We live in times where there is a surplus of facts, information and knowledge, all of it at our fingertips, more bountiful and readily available than at any point in human history.
Perhaps it is a reflection of our inability (unwillingness?) to sort, collate and quantify all this knowledge that every day it’s possible to pluck an item or 200 from the news feed and reach the inescapable conclusion that people have nonetheless become as stunted and dense as medieval peasants.
And yes, I know … I’m insulting the medieval peasants by making this comparison.
I’m far from perfect as a human being, but these variants of hatred make no sense to me, whether they’re anti-Semitism, racism, misogyny or homophobia. If anything, I can come close to understanding the impulse to hate the haters; while abstract discussions of “love” haven’t ever ranked high on my personal hit parade, it seems obvious that hating hate isn’t enough.
But at least medieval peasants knew how to cook their own meals, while contemporary white supremacists are doomed to the dollar menu at a fast food chain. If logic can’t cripple them, perhaps coagulated arteries will.
Jew-hatred keeps mutating to survive (The Economist)
Lessons from the Pittsburgh massacre
… Most Jews in Europe do not cower. Nor have American Jews been as safe as they presumed. That became tragically apparent on October 27th, when a white-supremacist gunman, named as Robert Bowers, shot dead 11 Sabbath worshippers in Pittsburgh (see article). “I never thought that the kind of terrorism that we have seen in France and in other places in Europe would be raising its ugly head in America,” says Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, a Jewish group. And he thinks “it’s only the opening round.” Suddenly, it is American Jews who have started talking about whether, when and how to leave.
It is futile to try to assess the true extent of Jew-hatred from the deeds of a lone gunman. The Anti-Defamation League (adl), which fights bigotry, says there was a sharp rise last year in anti-Semitic incidents, such as vandalism of Jewish sites and harassment (including bomb threats). But the number of assaults on Jews was small and fell. Worldwide, violence against Jews has declined sharply since 2014, according to an annual study by Tel Aviv University’s Kantor Centre (see chart).
Beyond such violence, defining anti-Semitism is harder because it is so protean. Historically, notes Jonathan Sacks, Britain’s former chief rabbi, “Jews were hated because they were poor and because they were rich; because they were communists and because they were capitalists; because they kept to themselves and because they infiltrated everywhere; because they clung to ancient religious beliefs and because they were rootless cosmopolitans who believed nothing.” These days, overt Jew-hatred is comparatively rare in the West, largely because of its association with the Nazi Holocaust. Often it is disguised. Rants about “globalists” on the far-right and “Zionists” on the far-left can be euphemisms for “Jews”. Yet both words have straightforward meanings, too, and not all who use them are bigots.
Michal Bilewicz of the University of Warsaw outlines three categories of anti-Semitism. The “traditional” kind is based on Catholic teaching (since abandoned) that Jews killed Christ, and on medieval blood-libels (accusations that Jews killed children to mix their blood with Passover flatbread). The second, “modern”, sort is based on a belief in conspiracies by powerful Jews. The last kind, “secondary” anti-Semitism, holds that Jews abuse the history of the Holocaust. Others seek to categorise the miasma differently: eg, as racist, economic, cultural and religious; or explicit and coded; or soft and violent …