Monday, July 24, 2006

Generational Differences

My father forwarded me this email, introducing it as "very interesting:"

"I do not know if this article is real, but it sounds accurate to me.

Subject: Spanish newspaper article, something to think about.
All European life died in Auschwitz By Sebastian Vilar Rodrigez(*)

I walked down the street in Barcelona, and suddenly discovered a terrible truth - Europe died in Auschwitz. We killed six million Jewsand replaced them with 20 million Muslims. In Auschwitz we burned aculture, thought,creativity, talent.

We destroyed the chosen people, truly chosen, because they produced great and wonderful people who changed the world.The contribution of this people is feltin all areas of life: science, art, international trade, and above all, as the conscience of the world. These are the people we burned.And under the pretense of tolerance, and because we wanted to prove toourselves that we were cured of the disease of racism, we opened our gates to 20 million Muslims, who brought us stupidity and ignorance, religious extremism and lack of tolerance, crime andpoverty due to an unwillingness to work and support their families with pride.They have turned ourbeautiful Spanish cities into the third world, drowning in filth and crime.

Shut up in the apartments they receive free from the government, they plan the murder and destructionof their naive hosts.And thus, in our misery, we have exchanged culture for fanatical hatred,creative skill for destructive skill, intelligence for backwardness and superstition. We have exchanged the pursuit of peace of the Jews of Europe and their talent for hoping for a better future fortheir children, their determined clinging to life because life is holy, for those who pursue death, for people consumed by the desire for death for themselves and others, for our children and theirs.What a terrible mistake was made by a miserable Europe."

My father and I have come to verbal blows on this subject before (and similar ones- Israel vs. Palestine, the 9/11 response). Dad is of the generation of American Jews who grew up during WWII, not concerned for their personal safety but fearing for European relatives, angry with America for not getting involved sooner. The establishment of Israel was a moment of unmitigated celebration for them.

I am of the generation that questions the orthodoxy of the Israel story. I have also spent time in countries like France, which is not as pro-Israel as we are, and Senegal, which is of course Muslim. I am proud of my Jewish heritage but also question the circumstances which brought Israel into being and am not unhesitatingly supportive of everything it does.

I'm digressing, somewhat, but want to put the email in the context of my dad's worldview, and my response in the context of mine. The subject here, though, is European Muslims.

Anyway, I wrote my father back (quickly)-

"Dad, this is so wrong on so many levels- I'm happy to explain in detail but here are a few key points:

1. The Jews weren't "replaced" by Muslims. The Jews in Western Europe, anyway, were part of the middle class (for the most part, of course, with exceptions). The muslims arrived mostly from at the time European colonies in North Africa to do manual labor that the Europeans refused to do, at wages too low for Europeans (much like Hispanic immigrants in the US today). Muslims from North Africa were INVITED to do factory jobs (in France, anyway)- the fact that the jobs ran out and the people found themselves stranded in a strange land with no work is not really the fault of the Muslims. It had nothing to do with "proving to ourselves we're not racist"- if Europeans wanted to prove that they probably shouldn't have colonized North Africa in the first place.

2. I take exception also to the idea that Muslims haven't donated a great deal to the artistic and cultural fabric of the world. You and I have argued this before and I'm happy to show you examples of what I mean- but under the Ottoman Empire, for instance, places like Turkey, Persia were great centers of learning and culture. In Muslim Africa, Mali and Senegal had universities that were established more or less concurrently with those in Europe. Sure, the learning and culture were very DIFFERENT from that of the West, but that hardly makes their traditions better, or worse. (By the way, much of Southern Spanish culture owes its roots to the Moors, Muslims who occupied that region for centuries. In other words, Spain would NOT BE SPAIN if it weren't for Muslim history and influence.)

3. True that in France Muslim youth have been rioting and generally not helping their cause- violence like that is always wrong. You have to take into consideration the broader situation of Muslims in Europe, though- they immigrated, as I said above, largely at the INVITATION of the European countries, and second- and third- generations of Muslims now find themselves poorly educated, without job opportunities, looked down upon by the broader population, and definitely susceptible to extremist thought. Of course, every individual is ultimately responsible for his or her own actions, but European governments have recognized that they have to do more to offer their Muslim populations equal opportunity for education and advancement that is available to the rest of the population. Until that happens, the violence will probably continue.

Now you know I'm not devaluing the horrible events of WWII and the devastating effect they had on the cultural, political, economic situation of Europe in general- Europe lost a great deal when they lost the educated, worldly, cultured Jewish population. But I get very upset when I read something like this- it's propaganda, and doesn't take into account the actual historical facts."

There is of course a longer response to my dad's forward that needs to be made, but as usual, I don't have the time.


At 2:29 PM, Blogger Intellectual Insurgent said...

Thank you for responding to that trash. Only someone completely ignorant of history and stubbornly racist could pass off any of that crap as fact.

At 2:21 PM, Blogger Chris said...

Interesting. People are just people, you know? 'Tis a pity that we have to label each other Jew and Christian and Moslem and Hispanic and White and On and On and On...

I can understand the author of the newspaper article feeling the way he does - it's hard to argue with a person's emotions when they see their neighborhood going downhill. I cannot, though, understand how he could put it on paper without realizing he's arguing from sheer emotion rather than fact. And I'm not sure how the author could, upon re-reading his work, fail to realize the sweeping generalizations he used are, for the most part, false (as are most sweeping generalizations, generally speaking). He does indeed come across as a simple-minded racist. I hope that's not the case - the world has too many already.

At 3:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't help but wonder if the Spanish newspaper that published this crap would also be willing to publish something so inflammatory and ignorant about Jews.

At 8:28 AM, Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

I agree for the most part, but of course, as you say, a proper response would require a book. Chris makes good points too, People are people. I want to point out that in truth the Jews of Eastern Europe had it worse than those middle class types in France and Germany, etc., because they were mostly not middle class and had no money and no guns and no choices but to die.

Europe's guilt is in taking a liberal posture, but being none the less traditionally racist. That Muslims in the US are not as marginalized as in say France, is accompanied by the observation that they are NOT rioting here and tend to assimilate better and prosper further where they are allowed to.

But understanding that the rise of fundamentalism and religious aggression in certain islamic countries is tied to historical mistreatment by the Christian West is not the same thing as excusing hijackings and mass murder and continuous assault on civilians, nor does it excuse faith-based mistreatment of Muslims by their own governments.

The question never was about the relative value of one ethnic group over another. I rank societies more by the way they treat human rights. But a correlate to that question is how you treat the rights of someone who considers you as vermin because of your ethnicity.

What I do resent is the idea that I must either respect a nation or religious establishment that will kill someones children over a property dispute, that will strangle girls for dating the wrong guy, that maims their daughters for perverted religious/sexual reasons - and so forth, or be called a racist.

A cornered rat is a dangerous animal, but let out of the corner, it's still a rat and before you misinterpret this as racist, what I mean is that I can understand why Hizbullah, for instance hates America, but I'm not naive enough to think that addressing the problem of Palestinian rights will make them into tolerable neighbors.

At 4:50 PM, Blogger LNaranjoiv said...

ooooooooo, Noisette.....has jewish roots? Wow......wonders never cease. Talk about interesting.

Your Dad's from the WW 2 days?
Now there's a blast of culture shock:
Old jews v new jews.
Those who knew, and those who don't have a clue.

Those MUST be interesting discussions you two have. I'm sure, your father allows for your not knowing, ..then again, it's an opinion.

I've been thru Aushwitz 4 times in my life......unreal. No one can truely fathom the wanting destruction of 1 million people, much less 6.

How do you describe 2 tons of human hair, awaiting shipment to someone who's never been thru that time, or been thru that area?

The sheer enormanity of it....
It's been said, " One death is tragic, 100 is inhuman, but 100,000 is a statistic. "

If you live in Sacramento, we have approximately 400,000 people who live here.
In four months time, that's how many Hungarian Jews died in the gas chambers of Aushwitz.

People don't understand WHY, Israel does what it does.
6 million people, is the reason.

When that generation finally passes on, the new one will have the burdon of explanation. So far, they seem to not comprehend, why their parents did what they did.

Hopefully, the world as a whole, will never have to bear witness to another 6 million to answer that question.

Then again, that's MY opinion.
PS....Aushwitz, Dauchau, Sachenhausen, Treblinka, and 2-3 others.....all places I went to while stationed in Europe.

Nice blog btw.


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