Anyway, several of my circle have said really wise things about terrorism and xenophobia and I wanted to draw attention to them. Regarding the recent terrorist attacks:
- I really appreciated monanotlisa's measured thoughts on Paris and Beirut, including:
It's about doing the best we can, the best each of us can do.And if that's de-escalation on the smallest scale, in a conversation, in a blog, then so be it. I'll keep trying.
- vatine has written something like this too many times:
So, terrorism, big scary shit. That's rather the point of it, it is essentially "political discourse by instilling terror". It works, if we let it [...] The whole "step up the security, investigate everyone, militarise the police" is letting it work. I mean, that is essentially what [terrorists] want. Make people (some, or all) sufficiently unhappy to cause them to join their cause.
- Yes, it's important to respond to terrorism with increased acceptance and continuing as normal, and not with xenophobia and repression. Still, I agree with seekingferret's point about the rhetorical framing:
"ISIS wants us to respond by doing X, therefore we should not do X." Whatever X might be, I want to say that I think this is a really stupid argument to make [...] Of course, some of the Xes in "therefore we should not do X" are pretty transparently things we ought not to do anyway. "ISIS wants the West to explode in Islamophobic hatred, therefore we shouldn't explode in Islamophobic hatred," is dumb, but "We shouldn't explode in Islamophobic hatred because it's immoral and evil" is not dumb.
- smhwpf has written very informatively about the refugee situation in Sweden, making sense of the contradictory reports in the foreign media claiming either that Sweden is a perfect country of amazing altruism welcoming refugees with open arms, or that Sweden has evilly closed its borders with the rest of the EU and is full of racists who deliberately set fire to refugees.
- sovay's beautifully written, heart-wrenching There are two ghosts on my mother's side of the family. (My Yiddish is really patchy but I think the title is a quote from someone asking who will perform the Jewish mourning rituals for them.)
- And smhwpf again, with a more personal perspective: Once upon a time, a century and change ago, my ancestors were among the many millions [...] fleeing the hatred and slaughter of the times.
At least as much as I recognize my own history in touching stories intended to humanize migrants and refugees, I recognize my own fears in the knee-jerk xenophobic and racist reactions against immigrants. Lots of stuff on social media pointing out that people are reacting to the influx of Syrians and other Muslim immigrants in very similar ways to how racists in Europe and America reacted to the arrival of Jews trying to escape from the Nazis. And it's not Godwin's law, it's an actual relevant valid comparison that really does need to be made, because seeing refugees as a threat does in fact lead directly to sending people "back" to die at the hands of the organizations and governments trying to murder them. But on a trivial level, the effect on me personally is to remind me over and over again how easy it is for an integrated, multi-cultural society to fall apart. When I see acquaintances, perfectly nice cultured people, who would be absolutely horrified at the idea of being thought "racist", reposting and amplifying anti-Muslim memes, or downplaying how bad racism actually is and seeing both sides, I feel extremely conscious that these people, whom I'm on friendly terms with, would not defend me, probably wouldn't even let me in their country, if I were the target of the sort of stuff that's currently directed against Muslims. And I say "if" but emotionally it feels like "when"; anti-Muslim rhetoric is so very similar to anti-semitism, and I basically expect people who hate Muslims because they're vaguely foreign and wear weird clothes and don't support our values probably hate me too.
I know, this sort of rhetoric is supposed to promote empathy, not to make me scared. And very probably I am in fact safe compared to brown-skinned people and Muslims. But I feel I don't really need to be reminded that xenophobia leads to scary consequences, I am already scared of it.
I prefer comments at Dreamwidth. There are currently comments there. You can use your LJ address as an OpenID, or just write your name.