Monday, May 2, 2011

Jingoistic Blood Lusting Mobs

Hundreds of millions of moderate Muslims decline to celebrate in the streets when infidels are slaughtered. And dozens of millions of educated, modern Muslims feel ashamed when they see their more extreme brethren doing so on TV. And many of them have remained skeptical of the extremist rhetoric that America is at war with Islam.

And they're surely all watching this troubling scene on Al Jazeera:
When the ancient impulse of blood lust is stirred up, scary things can happen. At the very least, it makes conciliation ever less likely. The two sides never notice their symmetry. The Times Square guys lack self-awareness, as is always the case with mobs. We train on sports, which help sublimate our tribal impulses. When the primal slow simmer ekes up into a boil, we can find ourselves celebrating real death in exactly the manner we'd previously celebrated our team's decimation of its rivals.

Me? I'm ashamed, as a fellow human, of bloodthirsty Muslim extremists, I'm ashamed, as a fellow Jew, of bigoted Israeli settlers, and I'm ashamed, as an American, to see these primal impulses increasingly stoked here, where my grandparents brought our family yearning for a more civilized environment.

As I asked a few years ago, "Will we human beings ever learn to react to extremism with enlightened moderation rather than with reciprocal extremism?"

[Though I'm a centrist, conservatives may consider my feelings of shame to be emblematic of wishy-washy liberal relativism. Me? I mistrust anyone predisposed to spurn the human shame impulse. The world suffers far more from shame's lack than from its excess.]


Anonymous said...

Jim, exactly what I was thinking. You're not the only one.

benjamin said...

Hey Jim, Well stated. My feelings exactly. We haven't moved forward as a culture, country or as humankind: not one small step for man and certainly not a leap of any measure for mankind.

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