For a remote small city, like Christchurch, New Zealand, to witness a racism massacre like the one committed by Brenton Tarrant, leaves no doubt that the World has, indeed, reached a new landmark in what Samuel Huntington once called “The Clash of Civilizations”.
I accept that this expression has been losing its impact as a result of overuse and political controversy surrounding it; but still, we must confess two realities: The First, that it is – at least partially – true. The Second, that it is not something unprecedented in the history of mankind.
The words the racist mass murderer had written before committing his heinous crime in order to explain his racist “philosophy” and his “aim” of killing innocent people are clear indications of a “Clash of Civilizations”. So are the equally pathologically extremist “beliefs” expressed by an elected senior Australian politician, and the rising tide of horrendous extremist populism throughout Europe and the Americas.
On the other hand, despite the fact that Huntington linked his viewpoint to the confrontation between Capitalism and Communism and the former’s need for an enemy even if it had to be created, “The Clash of Civilizations”, actually, existed before the end of WWI and the resulting new world order.
Yes. It existed before the confrontation between Capitalism and Communism, and ran parallel to it. Perhaps, among the most significant examples of this phenomenon were: The Crusades, launched by the Christian West against the Muslim East as a reaction against the Islamic Conquests, which reached central and western Europe; the Inter-Christian wars between Catholics and Protestants, including the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre in Paris (1572 AD), and the Battle of the Boyne in Ireland (1690); then the Russian “Pogroms” and the Nazis Jewish Holocaust in Germany.
In fact, one might also add the “rhetoric” of the extremists Hindu and Buddhist groups in India and Myanmar towards Kashmir and the Rohingya people, which resurrects the old religious and ethnic Hindu and Buddhist “Clash of Civilizations” against the Muslims of south Asia. Furthermore, there is the extremist Sunni and Shiite Muslim groups which have set their own philosophical and political bases and justifications to declare all those who don’t share their views as apostates and godless, and thus deserve elimination, even if this should lead to fighting the whole world community.
In addition, as the Crusades (or the Wars of the Western Foreigners) contributed to building a hateful intellectual and psychological cultural system within the ranks of extremist Muslims against the West, the success of the Zionist Movement in creating a Jewish state in Palestine with western help, has pushed the world Jewry in the old “clash” of Christian and Muslim “civilizations”.
This relatively recent 20th century development; i.e., the role of Zionism is nurturing Muslim – Jewish animosities, is unknown since the early days of Islam. The Muslim – Jewish relations after that early period became pretty positive throughout the Middle East, North Africa and the Iberian Peninsula. Both communities paid a heavy price after “the Reconquista” and the Inquisition in Spain. So, today, when Benjamin Netanyahu and allies in the Jewish American Right gamble on the support of US “Evangelists” and other ultra-Conservative Christian groups in the US, many Jewish intellectuals and strategist are dismayed and worried that his gamble is very risky.
A London-based Jewish American academic and intellectual expressed this feeling to me a few weeks ago. With clear bitterness, he talked about “a dilemma and crisis the Jewish communities are living through everywhere, whether it is in Israel or America and Europe”. This was obvious by the honest sympathy with fellow Muslims expressed by New Zealand’s Jewish community after the Christchurch outrage.
The American Jewish academic believes that the world Jewry today find themselves intellectually in unfamiliar territory. The European and American extremist right – both theologically and racially – has always “hated” them. Not only did they live under the constant accusation of being “Christ killers”, but the extremist Christian right has always wanted to convert them to Christianity.
In the Middle East, however, the Jews’ success in founding Israel contributed in weakening moderation among Muslims and giving credibility of hardliners, who moved as far as ISIS, in case of the Sunnis; or in the case of the Shiites, moved as far as Iran’s aggressive theocratic culture, which is not only anti-Jewish, but also anti-any non-Shiite.
“The current dilemma”, he added “is now pushing Israeli Hews to escape forward, and European and American Jews to a state of confusion” despite President Donald Trump’s attempts to “tempt” them away from the Democratic Party to his Republican camp.
Back to the Christchurch massacre, the noble stance taken by New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been impressive and effective in the few hours after the outrage. She did well by stressing that her country does not share the criminal racist’s views and stances and that he intentionally chose to commit his crime because of that reason.
I believe, what Ardern said is absolutely true. Tarrant could have easily committed his heinous crime at home in Australia, but committing it in a country ruled by the anti-immigrant right would defeat his purpose. That is why he intentionally flew to New Zealand in order “to score political points” against a Christian white government that believes in tolerance and brotherhood of mankind, and rejects any “Clash of Civilizations”.
The terrorist criminal knew his target and knew quite well what he wanted to achieve.
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