🏠 Three weeks away from moving, and now every day is about getting stuff done. The forms I filled out yesterday were signed and handed in today. In a few days a general check (credit, criminal, et. al.) will be run and unless some weird NSA or FBI thing comes up I should be okay.* Also, my sweetheart and I found a desk and a chair perfect for my computer room, which means we’re one fancy litter box away from all the important things we needed for the move. (She even got me an ultra swanky coffee machine!)
Anyhow, the plan for today was to head to the apartment, turn in forms and take a nap (which may or may not have involved actual napping). Between the desk purchase, the forms, and a class that ran late, a lot got done but no nap. And we’re both anxious and exhausted. The proverbial moving train isn’t going to be slowing down soon.
The Bastille Day attack happened in Nice and Newt Gingrich echoed Donald Trump regarding some of the measure he wants to take to regulate Muslims, and deny more people more rights in the name of the War on Terror. Conversations online led to a thought experiment which, though I found the end result obvious, others did not. And so it’s worth repeating here.
A century ago, a different religious group was really disliked (and disliked pretty globally, not just in Germany). As an amateur historian, I’ve never really been able to find a legitimate gripe about the Jewish peoples**. All the common accusations, Deicide, Blood Libel, alleged betrayal of the Weimar Republic, all smack of the same sort of propagandism much like the Malleus Maleficarum accused witches of numerous enormities that have no anthropological or historic confirmation. Hatred of the Jewish peoples were ubiquitous to the point that the German eradication program, from which we coined the word Genocide was not entirely controversial. And yet not a hint of a legitimately kicked dog.
To which someone responded (I paraphrase): No Jew drove a truck rampaging through Nice, killing 80-odd people. Which leads me to my thought experiment:
Suppose, in the Socratic tradition, that a Jewish man did drive a truck through Nice, France, and killed a bunch of people, for no clear cause, (though it is consistent with prior attacks). Does that justify hatred of a race? A religion? A people?
(That is, the Socratic tradition of considering suppositions, even outlandish ones, in order to better understand truth and reality. Not the Socratic tradition of going on truck rampages.)
Let’s take it to the next level. Before Nice, organized Jewish militants raided and took hostages at Parisian opera-houses. Militants clashed with police. There was gunfire and explosions and fires, and in the end over two hundred civilian lives were lost. Prior to the Paris attacks, a notoriously yellow editorial newspaper was raided by angry militants over disrespectful satire of important Jewish figures, and many of the employees, including notable artists and columnists were gunned down.
Let’s keep going. Suppose a dance hall in Orlando Florida was set afire by a Jewish arsonists. About fifty died, and another fifty had to be treated for smoke inhalation. Detectives are not really sure if the guy was part of a Jewish radical group or just hated the Charleston.
Suppose the previous December a radicalized Jewish couple brought a bomb to a Christmas party to which they were invited. Fifteen died. The couple were killed in a shoot-out with the police. That year kids were afraid of their wrapped Christmas presents.
Suppose Jewish militants planted dynamite stacks loaded with nails at three locations in Brussels. Thirty died. Another three hundred required nurses to pull nails out of their flesh. A fourth dynamite stack was found undetonated. Three radical Jews were tracked by Belgian law enforcement before they were killed or committed suicide to evade capture.
Suppose two young Jewish immigrant brothers created a home-made bomb to strike at a parade in Boston. Three died. About 200 were injured. The entire town mobilized to capture them. They were hanged by the mob.
Suppose a team of Jewish radicals blew up the London underground light rail tunnels in the hopes of collapsing enough of the system to sabotage it entirely. About fifty Londoners died with another thousand injured. Some tunnels did collapse but were reconstructed and the train system returned to running within the year.
Suppose also that a handful of radicalized Jewish sabotage teams successfully attacked the Eiffel Tower on a parade day, causing it to topple into the crowds. In a coordinated attack the Empire State Building in New York City was brought down, Several other smaller coordinated attacks happened across the US and Europe. All in all, over 2000 civilians died in what was the most terrifying and bloodiest attack in US history. French morale went into a nosedive and the US and European economies went into recession.
Suppose, during all this time, many other attacks occurred by other radicals, some who looked Jewish, some who didn’t. Many were crazy. Many were clearly radical and spouted traditional Jewish anti-Western slogans as they killed. Sometimes it was just a guy with a gun or a knife. Sometimes it was a guy with a box of dynamite. Sometimes it was a trusted friend or soldier or police officer who went radical. Over any year, as few as a hundred and as many as a thousand would be lost to such attacks.
Suppose also, all this while, Rabbis and Jewish community leaders would loudly condemn and even protest the attacks. Many victims were Jews, themselves. And yet, outspoken Jewish militants celebrated the attacks and encouraged more in underground periodicals. Most Jews were clearly peaceful and wanted the attacks to stop as well.
Supposing this campaign by radical militants continued through the 1890s and into the early twentieth century, would it have warranted the German final solution? Does a campaign like this by a small minority of a people justify annihilating twenty-one million souls in pursuit of a Jew-free Europe? Does a terror campaign by a small number of radicals warrant the ghettos, the hunters, the task forces, the work camps, the death camps? 2500 Jews per hour up in smoke from one facility? Is that warranted by a small number of militants on a war campaign against the rest of us?
If it’s not the case for Jews then why would it be the case for Muslims in today’s war on terror? And (supposing for a second) we decided it was justified, why would we not also justify the extermination of all of Christendom based on the violence of some radical groups (In this case, Nazi Germany and The United States would both serve.)
It’s repulsive to me how easy it is for some to call for social cleansing when they are not the ones to be cleansed.
* I’m a bit paranoid about the government agencies all focused on anti-terror who might each find my opinions too seditious to leave me be without at least putting me on the terror watch list.
It turns out, this is a bear-rule situation: I don’t have to run faster than the bear, I only have to run faster than you.
As the NSA has discovered, more proverbial hay in their big data haystack has elevated the background noise to where rebellious radicals like me are drowned out by thousands of other dissenters and subversives (maybe even millions!). Many are more radical than I am, and the bar for an agency to take notice might be closer to I have a bomb and I’m going to shoot up the Senate! Tomorrow! than those of us who say Um, this trend is disturbing and may lead to violence and infrastructure failure. Considering the stories of those who are on the various bad-guy lists and whose lives have been made more difficult in their discovery of this unfortunate circumstance, I won’t credit our agents with being smart. But I will credit our radicals with being crazier and more dangerous than I am (hence hence proverbially running slower than I am from the proverbial bear.)
** from the era circa 1880-1920 — displaced Palestinians seem to have some legitimate gripes regarding the post-war Israeli State, being displaced and being oppressed, something acknowledged more in Israel than here in the United States.
Afterthought: And this is where the prosecution points to my blog: I have a bomb and I’m going to shoot up the Senate! Tomorrow! Clearly, obviously a statement of intention. I even put it in italics! Twice!