Even 68 years after the Second World War folded with the terrible spectre of two mushroom clouds over Japan, a disturbing thought has continued to haunt the people of Germany, rest of Europe and the United States of America.
This thought, or more so guilt, has made the state, governments and the media in these countries adopt certain political and social narratives and stances that are commendable.
These have gone a long way to nourish the respective societies in these countries with a consciousness that is largely based on intellectual faculties such as rationalism and an emotional disposition that is readily empathetic towards victims of mass violence and immediately repulsed by those who inflict such acts of ferocity.
Nevertheless, the mentioned remorse-ridden thought has at times also seen some European nations and the US overcompensate in this respect.
But what is this thought? For the Germans it’s about how the bulk of its society remained soporifically quiet when Adolf Hitler’s Nazis were marching thousands of men, women and children of the country’s Jewish community, along with the gypsies, communists and the physically and mentally handicapped to the harrowing gas chambers and twisted torture cells set up by the Nazis to ‘cleanse the country from impure Germans’.
For the rest of Europe (especially the United Kingdom), and for the US, the disturbing thought is about how for quite some time their governments decided to simply ignore the rise of fascism in Europe and as a matter of fact, at one time, even submissively engage with fascist regimes in Germany and Italy, simply discounting the fact that these were violent, racist and aggressive regimes with some rather twisted ideas about racial purity, governance and dominance.
Indeed over the decades, these thoughts made many European countries and the United States instil anti-racist and anti-hate aspects into the mainstream narrative, that began to appear in these countries after the war. A narrative in which the ‘civilised man’ did not mean a Christian out to colonise barbarians and teach them the ways of the civilised Caucasian races.
A civilised man now meant a tolerant, democratic and progressive person who was empathetic towards the plight of those suffering from the effects of dictatorships, corruption, racism and bigotry.
But whereas this narrative did help many European governments to engineer genuinely progressive societies and strong, caring states, some myopia did set in to define the new civilised and empathetic man.
For example, driven by the guilt of the past, the US and Europe went all out to accommodate the Jews who had suffered at the hands of the Nazis.
But in case of the Jewish state of Israel, the US and Europe looked the other way when (this time) the previous victims of fascist savagery disturbingly began to adopt some questionable methods of their former tormenters in their tussle against the Arabs.
Things got a lot more ironic and complicated when, at the same time, the new, tolerant and democratic man was asked to denounce the violent totalitarianism of communism by embracing the Arabs and the pious, Godly Muslims against the ungodly communists — in spite of the fact that the pious ones clearly had bigoted, delusional ideas about the glory of their faith and most even thought that Hitler was a rather fine gentleman.
Today, such topsy-turvy and inherently contradictory dictates of post-war Western thought have suddenly converted the once pious allies into dangerous barbarians (‘Islamo-fascists’).
Western fascism erected by the likes of Hitler, Mussolini and Spain’s Franco did not fragment into oblivion. It was displaced and became an organisational and operational inspiration for a number of mad men in Africa, Latin America and Asia/Middle-East, most of who were supported by the US and various European countries to keep the violent spectre of vicious, inhuman communism at bay.
The funny thing is, in the context of the Muslims, though they continue to be pushed aside and scorned at for being anti-Semitic, the West and the US still believe that their respective societies’ democratic and tolerant values will be successful in turning angry bigots into allies to oust anti-West/Israel regimes in the Middle East. The West’s on-going misadventure in Syria is a recent case in point.
On the other hand, it is perhaps the guilt of nurturing whole chunks of Muslim societies into becoming psychotic hoards of sectarian and religious bigotry and hatred during the fight against the evil communists that many Western countries today can be seen looking the other way when extremists wag their fingers at ‘Western debauchery’ in mosques within European capitals.
Ask any liberal Pakistani or Arab journalist or columnist and they are more than likely to tell you that most of the hate mail that they get comes from Pakistanis and Arabs living in the US, Canada and especially the UK.
Apologetic behaviour and narratives born from guilt, political cynicism or a distorted understanding of religious text, all contribute to the disquieting slumber, silence and confusion that follow a terrorist act.
It can be a military atrocity inflicted by the Israeli military against unarmed civilians in Gaza; a vicious, primeval blow against men, women and children by ‘Islamo-fascists;’ or mad men spewing utter hatred on TV, in a mosque or on the social media.
The West and the US must escape from the stranglehold of its guilt-ridden disposition because the key to solving such problems still lie with the developed countries, as the states in countries facing the major brunt of bigoted violence from Israel and religious extremists in Muslim countries are empty shells ruling over thoroughly (and dangerously) confused societies.
Nadeem F. Paracha is a cultural critic and senior columnist for Dawn Newspaper and Dawn.com
He tweets @NadeemfParacha
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