CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND – Muslims and Christians, brothers  in mourning

– Carlos M Frota

A fortnight  ago the world was deeply shocked  by the attack against two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, during Friday prayers.

Fifty innocent worshipers died and many more were wounded. And added to the tragedy itself, was the sudden awakening of a peaceful population, the New Zealanders themselves, to the realities of our times: hatred doesn’t know barriers of geography. And there is no shelter against  evil, when evil decides to use men to operate on its behalf. And he often does.

I have no hesitation in using this almost medieval language (for some, not for me…) about the realities of hatred and prejudice and disharmony and conflict in our world today.

The testament of a madman 

But what about the criminal’s so called “justification” for his crazy acts, in his memorandum of seventy plus pages, published just before launching his murderous plan?

White supremacy, he called it, adding that this is the time for the renewal of “white identity.” And praising the example, in this regard, of a world leader, well known by his ambiguities on this and other domains?

Renewal of white identity? What kind of white identity was he  referring to in his delirium, if Caucasians are scattered all around the continents? And what makes Caucasian genetics so “pure” (and what is purity, by the way?)  that History doesn’t change, by the continuous mixing of populations throughout the times, obliging people to adapt to different places in different times ?

The crazy idea of racial superiority

From where comes then this idiocy of a race superior to others? What kind of scientific arguments favor the thesis? What counterproof destroys the evidence that the human species has a common origin? Africa, it seems…

All of us know the answer, and the answer is ideology, not science. And we know how ideology poisoned our tragic 20th century! And it apparently continues…

Hitler and his gang, Mussolini and his mafia, fathered a new generation of sycophants?

And well before nazism and fascism in Europe, how deep were the wounds left in America among people who never accepted the justice of the Civil Rights Movement? People who never accepted slavery abolition, well satisfied to see other human beings as pure animals  equal to horses and  cows in their plantations…

In our troubled times, as I called it in my previous chronicle, we are seeing not the renewal of any particular race (God bless!) but the emergence of old fears of domination and subjugation, mainly in the West, due to two circumstances:

  • first, the successive waves of migrants that suddenly landed in open, unprepared societies,  with their own problems  of managing ethnic, cultural and religious diversity;
  • and second, the political responses given by opportunistic leaders  to grab power.

The challenges of multiethnic societies

For historical reasons, American and European societies are patchworks of races, religions, ethnicities, costumes, traditions….

Some refuse this truth. And wish to tell a different narrative. But History is History. And facts  matter…

America was built by successive waves of Caribbean, European, Asian, Russian, Latin American immigrants, Protestants, Catholics, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and so on.

And the European colonial experience brought to the Old Continent millions of people that enriched, reinvigorated, contributed to the progress of old societies in demographic decline, too pessimistic about the future to trust in live to have babies!

In societies like those, social integration is always a big challenge. For  several reasons:

  • The policies of inclusion require vision and courage from political leaders.
  • It requires an active role in favor of integration by non state players.
  • It calls for a culture of openness by entrepreneurs, seeing immigrants not just as cheap labor force, easily exploited with salaries of misery, but human beings. 
  • It is inspired by these principles of basic humanity,   allowing families to reunite and so reducing the risks of poverty, economic and psychological, of separated people on the two sides of the divide, the workers far away from spouses and children left behind.

In this process of integration, native people in recipient countries  fear competition, fear differences to dealt with, fear … the unknown! And when there are political leaders exploiting those fears, the ground is  mature for exclusion, prejudice, conflict  and more.

Are societies like the Europeans, where plurality prevails, condemned to failure? Are human beings destined to build their future in accordance to the rules of different  apartheids ?

Raising the question is of course absurd and admitting this option not only absurd, but shameful .

And what about globalization?

With globalization,  the world has reached an unparalleled level of exchanges that put  the dream of white supremacy in the gallery of the best (or worse ) jokes.

Asia is rising. And I never read or heard that this is a time  for the revenge of a race against others, but the product of hardworking people badly discriminated in the past.

Africa is rising. And, among Africans, mainly young people, I feel their desire to enter in communion with the outside world, instead of building a world just for Africans. And computers and smartphones are the bridges they are using, like in every corner of our planet, the strengthen their links to the entire human family.

So, where are the reasons for the renewal of white identity, and the defense of white supremacy, in a world larger than the small rooms where some would like to compartmentalize different groups of the same humanity?

What  I believe …

I think that we should work together for the renewal of the spirit of solidarity among different people. We should deepen the dialogue among religions and  cultures  and traditions.  We should educate ourselves and educate our children to be blind to the difference of skin color and respecting others sensitivities.

Macau is a good example of this kind of human and social experiment for foreigners and native people alike .

One of the books whose title impressed me, recently, (and negatively) was a long text against the “dictatorship of relativism.” .

The idea, as I understood it,  is simple: the fact of living side by side with different  people forces us to be also different, not entirely ourselves…

But … why not? In this regard, one example of coherence to finish my text:

One day, during my stay in South Korea, I was visiting with my colleagues a province far away from Seoul. Suddenly our bus stopped for a visit to a beautiful  Buddhist  temple. I was in animated conversation with two other trip mates and we arrived late.

And what did I see? My Thai colleague and friend prostrate on the floor, in front of a huge statue of Buddha, in deep  prayer.

For him, it was totally irrelevant being in company  of non-believers.

Who says that we cannot be ourselves among different people?   





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