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Gordon's D-Zone Arcive (2006-2014)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Beware the Foreigner...

I am very concerned by developments taking place in Europe. While we are encouraged to celebrate diversity in all its forms and promote the ideals of solidarity and mutual respect, 'political' groups that promote hate and suspicion against particular groups are growing in popular support across the European Union. Most of these groups are, of course, far-right parties which present themselves as protectors of national values, identity and culture. At face value, these are not unworthy goals in themselves but then again, a belief that your 'national identity, values and culture' are the only ones that are valid, or they are in any way 'superior' to other identities, values or cultures, ignores that all the world is, if not by anything else, by our humanity. Even if if we are more sincere, there is so much more that we share in common that we might wish to admit. 

I cannot deny that the fact that being disabled has made me aware of the many misconceptions people had of me and which, I'm sometimes painfully reminded today. Thus, I tend to reject statements made about particular groups that portray them as a uniform group that are a threat to social stability, order and things ranging from jobs to traditions. 

Locally, the implicit message is that African refugees risk 'invading our country, Muslim people will 'take over our values'. gay people are 'corrupting our morality', etc. And what about disabled people? We are better off than ten years ago but there is still sub;e prejudice that would make some people have locked up in an institution or, as some have suggested , kill us off before we are born. An increasingly accepted practice in many parts of the world, based on the idea that this is 'for our own good' - of course! But this is a topic that deserves a post in its own right…

Here, I only wish to illustrate that there is a certain inconsistency, if not hypocrisy, between what some of us claim to believe in and how we actually act when we are faced with reality. For most of us, it is easy to pledge support to diversity but when we are asked to practice solidarity, it's a sad reality that we bring up excuses like 'national interest' to justify turning human lives into chess pieces or to merely as ends in our political agendas.

That is perhaps why I don't describe myself as a patriot. For from my reading of history, I learned that any patriotism or nationalism has the risk of putting the country and allegedly its values, has contradicted its very own values and resulting in great loss of life and suffering to groups of people that are construed to be a threat or an evil to the 'good society'. And when economic recession, unemployment, increase in crime and a general decrease of life quality occur, it is far easier to put the blame on a scapegoat group and talk about the myth of national purity. Ignoring the great contribution that the diverse groups and individuals in society have given us and others who may still give us. It has happened under Hitler, Stalin; it has happened in Kosovo, Rwanda and Armenia. There is no guarantee that it will not happen today again in Europe. However, this is up to how much we persist in believing that what we believe in is the only way of being human.