Sunday, August 03, 2014

Why don't you hate who I hate kill who I kill to be free?

I was on vacation in a somewhat remote part of Indonesia when all this latest Gaza violence began and thus remained blissfully unaware for some time.  It was only when I got back to the States that it started to dawn on me, in a horrifying way, what was happening.  

You know, I can understand Israelis being all rah rah rah kill 'em all.  Doesn't make it less evil, but humans, you may have noticed, do not tend to be exactly rational, and even though there's statistically almost no chance of any Israeli citizen being hurt or killed, one can understand the tendency to just want to solve the problem with violence.  Even if the violence won't work.  We in the US decided that after 9/11, the best course of action was to kill hundreds of thousands of people in a totally unrelated country (and I can say that, and you can nod along, but I think it really hasn't sunk in on a visceral level what an utterly monstrous crime that was), so…they're just following our lead, really.

But man, the fact that so many Americans--and, like, ALL of our elected officials--unconditionally support Israel's awfulness is, more than anything else that I can think of (and there's NO SHORTAGE of things I can think of), enough to make you despair for this country.  What the hell kind of depraved moral reasoning can conclude that Hamas is beyond the pale yet a government that murders orders of magnitude more people than Hamas could ever DREAM of is peachy keen?

It comes down to something that I never quite realized until I was working in a majority-Muslim country.  Sure, you realize that there's plenty of Islamophobia in the US.  But you almost certainly do not realize the extent to which the idea that Muslims are, if not necessarily terrorists, then still frighteningly other is deeply and completely engrained in every aspect of our culture, infecting everything and everyone.  We're like fish in water with Islamophobia.  You can't see it until you move to a different vantage point.  Sure, I've always been a vocal opponent of this kind of bigotry, but when I was working with mainly Muslims, I realized that, in spite of having grown up with Muslim friends, I still on some level held the same old unconscious prejudices--I was surprised to find that, really, they're just normal people, good and bad in the same proportions as everyone else.  It's shameful to admit, but there it is.  You can say, oh, you're just being solipsistic; that's just your neuroses.  But--not to put to fine a point on it--you're wrong.  I may sound like the most egomaniacal person ever when I say this, but the fact is, I know damn good and well that I'm more self-aware/introspective than most people, and if I'm having this problem, it is completely certain that it is, if not universal, then at least very, very widespread.

So, for instance, Homeland, which I may have complained about at some point: liberals will watch this, liberals will defend it, not even realizing that it's all just part of the problem.  It's a commonplace that you can freely say things about Muslims that, if said about Jews, would get you branded--quite fairly--as a neo-nazi.  I remember seeing a fox news clip on Colbert or Stewart, who can remember, where a dude was opining, re the missing Malaysian plane, that it comes from a Muslim country, so we HAVE to consider terrorism, and yeah, it's fox news, but STILL, the fact that this man apparently thinks of Muslim countries as novelty terrorism-themed societies like something out of a subpar Star Trek episode--and this is all part of the dialogue--is just beyond belief, and surely more widespread than you would like to imagine.

So.  It really goes to show the very real, very awful damage that this mindset can cause.  As you perhaps know, the US Senate passed a resolution, one hundred to zero, supporting Israel and attacking the notion that they have done anything wrong ever.  Nothing in US politics has ever made me so want to just break down and weep.  There is simply no other way to put it: though some of them might deny it, our elected representatives--ALL OF THEM--see Muslims as less than human; their lives as cheap and irrelevant.  What can one do in the face of such awfulness?  Seriously, tell me; I want to know.


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