Longtime New York Times war correspondent Chris Hedges describes what he has observed about inter-ethnic conflicts that lead to war, ethnic cleansing and genocide in the book, War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning. This book, despite the title, is one of the most powerful anti-war books I have ever read:
"The ethnic conflicts and insurgencies of our time, whether between Serbs and Muslims or Hutus and Tutsis, are not religious wars. They are not clashes between cultures or civilizations , nor are they the result of ancient ethnic hatreds. They are manufactured wars, born out of the collapse of civil societies, perpetuated by fear, greed, and paranoia and they are run by gangsters, who rise up from the bottom of their own societies and terrorize all, including those they purport to protect"
All these wars are proceeded by years of "hate propaganda and lies" I fear that there is a lot of hate propaganda in our civil and political life today as immigrants and Muslims are demonized by mainstream politicians, religious leaders, and media figures. I think the motives are mixed, but mostly base. Politicians use messages of hate to inflame and engage their voter base and call on people's fear for their votes. Religious leaders can get national attention by saying, as some have, that Islam is a religion of hate or not a true religion at all. Talk show hosts and public commentators seem to compete with each other to say more extreme and hateful things about Latinos and Muslims for a high stakes game of ratings, book sales and influence. Lost in all of that are human beings who like the rest of us wish for peace, safety, economic security and the right to practice their faith and raise their families. Laws like that in Arizona and the deliberate distortion of facts in the 9-11 Mosque controversy are having a corrosive effect on our civil discourse. Hateful speech becomes more and more the norm and more and more acceptable. It leads to the human rights abuses we are seeing in our country today....and it could lead to much worse.
We are not immune from this hatred in San Diego. In a previous blog I wrote about my dismay upon seeing news coverage of expensively coiffed and dressed white people at an exclusive country club calling for undocumented immigrants to be shot. In Temecula, in the name of the Prince Of Peace and under our nation's flag, people are bringing dogs to intimidate peaceful worshipers at a mosque.
As people of faith we have some things we can do. We must, kindly and forcefully, challenge stereotypes and false statements when we hear them. We can refuse to vote for any candidate who tries to leverage fear and hate. We can reach out to people in these groups to know and understand them. Under this convulsion of hatred is fear. We are called to love. And "perfect love casts out fear."
Posted on Wed, August 25, 2010
by Arvid Straube filed under