Friday, November 03, 2006

We were discussing the issue of evil in my discussion group, triggered by Dante's "Purgatory", in which he tries to ponder, among other things, what evil was, how it translates to the politics and conventions of a mainstream thinking, how it is enabled. The discussion veered, naturally, to the most recent incarnation of evil known to man: the Holocaust, with the usual moral and intellectual helplessness that accompany such attempts. In no time a leap was made into our own era and examples offered for today's evil: Abu Ghraib and, please don't gasp, Israel's war on Hizzbala in Lebanon. Somehow, from the successful industrialization of genocide planned and executed by the Nazis against the Jewish people, severing at least one third of its body, somehow a plausible link was made to a group of a few aberrant American soldiers torturing Iraqi detainees and more astoundingly, a "present day" example suggested, with all the sanctimonious equanimity of the pseudo-Leftist mind, in Israel's retaliation to an unprovoked, unjustified attack upon its soldiers, its citizens, its land.

It's no coincidence that such connections are made, naturally, easily, in Montreal, which saw a "peace" rally this summer whose banners screamed with frightening zeal, reminiscent of that other dark time in modern history, when Jews became the target of universal hatred: "we are all Hizzbala".

Here * is Beryl Wajman's description of a similar incident with similar echoes of this conversation I've just reported:

Then came the zinger. She asked me if I was a Jew. I snapped back “I’m a Canadian. And a democrat. I don’t define myself by religion. Are you a Catholic?” I demanded to know what possible reason she had for this question, and why I am so often asked my religion only by Francophone reporters. Defensively, she replied it was for “context”. I asked what “context”? Her answer was symptomatic of the social sickness that has made so many fey and feckless and too many so intolerant. She said that the “peace” marchers had groups such as the Canadian Islamic Congress participating and sponsoring. I asked “So what?” We were there as free citizens. That was our title. That was our tie.

But she persisted. It was as if she could not understand that people can act out of individual initiative and character without the benediction of any group. Her face exhibited a recoil of bitter resentment bordering on rage. It was as if I had mouthed a blasphemy so heinous as to make me an enemy of the people. She tried once again and I said that there were three Jews out of a dozen in this group. Does that make it a Jewish conspiracy? “No,” I said, “we were not tied to any Jewish organization, but the very fact that you ask shows that you have the age-old prejudice that considers so many outsiders, particularly Jews, as ‘les autres’ – the others.”

Openly flustered and upset she then abruptly terminated the interview and accused me of pre-judging her. She quickly disconnected her tape recorder from the microphone and stuffed them both into her purse while reaching for her umbrella that I had been holding over her. In a hurry to cross the street, she turned from me but I persisted in reminding her of one thing. The fact that she – a journalist – a member of a profession that should prize individualism and independence, could not accept that people can act without regard to any collectivity was part of a disease destroying our society. So much has been surrendered to statocratic collectivist consensus that even freedom of thought, action and assembly are suspect. And, sadly, the age-old spectres of the “Jew” as outsider, of the “Jewish conspiracy”, still rear its ugly head.

I reminded her of what a Francophone Senator once told me. That the real “two solitudes” in Quebec were not between anglophones and francophones but between those francophones that were the heirs of Papineau and Lafontaine, Laurier and Trudeau, and those francophones who were the heirs of the era of “le grande noirceur”, Abbé Groulx and Adrien Arcand. I told her to reflect on whose heir she was. I reminded her that Quebecers still had much to learn from yesterday’s leaders not from today’s. That if “sang et langue” – blood and language – were still the litmus tests of legitimacy, then Laurier’s boast of a pluralist Quebec where, “It has been my great pride to be excommunicated by Roman priests and condemned by Protestant parsons,” was betrayed.

With a half-sneer and a toss of her head that almost sent her earphones flying, she marched off.

Maybe the good people who jump so easily ---from Nazis feeding Jews to the gas chambers to Israel attacking Hizbolla's Katiusha launching pads aimed at killing Jews-- and make these easy comparisons, do not know any better? And why is that, when all they need is just look, see, and observe facts and evidence?

Who Are Hezbollah? And what do they want?

*If anyone reading this is at a loss to understand the title of Mr. Wajsman's article, here is the reference:

“Anti-Semitism is the swollen meanness, injustice and envy of pygmy minds.” Mark Twain



Beryl P. Wajsman


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