That Obscure Object of Ire

Here’s an admission: I was going to write an article about BDS for my next Times of Israel blog post, but a funny thing happened on the way to that goal.

My most recent piece for the TOI garnered hate speech.

OK, as invective goes, it was pretty tame. No one threatened to kill me or hurt my family; I have received content of the latter nature in the past, and it’s not pleasant. So this time around, the diatribes were pretty easy to shrug off.

What wasn’t, however, was the realization that a pattern had emerged in the vitriol directed at me. This recurring motif was most fascinating because it was hardly personal, indicative of a distaste for an entire population rather than just one individual … despite the fact that the individual was the supposed target of all the anger. It was a rage derived from deep-rooted unhappiness, which I alluded to in my last essay. And such fury was reserved for a single religious group, though blaming a faith for the evils of the world is as sophistic as arguments come.

Nevertheless, the blame came through loud and clear. It focused on Jews like the sights of a blanks-filled gun. They were what was wrong—not the people who condemned them. Jews, their books, their teachings were bad. My own culture was the problem. My own religion was the villain.

This ideology is absolutely intriguing. Generalizing about anything is a fallacious way to think, because it’s individuals who are responsible for their own actions—not philosophies, races or creeds. So why do it? How could people believe that a collection of souls is inherently evil, rather than look at the components individually and judge according to human worth? Do we perceive all restaurants in the same light, all museums, all stores, if they all belong to the same overarching categories? Aren’t there gradations, differences among them, vast ones, canyons?

It’s the same way with people. Assessing any unique person by jumping to conclusions about his or her faith or belief system is absurd. Those who do it are making assumptions that are formulated in a specious way. No two people are the same. No two religions are the same. And no two ways of life are, of course, the same.

I didn’t laugh at the hate speech I was subjected to, though I showed some to my wife, and she was suitably bemused by it. I consider it serious stuff, yet I’m more interested in the bile than bothered by it. Such commentary smacks of a profound dissatisfaction with life and the need to use others as scapegoats—because self-analysis, as a possibility, is too frightening a prospect to consider. I will continue to maintain, however, that it’s necessary if these anti-Semitic individuals are to break out of the hate-saturated funk. Look at yourself, not another religion. Reflect on you.

The Jews, as a people, aren’t to blame for all the world’s problems. No one population is. We all have our share in the challenges of our planet. Let’s not make it worse for everybody overall.

About the Author
Simon Hardy Butler is a writer and editor living in New York City. He has written for publications ranging from Zagat to Adweek and has interviewed innumerable people—including two Auschwitz survivors whose story may be heard at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s website. His views and opinions are his own.
Related Topics
Related Posts