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Heavy-Handed Politics

"€œGod willing, with the force of God behind it, we shall soon experience a world
without the United States and Zionism."€ -- Iran President Ahmadi-Nejad

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Don't you understand?

An observation from New Sisyphus:

The Future Middle East: After the War is Won

"Don't you understand?
They hate our guts and everything we stand for! They don't want us there and, believe me, we don't want to be there!"

These are the words a good friend of ours spoke to us during a friendly debate on the Iraq War over dinner here in the Near Abroad. Our friend is no liberal. Quite the opposite, in fact. What he does have is Middle Eastern experience like you wouldn't believe. Our friend agrees with us that a sickness has spread among the world's Islamic civilizations.

It's like this, he explained: in the mid- to late-1930's the Germans were in a tough political situation. Defeated in war, humiliated in the world's rush to acquire colonies, the Germans were a proud people perplexed by their sudden and disastrous loss of power, prestige and wealth. With each passing month, the grievances that so haunted the German people grew more and more agonizing, until they burned brightly, a shining place for the Germans to deposit their hatred, their envy, their anger.

A small political movement quickly caught fire, and soon the fact of the rise of the German Worker's National Socialist Party and its leader, Adolf Hitler, became the central fact of German political life. Here, finally, was a party and a leader who spoke openly about the real problems, about the German people's legitimate and urgent grievances: against the French, for imposing the humiliating yoke of Versailles, against the Russian bear for spreading sedition in their land, against the British, for not allowing them their fair share of colonies, against the hated Jews, for conspiring and plotting against them. The German newspapers burned with the weight of resentment, spreading the most fanciful conspiracy theories. German political leaders spoke with passion about the wrongs that had been visited against the German people, and about the need to correct those wrongs. With force.

Now, our friend argued, here we have one of the leading civilizations of the world, known for its art, philosophy, industry, music, religion, political science and military ability. By any measure, the Germanic people circa 1932 were one of the world's brightest stars. Yet, they so fell in love with their grievances, their hate, that they fell almost to a man for a murderous ideology of lies.

And here's the important part: it's not that the German people didn't have legitimate grievances. They did. It's how they used the fact of those grievances that gave the rest of the world the right to train their young men, arm them and send them across oceans to shoot as many Germans in the head as possible.

So, he concluded, if such a thing could come to pass, affecting an entire advanced civilization, might it not happen again? Might not we be witnessing the wholesale conversion of the Islamic world to a new type of fascism, one equally illuminated and powered by their grievances? If that could happen to the Germans, why not the Muslims? No one is immune to the allure of the powerful feeling of setting out to right wrongs done to one's people. You can see that feeling take new life with every "death to America" or "death to the Jews" rally.


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