Sunday, 30 May 2010

Angry, disappointed.... and saddened.

Yesterday Kevin and I had lunch at our local Sikh temple. It was wonderful food, cooked by one of the Sikh women, and fit to grace any restaurant table. The atmosphere in the temple was wonderful too. We were welcomed with open arms, yet we are not Sikhs. Conversely, twice when going to our local church, we have been viewed with what can only be described as suspicion, and have been made to feel like we had no business being there. I should point out that this is the only church I have ever experienced this attitude in, and that on neither of these occasions was it the clergy responsible for the lack of welcome (the first time it was a couple of elderly women, and the second time it was the bell ringers - I think both times, it was a case of these people just being irritated at being disturbed!). On the other hand, perhaps the priest needs to up his sermons, and teach his parishioners that thing about not judging books by their covers!


On the way home, we reflected upon the people at the temple and mused that it would be wonderful if everyone could be so accepting. Instead however, every day we have people victimised because of their faith, their skin colour, their heritage.Or just because they are not the same as the people doing the victimising. In addition, people are often victimised because they are lumped in with other groups by people too ignorant to understand the difference between say, a Sikh and a Muslim.

This morning I found what can only be described as racial propaganda in my inbox. It was nothing more than a call to arms against the Muslim community.... from someone I considered a friend. It was entitled:


(yes, in upper case - I suppose that makes it more legitimate).

It said (and was punctuated with images of holocaust victims):

When I was a kid, I couldn't understand why Eisenhower was so popular. Maybe this will explain why.

General Eisenhower Warned Us.

It is a matter of history that when the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces, General Dwight Eisenhower, found the victims of the death camps he ordered all possible photographs to be taken, and for the German people from surrounding villages to be ushered through the camps and even made to bury the dead.

He did this because he said in words to this effect:

'Get it all on record now - get the films - get the witnesses - because somewhere down the road of history some bastard will get up and say that this never happened'

This week, the UK debated whether to remove The Holocaust from its school curriculum because it 'offends' the Muslim population which claims it never occurred. It is not removed as yet.. However, this is a frightening portent of the fear that is gripping the world and how easily each country is giving into it.

It is now more than 60 years after the Second World War in Europe ended. This e-mail is being sent as a memorial chain, in memory of the, six million Jews, 20 million Russians, 10 million Christians, and 1,900 Catholic priests Who were 'murdered, raped, burned, starved, beaten, experimented on and humiliated' while many in the world looked the other way!

Now, more than ever, with Iran , among others, claiming the Holocaust to be 'a myth,' it is imperative to make sure the world never forgets.

This e-mail is intended to reach 400 million people! Be a link in the memorial chain and help distribute this around the world.

How many years will it be before the attack on the World Trade Center


because it offends some Muslim???

Do not just delete this message; it will take only a minute to pass this along.


In what way exactly, is it very significant, as the title would have me believe? As far as I can see, its only significance is in affirming my long-held belief that people often act without thinking, and that they are willing to believe anything the Media tells them. How sad.

This is exactly the kind of nonsense which makes me utterly ashamed to be (half) British. And to tell the truth, I also feel rather disappointed that someone I considered a friend would even think I might be ignorant enough to appreciate it, much less act upon it. I wonder how many other people on that email list feel this way (I was just one of many it was sent to)? I can honestly say I am shocked that any friend of mine would condone racism…because that’s what that email was – racism, pure and simple.

And it was sent to a member of Leicester local government too – to their work email address. How dumb is that?
Regarding the offending email:
  • It is three years out of date – it first began circulating in 2007.
  • It’s complete nonsense – ONE school in the north of England avoided teaching this subject because it felt it might whip up anti-Semitic feeling, NOT because it might offend Muslims. It should be noted that the same school also avoided teaching about the Crusades in order to avoid whipping up anti-Muslim feeling.
  • Obviously all the homosexuals and gypsies who were rounded up, tortured, and exterminated by the Nazis do not deserve a mention. Nor do all the German children and women who were used as part of the Nazi breeding programme.
It will come as no great shock that the main source for this story - which was hugely twisted and parts of it selectively omitted - was… ta daaaa – The Daily Mail! Quel surprise.

As long as material such as that email is circulated, we are never going to live in a tolerant and racially/religiously harmonious society. Is that what people want? Is that what they want for their children? Is that their legacy? How shameful and tragic that our generation should be remembered for such hatred, when access to so much pertinent information should make such things incomprehensible.

I know lots of Muslims, and I have visited Muslim countries – never have I ever met any Muslims who agree with the extreme fundamentalist minority (and it is a minority, let’s be clear here). Yet I have, rather unfortunately, met far more non-Muslim bigots who seem to think that it’s perfectly OK to target groups of peaceful people who are merely trying to live their lives. Some of these bigots even call themselves Christians!

Whether you like it or not, Britain is a rich multicultural society - and has been for several millennia – isn’t it about time it, as a nation, embraced this fact? It’s about time Britain grew up, in my opinion, and started seeing people, not labels. We live in a global society, which means we are all dependent upon each other. We should not be singling out groups of people because they are perceived as being ‘different’.

Eisenhower was wrong when he quoted Burke ("All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."); all that is actually required is that people switch off their brains, their common sense, and their humanity.

Negationism is not the sole province of Muslims; it was actually started (to the best of my knowledge) in the early 1960s by an American called Harry Barnes. Presumably this man was a Christian – are we to target Christians as well? And Americans? Of course not because we understand that these views are held by a small number of even smaller-minded people. We have no difficulty in accepting that these views are not the norm for Christians or Americans (or the French for that matter - there have been French Negationists too).

So why is it so difficult then, to accept that not all Muslims are Holocaust Deniers?

For those of you who are actually interested in finding out information for yourselves, you might be interested in An American magazine which still advocates Holocaust Denial (and denies America’s involvement in the African slave trade too….just for good measure). Yet I’m not hearing a call to arms against the US!

The Muslim argument, as I understand it, is not that the Holocaust didn’t happen, rather that it has been exaggerated and used as a political tool by the Israelis to drum up sympathy and support, and aid their quest to deprive the Palestinians of their land. However, Sheikh Abdullah Nimr Darwish, the founder of the Islamic Movement In Israel, has publicly spoken out against this anti-Semitic feeling:

"I know that many of you have read very dark and harsh texts. The people who wrote them have no right to sign off on them in the name of Islam. These are interpretations and not the words of the prophet,"

Obviously Negationism (or Holocaust Revision/Denial) could not possibly be part of Islam, given that the holocaust happened only 60 years ago! Darwish is not the only Muslim to speak out against anti-Semitism.

Aside from all of the above, do you know what really strikes me the most? The irony of that email. 60-odd years ago, similar rubbish was being touted, and believed. It led to the systematic extermination of six million people.

"All propaganda has to be popular and has to adapt its spiritual level to the perception of the least intelligent of those towards whom it intends to direct itself."
-Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf Vol. I

Probably the truest words Hitler ever wrote.

Think about it.


AlisonK said...

Got here from Ravelry and I definitely agree with you.
Thanks for a fascinating post - I didn't know a lot of this stuff e.g. about Barnes, and have been fortunate enough not to have that email sent to me.

Selana said...

wow, this email really makes me sad... it is never a good idea to judge a whole group of people just because some behaved in a non-acceptable manner. I'm German and when we first went to the UK with school we all were called Nazis by the children of the school we visited.

Believe me, it hurts to be judged for something that happened when your parents weren't even born yet.

And it is the same to judge a complete religion or race or any other group of people just because some extremists exist in it.

sapphireblue said...

I hate when all Muslims are catorgorized as terrorist or extremist. That has not been my experience with the people that I know who are Muslim. There are plenty of terrorist, such as Timothy McVeigh, who are not Muslim.

Those mass emails are such b.s. Sounds like something my f-i-l would forward.