feelings of helplessness and inadequacy which most of us experience at some point in our life and which, fortunately, many of us overcome when we start to realise our own individual potential and gain some control of our destiny. It is a powerful emotion that unscrupulous politicians hijack at their will. History is littered with horror stories of people manipulated to dislike others with such intensity that they perform the most inhumane acts against fellow human beings.
As I write, the news flash is that 12 people were just gunned down in a bar outside Los Angeles, we have yet to know why. Certainly, the mortal attack on Jewish people in the synagogue in Pittsburgh a fortnight ago happened partly because of the current, increasingly acceptable “them and us” rhetoric in the US. That white supremacist perpetrator had Jewish people in his sights that day, but it could have been Black, Oriental, gay, or Hispanic people instead, it is just a question of having a pet hate.
President Trump does not accept the correlation between hate speech and hate action. He is a staunch defender of Jewish people but fails to grasp that anti-Semitism is a cultural fact, established since the Crusades, a given that not even the horrendous extermination of 6 million Jews seems able to eradicate. It waits to be ignited and his support for racist groups and his belittling of those who oppose them does just that. His verbal attack on billionaire George Soros, often vilified by right-wingers as supporting the demographic replacement of white Americans, or “white genocide” and of funding the march to the US by that band of Central American refugees, led directly to the left wing, Jewish philanthropist receiving one of the mail pipe bombs that President Obama and Hillary Clinton received, all Trump hate figures.
There is an aspect of entrenched hatred of Jewish people that fascinates. It is the tireless effort to camouflage itself with self-flagellation over the holocaust being the worst human atrocity in the history of the world. It is well documented that some European governments were also desirous of a solution to the "Jewish problem," maybe not as final as Hitler’s, but to an extent they accepted the benefits of his dirty work. Attacks on Jews in Europe have reportedly increased 57 per cent since 2017, not withstanding the illegality of racism and the ever-vigilant Jews, lest anyone forgets the holocaust.
Europeans, who also sold uncountable millions of Africans into slavery for centuries–purging them of all connections with their culture, language, religion and people, inventing specific instruments of torture, branding their bodies, shackling them, lynching them and repeatedly beating them close enough to death so that they died several deaths, making them go hungry, poor and bereft of all dignity – often do not think any of that is as reprehensible a crime as the holocaust, since the intention of slavery was not extermination. This reveals something beyond hatred of the enslaved. The dehumanisation of people of African origin is a cultural thing that, like anti-Semitism, lies just beneath the skin, but unlike the holocaust, those who became rich on slavery, especially the British who excelled at it, so glossed over it in their history books that only in more recent times have the connections between wealth and slavery and continued poverty been made by modern historians. It is bizarre that individuals still refute the fact that Christianity enabled the debasement of non-Europeans by incorporating it into their belief system.
As division and hatred spread we should remind ourselves of history, lest we repeat it. Historians warn us that as historical events retreat in time and cease to condition our behaviour we recreate the conditions that lead to those and similar events. We should also be aware of abuses of power, such as the surreal and brazen state execution of a well-known, dissenting Saudi journalist and the belief that it would have no consequence.
At home, we should be worried that the people paid to keep us safe will shoot to kill, not maim, as they should. Those who think that is right are misguided because only our institutions, healthy ones, stand between us and mayhem, if you don’t believe that, witness current events on Capitol Hill.