After events such as those in France last week, it's natural for people to feel anger. But when anger turns to rage, and rage spawns ignorance, we are in dangerous territory. In Europe, the parties of the Far Right are counselling ignorance. Michael Harris writes:
The leader of the Front National party, Marine Le Pen, is stoking the view that immigration is an “invasion” — a coinage of her father, the party’s founder, Jean-Marie LePen. Her ‘ban refugees’ message is aped by the leader of the United Kingdom Independent Party of Nigel Farage, and the Dutch Party of Freedom led by Geert Wilders.
Among other things, Le Pen wants to bring back capital punishment to protect what she calls the “countrymen.” Islam, she proclaims, is an evil ideology. Perhaps that’s why her father wanted Muslims expelled before they “took over” France.
Predictably, the Harper Right is also counselling ignorance. Enter Michelle Rempel:
Calling the opposition’s position “deeply ignorant,” (both the NDP and Liberals voted against the latest war in Iraq) Rempel went on to advise total ignorance in dealing with ISIL. Don’t bother trying to understand what happened, just experience the horror of it all. Channel the victims. Rempel’s advocacy comes down to this: kill the evil-doers before they kill us. Where have you heard that before?
Stop, for a minute, and consider where ignorance has got us:
After 13 years of the War on Terror, the Rempel Doctrine has given the world a fractured Iraq never far from civil war, a dysfunctional Afghanistan, chaos in Libya, horrendous civil war in Syria, excruciating pain in Gaza, and radicalized an even more vicious strain of fundamentalism that is so bad that it makes Al Qaida look moderate.
That ignorance is most evident in our refusal to consider history and the context that it provides. Eric Margolis, Harris writes, provides both history and context:
Starting with the premise that absolutely nothing justifies the savagery that took place in Paris last week – (and let me stress those words “absolutely nothing”), Margolis educates rather than incites. He points out that France has emerged as one of the most active interveners in the Muslim world, with military operations in Libya, Mali, Ivory Coast, Central African Republic, Djibouti, Abu Dhabi, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.
And behind all that, there is of course the bloody legacy of Algeria, where liberation fighters were tortured by electro-shock occasionally with the assistance of psychiatrists. The French military presence has been so pervasive, Margolis points out that critics have accused the country of a new era of Mideast and African colonialism.
The old adage what goes around comes around applies now as it has always applied. Our problem is that we have forgotten what we sent around the first time. And we fail to understand why it has come back to haunt us.