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Thoughts on the New Zealand massacre: The cultural dimension

Mar 24,2019 - Last updated at Mar 24,2019

May God have mercy on the souls of those massacred in Christchurch, and thanks to the people of New Zealand and their courageous Prime Minister Jacinda Arden, who renewed in me and the peoples of the world the hope that humanity is not dead in the West. Their courageous reaction lays bare the hypocrisy of many Western leaders who condone, indeed, encourage and slavishly adhere to the brutal racism of Zionism.

The bloodiest and deadliest conflicts in the history of man occurred in the last five centuries, mostly instigated by the rise of Western civilisation and the nations and ideas it produced. While no one can deny Western civilisation’s tremendous cultural, social, economic, scientific and technological achievements, there is a darker side to this great culture. In philosophy, the arts and sciences and, in fact, in every facet of human life, the Western civilisation’s intellectual contributions are immeasurable. But alongside this lies a darker side: imperialism, racism, genocide, political and religious persecution, slavery and terrible world wars. Proof of its racist strain and disdain for all other cultures can be seen in its machinery of war; never dreamt of by other cultures; which, today, threaten the total annihilation of life on earth. Extending this threat far beyond, some Western nations are allocating large sums of money and major resources to developing military bases in outer space.

Perhaps it is this command of almost limitless power, particularly the power to destroy, that has, of late, reawakened and reinvigorated the darker side of the Western psyche. The populist wave sweeping most Western nations — populist a term to camouflage hate-laden, racist white supremacist attitudes — has deep roots easily awakened by extremist right-wing demagogues. One would imagine that some of these Western nations, totally swept up by racist tendencies, which, in the not too distant past, suffered from fascist and Nazi ideologies; like Poland, Hungary, Italy and even Germany, would have learned something from their devastating experiences.

The shocking truth is that these societies still breed hate-laden ideologies, awakening and catering to the most basic animal instincts. More shocking still is that they are not poor but, on the contrary, are among the most prosperous. Some cities of New Zealand, Australia, Europe and America are not only the most prosperous but are considered the best, most comfortable and safest cities in the world. What did his Australian upbringing have to do with the delusional perpetrator’s actions? Why did Germany produce a Hitler, and why does it still harbour, among its youth, racist Nazi skinheads? Neither Germany or Italy, nor any Western country, is poor or “uncivilised”, so why are their hearts and borders closed to the few desperate poverty-stricken refugees from Asia, Africa and the Middle East, whose countries until now suffer from the cruel and humiliating generations-long Western colonisation and exploitation?

One reason could be the lack of confidence of the culture itself vis-à-vis other civilisations. Mahatma Gandhi, when asked what he thought of Western civilisation, is said to have replied that “it might be a good idea”. While his response contains total condemnation, it also contains an element of truth. Western culture seems to have an insatiable desire and need to prove and maintain its superiority over all others: industrial, military, social and economic. Feeling threatened could be provocation enough to take the dangerous initiative of pre-emptively striking out at perceived enemies. It is difficult to imagine that a great culture is feeling threatened when, in actual fact, over the past five centuries since its ascendancy, it is the major source of threat to itself and to others as well.

To be sure, Western civilisation produced great, even fabulous ideas, but it refuses to share. Even politically, when it produced, or reinvented the ancient Greek idea of democracy, which is the best solution to the dilemma of the distribution of power, it resisted the implicit idea upon which it rests; the dignity of man and the equality of every human being. This is true, not only of America, where slavery was practiced alongside “democracy” for almost 90 years after the declaration of independence and until the end of the civil war, but of almost every other Western nation.

Almost everywhere, “democracy” was thought to be for the “white man”, who had the “right” racial and religious orientations. Unlike the Arab Middle Eastern culture that rests on multiculturalism, ethnic and religious diversity, the Western culture, from the Peace of Westphalia on, is “one dimensional”; each European country having basically one religious sect as well as an almost pure race: British, French, Italian, Dutch. These peoples in these European countries did not get up in the morning to greet their Muslim, Durzi, Bahai, Armenian, Turkish or Kurdish neighbours, nor were their ears attuned to the sounds of diversity: Languages different from their own, the call to prayer, the sound of the shofar, the gong of the Hindu joining with the peal of church bells. Imagine their shock at having to share their space with people of colours, dress, languages, customs and cultures different from their own! Imagine too the disappointment and humiliation of the destitute refugees being blocked, even driven out, of these Western countries by those who still prosper from the exploitation of their peoples and their natural resources!

One of the problems of the fiercely capitalistic Western democracy is that it tends to degenerate to allowing, even encouraging, the election to public office of the least prepared or equipped common denominator of a populist, whose major qualification is money with which to buy the support and sponsorship of the “powers that be” and the media. How else can one explain the rise to power in the West, home to some of the greatest and best institutions of learning and culture, of the likes of Matteo Salvini, Viktor Orban, Geert Wilders, Marine Le Pen, even US presidents George W. Bush and Donald Trump.

Western culture needs a new perspective: a massive reeducation and reorientation towards the future to recognise other cultures and peoples as partners in humanity, not adversaries or enemies to be killed and kept out by walls.

One of the greatest challenges to peace in the world today is the unlimited and uncontrolled influence on the West of Zionism, which has calcified the hearts and minds of not just the survivors of the Holocaust, but most of the West itself, and contributed to the rise of the populist movement, which produced the new European and American leaders and the likes of the scandal-ridden Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu, whose lead they all seem to follow. This ideology must also be changed. Its followers, too, must look into themselves and help sponsor a United Nations reeducation campaign that can rely on governments, religious institutions and groups, and in particular the media, in every country to promote change and humanise attitudes, worldwide.

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