The Ugliness of Exceptionalism by Mark Ulyseas
On the hour, every hour, one bears witness to mind numbing hate that often translates into violence; Bombings, stabbings, torture and more. Everyone involved in this violence holds either – knife, gun, bomb or some other weapon with hate in their hearts while chanting the mantra of exceptionalism. The words and actions by these people are merely a means to an end – an end that results in false victory by one over another for the purpose of possession or profit, real or imagined. The real intentions of the victors are spiced by a colonial mentality that simmers in the cauldron of perpetual hate for the other …the pathological need to sanitise one’s life of all those that do not belong in the perceived world of the exceptionals. Sacred symbols are abused. Words and phrases are appropriated…tradmarked …so no one else has access to them, and if they do they are immediately branded racist. Example: Black Lives Matter, Jewish Lives Matter and to hell with the rest of the world.
The word nigger can be used by a black against another, including a non-black person. Yet if a non-black person uses this word it immediately becomes racist. This is prevalent in the USA and other western countries.
Semite is a term for a Jew, Arab or any other member of an ancient tribe of the ME. Antisemitism was a phrase coined in Germany in the 19th century for attacks against Jews. This term was popularized in Germany in 1879 as a scientific-sounding term for Judenhass, which means Jew-hatred. Now anyone who is a non- Jew and is even mildly critical of a Jew’s actions (not related to his/her religion) are immediately branded antisemitic (but Jews can criticise themselves and others, this is acceptable). Even criticism of the State of Israel is considered antisemitic. But abuse against Arabs in Israel and elsewhere is alright. Kill them. Bomb their countries, seize their lands and sell them weapons to slaughter one another and more. Call them savages. These actions are not antisemitic.
It matters little to the colonial mind-set that the sacred swastika of over 1.6 billion Hindus, Jains and Buddhists is deliberately confused with the Nazi swastika LINK. This disrespect is apparent in most parts of the western world – particularly in Europe, the home of the colonials.
Curiously the republication of Mein Kampf, the autobiography of Adolf Hitler, in Germany, is an instant sell out. Meanwhile in Japan the government is removing the sacred swastika symbol on their maps which denote the location of a Buddhist temple because it may offend some people.
The frightening aspect of this development is that ordinary God fearing people are being contaminated by this cancerous exceptionalism. Ordinary people who simply want to live in peace and not seize someone else’s land, invade another country or senselessly slaughter innocent civilians, are being forced to choose between love and hate, are being coerced into submitting to the nature of the beast (some would call this the mark of Cain, while others would term it Karma). A fine example is the latest controversy surrounding the book on forbidden love between a Jew and an Arab titled Borderlife by noted Israeli author Dorit Rabinyan, which has upset many self-righteous folk in Israel. LINK
A terrorist attack in Paris elicits tremendous outpouring in the western media. Yet daily mass murder, kidnapping and rape of hundreds of women and children in Africa; persecution of Kurds by Turkey (ironically the Kurdish women fighters are winning the battle against ISIS while certain elements in Turkey, a NATO power, are supporting ISIS); enslavement/rape of Christians, Muslims and Yazidis by ISIS pale in comparison to the killing of Europeans in a western capital. The colonial mind-set is apparent in the reaction of the western media.
Exceptionalism smells like a rotten egg.
Some years ago I interviewed celebrated Norwegian anthropologist and author, Professor Unni Wikan of Oslo University and asked her about the clash of cultures (with reference to Bali and the marauding tourists). She said “Cultures are ever changing, just like people; indeed, it is people who make up cultures, we are the agents, culture in itself can do nothing, it is just a word, a concept. It is important to keep this in mind: People have in their power to create and make “culture” happen, for good or bad. Therefore too, culture clash is not a term I use: it indicates that there is something there with the power to act by itself. Think of people instead, and you have a better instrument for building peace.” LINK
Professor Unni Wikan’s comment is best illustrated in this incident: A few months ago a new contributor to Live Encounters withdrew his poems stating “I firmly believe that inciting hatred against Israel is morally inexcusable”, (this after having read the following article – Antisemtism in Israel: Racism Against Arabs and Arab Jews and its effects LINK). The burning of a church LINK, desecration of graves, burning to death of a Palestinian child by right wing Jews, illegal seizure of Palestinian land is acceptable but not criticism of the State of Israel’s omissions and commissions. It is, for him, antisemitic. He doesn’t live in Israel. Unfortunately he is not alone in this thinking – in and outside of Israel. Instead of addressing the problems the only defence is to deliberately obfuscate all issues by terming critics – antisemitic, thereby maligning all and silencing even genuine supporters of Israel. It matters little if truth becomes the bastard child of a bloody reality that no one wants to own or be responsible for…it is always someone else’s fault.
Many years ago I received a mail from a black person in the USA berating me for stating the truth that Affirmative Action was hamstringing the black people, that Affirmative Action was alienating the black people from other folk because of the ‘exclusiveness’ attached to it. I have been proven right. Certain people within a democratic state cannot be treated preferentially based purely on historical injustices, for this action creates more injustice. In a democracy all citizens must be treated equally. Unfortunately democracy is a good idea, nothing more. LINK
The question that begs to be asked - Why is it that peoples of the First Nations whose land it was in the first place never seem to get any support from those shouting ‘Black Lives Matter’?
Perhaps All Lives Matter should be the slogan.
If we want peace we must first help those who are dispossessed – like the Jew Steve Maman from San Francisco, who is helping free Christian and Yazidi slaves from ISIS. LINK Or, the various charities working in Palestine and Israel, including Rabbis For Human Rights, Association For Civil Rights in Israel and Christian Aid.
The ongoing tragedy is that many among us are being drawn into a septic situation that breeds hatred, breeds violence against one another. Illiteracy, poverty, political brinkmanship and exceptionalism fuel the ongoing genocide.
Banning words, phrases or symbols doesn’t make the problem go away. It only exacerbates the situation to a point where hate for another not of our kind becomes a self-induced genetic disorder, and exceptionalism becomes the mantra of the damned.
Nelson Mandela, despite years of incarceration, returned to public life to lead South Africa onto the path of reconciliation. He was a man who broke out of the world of violence and hate, to become a leader that guided a nation hemorrhaging from hate to acknowledge, accept and to move on from its violent past through the process of inclusiveness. Perhaps the following words of Mandela will resonate with those that seek both justice and peace in a world fragmented by exceptionalism:
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
Om Shanti Shanti Shanti Om
(Batting only for oneself is not cricket.)
© Mark Ulyseas