Saturday, November 14, 2015


I've been following the Paris news, and commentary, and social-media response. It's very, very different - even with the on-the-ground feeling of Twitter, and even having spent a lot of time in Paris - to read about this than it was to be in Manhattan on 9/11. 9/11 the symbol is always going to feel secondary, to me, to the event itself. I'm following this story closely in part for personal reasons, but also, in part, for the same reasons as everybody else. I learned about these attacks when a news alert popped up on my phone, as I was sitting in a coffee shop in Canada. Yes, I recognized the streets, and yes, all the more so, I worried about friends. But it's something quite different.

Responses seem to go one of two ways. Either people mention time spent in Paris (even if it was three days 30 years ago), which is (I think) sincerely felt and well-meaning, but which risks the why-are-you-making-it-about-you accusation... or they jump straight into the virtue-signaling approach - also well-meaning, I suppose, but frustrating. By this I mean the comments - in the immediate aftermath of a tragedy that (for all you know, people doing this, has personally-personally impacted your friends) accusing the grieving of racism. Why? Because they haven't shown equal concern (or 1/3 concern, given the current death tolls) regarding a terrorist attack in Beirut.

Cultural affinity - that same thing that people take for granted when people throughout the Muslim world, and many Muslims elsewhere, feel an emotional connection to the Palestinian cause - is suspect the moment it's people in London or Chicago (or Toronto) identifying with Parisians. Cultural affinity isn't quite the same thing as racism, particularly given that the Paris being grieved for at the moment is hardly monolithically white or xenophobic.

But more to the point: this just happened. The first response after a tragedy shouldn't be chastising people who are upset. If chastising is your go-to response, by all means, tsk-tsk away at the dangerous idiots conflating refugees with that which they're fleeing from. It's not that it's too early for politics - everything's political, I get that. But there's enough to be legitimately sad and angry about that it's probably possible to wait a minute before calling out your grieving friends.


Joe M. said...

I was curious, since you describe yourself as a Zionist (i.e. an advocate of a Jewish ethnostate in Israel with a Jewish majority and character), whether you would characeterize Europeans who want their countries to maintain their historic majorities as racists or xenophobes.

Also, as someone who has in your writing elsewhere characterized people reluctant to absorb refugees from Syria as xenophobic or bigoted, I was curious whethee you are in favor of Israel granting asylum to a proportionate share of the refugees fleeing war torn Syria and other places in the Muslim world who are currently desperately seeking asylum in Europe and elsewhere. If not, are you then a bigot or xenophobe?

I think consistency is important.

Anonymous said...

I think those fleeing Syria and elsewhere should go to Russia. It is a large country and already has a diverse population.

Joe M. said...

If you think Russia should accept these refugees you're entitled to your opinion, though it's irrelevant to my point, which is that anyone who supports the existence of a Jewish ethnostate in Israel and opposes the mass migration of refugees there that simultaneously characterizes other countries with similar concerns regarding their own historical homeland is a shameless hypocrite employing a double standard (i.e. open borders multiculturalism for France/Germany/England etc, selective borders monoculturalism for Israel).

If those who want to maintain the historic ethnic character of the nations of Europe and express concern that today's Syrian (or Iraqi or Afghani or African) refugee may be tomorrow's terrorist is a xenophobic bigot, then surely those who want to maintain the Jewish ethnic character of Israel and express concern that today's Syrian (or Iraqi or Afghani or African) refugee may be tomorrows terrorist are xenophobic bigots as well.