09 June 2006

the people next door

did you ever save aol conversations in junior high, and then email them to your friends? or paste them into ims to your friends? and then the blue & red system would get all out of whack?

here, in chronological order, is an email conversation that's been going on between me, an older relative we'll call OR (not my dad), and, towards the end, my mom. i don't have much to say that isn't said in the emails (albeit with lots of 'sort of's and 'kinda's, because when you're a girl talking to an older male relative, you become twelve years old and unsure) - i'm not putting it up here to comment, really, just to share. i'll just mention that if this relative weren't so old, if this relative still had young children, i'd be fighting much harder. the only reason i've been fighting at all, really, is that this relative is usually smart and rational, and when exceedingly smart, exceedingly rational people buy into (and propagate) stuff like this, it isn't good. also, my mom raised me a total fucking hippie.


* * * * *

From: OR
To: [lots of people, my sister and i being the youngest]
Sent: June 6, 2006
Subject: Fw: Spanish newspaper article on Judaism

Short,but right on

----Begin Forwarded Message----

Spanish newspaper article on Judaism
No words minced here - something to think about.
Spanish newspaper article on Judaism (In English)

" ALL EUROPEAN LIFE DIED IN AUSCHWITZ"
By Sebastian Vilar Rodrigez(*)
I walked down the street in Barcelona, and suddenly discovered a terrible truth - Europe died in Auschwitz.

We killed six million Jews and replaced them with 20 million Muslims. In Auschwitz we burned a culture, thought, creativity, talent. We destroyed the chosen people, truly chosen, because they produced great and wonderful people who changed the world.

The contribution of this people is felt in all areas of life: science, art international trade, and above all, as the conscience of the world. These are the people we burned.

And under the pretense of tolerance, and because we wanted to prove to ourselves that we were cured of the disease of racism, we opened our gates to 20 million Muslims, who brought us stupidity and ignorance, religious extremism and lack of tolerance, crime and poverty due to
an unwillingness to work and support their families with pride.

They have turned our beautiful Spanish cities into the third world, drowning in filth and crime.

Shut up in the apartments they receive free from the government, they plan the murder and destruction of their naive hosts.

And thus, in our misery, we have exchanged culture for fanatical hatred, creative skill for destructive skill, intelligence for backwardness and superstition. We have exchanged the pursuit of peace of the Jews of Europe and their talent for hoping for a better future for their children, their determined clinging to life because life is holy, for those who pursue death, for people
consumed by the desire for death for themselves and others, for our children and theirs.

What a terrible mistake was made by miserable Europe.
***********************************
*This is a translation of an article from a Spanish
newspaper.

* * * * *

To: OR
From: Jaime
Subject: Re: Fw: Spanish newspaper article on Judaism

I don't know, OR. That sounds more like an article on Islam. And, not knowing all 20,000,000 Muslims in Spain, it sounds sort of bigoted and hateful. I don't think the person who wrote this knows all 20,000,000 Spanish Muslims, either. It comes off as a lot of broad generalizations and stereotypes. Sure, some Muslims are slumming on welfare. Sure, some are out to hurt people. But that can be said for all religions. (Someone could say some really awful things about the Hasidim in Spring Valley, but it wouldn't stand for all Jews, and surely not even for all of the Hasidim there.) The things here about Jews are great, but why does that have to lead into the intense anti-Muslim sentiments? The fanaticism of the anti-Muslim part makes the praise of Judaism harder to believe - it all feels so biased. So it all comes out feeling biased, and like there's an agenda behind it, but what bothers me most is how hateful the slander of the Spanish Muslims seems. Why write that kind of hate? Why spread it?

Just some thoughts. Love you.

Jaime

* * * * *

[on re-reading the article, i also take issue with the idea that the holocaust eradicated jewish culture. this sounds like i'm downplaying the holocaust, which i'm not, but, um, we didn't get entirely wiped out.]

* * * * *

From: OR
To: Jaime
Subject: Re: Fw: Spanish newspaper article on Judaism

What I got from the author's essay was that Jews as a group contributed to the world in a positive, peaceful way. In contrast, the Muslims as a group have been trying to destroy the world. I think he has hit the nail squarely.

Love, OR

* * * * *

[i then forward my response, and OR's reresponse, to my mother:]

To: Mom
From: Jaime
Subject: Fw: Spanish newspaper article on Judaism

feel like sharing this. i think you got or's email with that spanish newspaper article, right? i wrote back to him, as you'll see below. and also his response.

love you.

* * * * *

[before she gets to respond, i send this to mom, too:]

To: Mom
From: Jaime
Subject: (none)

i kinda want to write back, "yeah, you're right. muslims as a group have always been trying to destroy the world. like with the discovery of algebra, the bastards."

i shouldn't do that, right? ;)

[yes, i use emoticons with my mom.]

* * * * *

To: Jaime
CC: OR
From: Mom
Subject: Re: Fw: Spanish newspaper article on Judaism

Dear Jaime, If anyone hit the nail squarely on the head it is you! Bravo!
I feel scared when we, as "one's who should know better" start using the same, inflamatory rhetoric. I love you! Mommy

[maybe i get my liberal comma use from my mom, too.]

* * * * *

To: Jaime
From: Mom
Subject: Re: (none) [this is in response to me wanting to make snide comments about algebra]

No. I think that there are some extremely nasty, hostile ideologies swirling around some Mulim quarters. And I think that there is a lot of anti-American feeling around the world; not only from the muslim religious fanatics. And I feel strongly that to discuss a whole religious group as terrorists (that are using that religion as their right to kill) is terribly wrong. But, we have to be aware that there is much hate in the world. Instead of labeling a whole group so wrongly for the hate of a few, let us look closely at the dangers in which those few place so many.
The answers are not clear and not easy. If anyone thinks there are easy solutions, or simple categories in which to place Muslims or, for that matter, anyone else, they are shallow and wrong. But to deny that there is little or no danger from a few is not accurate either. And the danger is not soley from fanatic Muslims and anti-Israeli/Jewish groups. Anti-American sentiment is growing globally and we, as Americans need to start listening and not just denying that we have played any part in the imperialism we continually demonstrate.
Mom

* * * * *

[at this point i was ready to be done. like i said, this relative isn't influencing any children with his beliefs. i was never actually trying to change his beliefs, just to point out that the article was biased and hateful, and to express that i don't like when that sort of thing is propagated. not judging, just saying, whoa, that's some hate you're spreading. but it turns out he'd replied to my mom's email earlier - she forwarded me his response, which was in response to her short email of "Jaime, you hit the nail squarely on the head... I feel scared when we, as "one's who should know better" start using the same, inflammatory rhetoric."]

* * * * *

From: Mom
To: Jaime
Subject: Fwd: Re: Fw: Spanish newspaper article on Judaism

----Begin Forwarded Message----

To: Mom
From: OR
Subject: Re: Fw: Spanish newspaper article on Judaism

I believe that anyone who pretends that the Muslim Fundamentalists pose no threat to the civilized world is detrimental to our security. Spain is a logical target for the writer because it backed out of its commitment to help in Iraq when it came under attack by Islamic terrorists, thereby strengthening them. Their plan to make the world Muslim-dominated is well documented on their radio programs, videos, and vile anti-Semitic, anti-Christian, and anti-US literature. Their acts of violence did not stop with 9-11, and we seem unable to put them down for good. Canada took a small step for mankind when it arrested a small group of plotters. Unfortunately, they are not oddball rarities.

Maybe you should heed some "inflamatory rhetoric."

Love, OR

* * * * *

To: Mom; OR
From: Jaime
Subject: Re: Fw: Spanish newspaper article on Judaism

Yes – Muslim fundamentalists pose a serious threat. But the jump from that to “all 20 million Muslims in Spain are dirtbags,” which the article said, or to “Muslims have been trying to destroy the world,” which you said (invention of Algebra, anyone?), is a huge, irrational, unfounded jump. Sure, Muslim fundamentalists want the world to be Muslim-dominated. Christian Fundamentalists would love to do the same type of thing themselves. The reason I wrote back about the article wasn’t that I don’t think Muslim terrorists are a danger – I thought the article came off as so biased, so ignorant, with such unfounded generalizations, that the positive things being said about the Jews were totally lost. It wasn’t an article about the Jews – it was an article against Muslims. All Muslims, not fundamentalists, not radicals, not terrorists – it made no distinctions. It made such rash generalizations that I couldn’t take any of it as legitimate writing. It was propaganda.

Love,
Jaime

* * * * *

To: Jaime
From: Mom
Subject: Re: Fw: Spanish newspaper article on Judaism

I don't think I said that Muslims are trying to destroy the world. And yes, I totally agree that that article was propoganda.
And you know that you write beautifully?
Love you! Mommy

[aw. thanks, mom.]

* * * * *

To: Jaime
From: OR
Subject: Re: Fw: Spanish newspaper article on Judaism

I found the article to be an interesting comparison between the Jews who were killed in the Holocaust and the Muslims who are "invading" Europe. The author makes the obvious point that Jews make a contribution to the world they live in and do it peacefully, while Muslims contribute nothing (notice how far back you had to reach to come up with their advances in mathematics) and are the causes of unrest. That comparison is the thrust of his article, not simply Muslim-busting.

There's no doubt that not all Muslims are terrorists, but those Muslims who don't agree with the militants, even if they prove to be the majority, are silenced in their countries by the militants. I know one Israeli Arab who is vocal and wants peace; she lives in the US now and wouldn't dare go back to the Middle East. The referendum that Abbas is trying to hold in which he advocates a peace settlement with Israel might show how attractive peace is with the Palestinians.

Love, OR

* * * * *

i didn't reply to that. the easy answer as to why is 'i got what i wanted from him' - logic, not hate. it's a little twisty, and i still think that trusting that article's connection of the holocaust and this apparent influx of muslims is dodgy. (hey, remember when spain kicked the muslims out?) i feel awful about the aspects of that assessment of my motives that are true - it's like i was challenging him until he resorted to reason, like pushing a kid who's trying to figure something out. it just feels disrespectful. he's probably the smartest person in my family, on either side. and i love him a lot. maybe it was just that i couldn't accept the hateful propaganda as his actual opinion - i needed to keep going until i got to something that i'm okay with being the foundation of his beliefs. i disagree, but i'm okay going on from here with this as the final word. i didn't go into this (perhaps entirely ill-advised) debate looking to sway him - there's no changing of his opinions in any thing, but he's so smart, so logical, that i felt once i pointed out the propagandist aspects of the article, he'd see. (i also was just really offended by the idea that he believes that islam is basically a 1300-year attempt to destroy the world.) [really? just 1300? wikipedia, you sure?]

it's weird to get oneself into a debate like this with no hope (or aim) of changing the other person's mind. but to go in with what i thought was an entirely feasible goal... it felt so simple, like pointing out an innocent mistake - oh, look, you forgot to carry the three, so it's actually thirty seven. there was also an aspect to it of i love you and respect you, but i need to let you know that i think what you're propagating is unfair and hateful and wrong. i don't know what i was trying to accomplish, and i don't know if i actually did anything, but it was something that i felt needed to be said.

2 comments:

John said...

Forgive me the 20-year-old quoting of "Tick Tick" - but read this then tell me and I'll share with you the email conversation it led to with my cousin from Virginia:
http://johnmichael.blogspot.com/2003_02_09_johnmichael_archive.html

Rocco said...

There is so much love in your family. It's so nice to see.

And btw this was your longest/most facinating post.

archives