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Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews -- For those who like their news and truths frank and sharp

The ‘everything is gray’ fallacy that has captured Dutch-modern ‘thinking’

Two decades of perfecting the art of false moral equivalence

For a long time, a specific, dominant middle-class way of ‘reasoning’ had to keep the slightly privileged passive. It was almost an addiction to seeking the flipside of anything. Was Christian religion opium to the people, Marx had seen nothing yet. The ‘on the one hand/on the other hand’ copout guarantees that mediocre people won’t be activists for a better world.

Yet, in the Netherlands, this philosophy of life has mutated into a virus that infected the many. Nazi collaborators were not all bad, the persecuted were not all good, and voila, genocide was erased from the picture.

Of course, reducing everything to black-and-white representations is an exaggeration too. But, so is declaring everything gray. If Hitler loved dogs, it doesn’t make him less evil or more human. The very attempt to humanize him is evil. And, if modern-day saints were oversexed, that’s almost trivial, as long as they didn’t violate anyone. It doesn’t take away anything from their work to make the world a better place. It’s almost evil itself to hold against them that they were less than perfect.

Old Dutch sayings aren’t always true. “Where two fight, two are guilty.” “Truth lies in the middle, trampled by the fighting parties.” Not always.

And thus they ‘analyze’ the assault by Russia on Ukraine. Russia is a dictatorship but in Ukraine there was corruption, so no one is perfect. Disappeared is that Ukraine is a democracy (and every democracy is flawed, so far) and Putin is a cruel tyrant who reigns with impunity.

On both sides, people are killed, which is terrible for both sides. True. But, it’s wicked to erase the difference between on the one hand the Russian soldiers (misled to be ‘liberators,’ or blinded by nationalistic zeal) who violate a sovereign State, destroy cities, endanger the nuclear reactors, and kill the population which they deliberately target, which is a war crime, and on the other hand, the Ukrainian soldiers and public who kill to defend their land and lives. Yes, if A hits B with a stick, they both have a connection to the stick, but it makes a difference on which end you are. We don’t envy villains, but that doesn’t equate them to their victims.

Both sides lie and call Nazis! But one is aggressor, and one violated, trying to defend itself. If the rapist and the raped both scream, they’re not equal.

You must become aware of fake news and con artists as follows. Consider the bias of your news source. Let’s say it always trashes X people. So, when they write something good about them, that could indicate that it’s true. Yet, it could be a bait, a token piece of truth to win your undeserved trust! At first, you might need to rely on long-term news hawks to learn the playing field. Yet, it’s a giveaway when they always blame Jews or Israelis.

But what if these false moral equalizers are right after all? Here comes the test case. Whose fault is the conflict in the Middle East, the Jews or the Muslims? Suddenly all nuance is gone. Of course, Israel. Poor Palestinians. This is your proof that this middle road stance is just old bigotry (evil) in disguise. They are not really taken in by ‘nuance.’ It’s just a lame excuse to allow for evil and do nothing. But, if they see both sides, I tell you they are naïve, uninformed accomplices, just parroting bigotry by others.

In any case, stay away from moral gray. Take a position. Any position. If it turns out you were wrong, you can later apologize. But if you choose ‘neutral’ passivity, apologizing will be too much effort too—I predict.

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, previously a daily blog contributor to the TOI. He often makes his readers laugh, mad, or assume he's nuts—close to perfect blogging. As a frontier thinker, he sees things many don't yet. He's half a prophet. Half. Let's not exaggerate. He doesn't believe that people observe and think in a vacuum. He, therefore, wanted a broad bio that readers interested can track a bit what (lack of) backgrounds, experiences, and educations contribute to his visions. * This year, he will prioritize getting his unpublished books published rather than just blog posts. Next year, he hopes to focus on activism against human extinction. To find less-recent posts on a subject XXX among his over 1500 archived ones, go to the right-top corner of a Times of Israel page, click on the search icon and search "zuiden, XXX". One can find a second, wilder blog, to which one may subscribe, here: https://mmvanzuiden.wordpress.com/ or by clicking on the globe icon next to his picture on top. * Like most of his readers, he believes in being friendly, respectful, and loyal. However, if you think those are his absolute top priorities, you might end up disappointed. His first loyalty is to the truth. He will try to stay within the limits of democratic and Jewish law, but he won't lie to support opinions or people when don't deserve that. (Yet, we all make honest mistakes, which is just fine and does not justify losing support.) He admits that he sometimes exaggerates to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quite a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * Sometimes he's misunderstood because his wide and diverse field of vision seldomly fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what some love about him. He has written a lot about Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (including basic statistics), Politics (Israel, the US, and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight reality), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, LGBTQIA+, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), the Climate Crisis, Ecology and Veganism, Affairs from the news, or the Torah Portion of the Week, or new insights that suddenly befell him. * Chronologically, his most influential teachers are his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach, and, lehavdil bein chayim lechayim, Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff, and Rav Meir Lubin. This short list doesn't mean to disrespect others who taught him a lot or a little. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, and disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed. He aims to bring a fresh perspective rather than harp on the obvious and familiar. When he can, he loves to write encyclopedic overviews. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds should be disputed. In short, his main political positions are among others: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, anti those who abuse democratic liberties, anti the fake ME peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, pro-Science, pro-Free Will, anti-blaming-the-victim, and for down-to-earth, classical optimism, and happiness. Read his blog on how he attempts to bridge any tensions between those ideas or fields. * He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (https://diethylstilbestrol.co.uk/studies/des-and-psychological-health/), born in 1953 to his parents who were Dutch-Jewish Holocaust survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork. He grew up a humble listener. It took him decades to become a speaker too, and decades more to admit to being a genius. But his humility was his to keep. And so was his honesty. Bullies and con artists almost instantaneously envy and hate him. He hopes to bring new things and not just preach to the choir. * He holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam) – is half a doctor. He practices Re-evaluation Co-counseling since 1977, is not an official teacher anymore, and became a friendly, powerful therapist. He became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years, he was active in hasbara to the Dutch-speaking public. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second-generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having an original peek outside of your cultural bubble. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me.
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