Civil society’s inertia to act on hate and intolerance
There’s a well-known quotation by the American writer Eric Hoffer. “Passionate hatred can give meaning and purpose to an empty life.”
Among the lives of people, individuals and cultures there are some who maintain that the best thing for a man or woman to strive for in this world is to take revenge on their enemies. The satisfaction of thirst for revenge cannot be clearer than it is today. And since the American Presidential Election of November 2016, America must accept ownership of being at the forefront of adding a venomous fire to hatred and intolerance.
Nowhere was this clearer than this past week in Washington, DC, where their president in a tweet timed perfectly, personally intimidated Marie Yovanovitch, the former US ambassador to Ukraine as she was speaking before House lawmaker’s impeachment hearings. Trump further put the knife in deeper by arrogantly saying, “I’m allowed to speak up.” It was as if his rage had no boundaries, other than for revenge against his enemy, Yovanovitch.
The great ninth-century Jewish philosopher Saadia Gaon commented that the thirst for revenge affords the pleasure of seeing discomfiture of its enemy, assuages the vehemence of its wrath and puts an end to excessive brooding. Saadia said that the man who is consumed by the desire for revenge gets into a frame of mind of refusing to accept intercession or entertaining any feeling of compassion or pity or listening to any plea of clemency. Is this where we are today?
My world is also your world
Over one thousand years later Saadia’s comments still reflect the attitude that we have learnt nothing. As we observe the hatred and intolerance between America’s Democrats and Republicans, political elites, Sunni and Shia, between Muslim and Jewish sense of victimhood, between Myanmar’s government and its Muslim Rohingya minority and Turkey and the Kurds, we find very little is based upon the two way acceptance that my world is also your world.
Many gloat over peoples misfortune, falsify historical evidence, Holocaust and genocide deniers abound with their wish to instil hatred in other cultures and religions that no civilized government has a hope in hell or will in stopping. It is a hatred that has its own direction, its own time and space, egged on by the perverse nature of extreme fanatics including the Jew-hating Hizb ut-Tahrir, utilizing the services of the ten-second clip, satellite dishes, mobile phones, photos of children flourishing guns and Internet web sites. It is hatred and intolerance also spurned on by educated societies to the masses of the uneducated and their educated children.
Lighting the match of hate and intolerance
Today, as many of us dream for the return of news commentators such as the Walter Cronkite’s of our world, we attempt to compare the difference between America’s fake news and the flag-waving, drum-rolling entertainment news programmes thrust upon us by many TV networks. For lighting the match of hate and intolerance is by no means a right of the privilege of our politicians, who are in direct competition with much of our media.
It’s been said that because today our media have very little moral fibre left, they have enhanced the egregious display of open prejudice pervading our society. The days where media were supposed to spread enlightenment has vanished. We have crossed the red line. It’s an utter travesty.
Nowhere is this clearer than with the British newspaper The Guardian, the darling of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, whose prejudice against Israel has continued for many years with unprecedented ferocity and malice. They have painted Israel as an apartheid state, even though anyone with even a passing knowledge of that country can see at a glance this is a baseless lie and despicable libel.
Has civil society today lost the will to react firmly against hate and intolerance in this topsy-turvy world we live in? Yes, probably it has. Is civil society prepared for the future? Probably not.