Saturday, March 4, 2017

Mein Kampf!

By Stephen Wilson

MOSCOW -- "2016 was the year when the cynical use of 'us and them' narratives of blame , hate and fear took on a global prominence to a level not seen since the 1930's. Too many politicians are answering legitimate economic and security fears with poisonous and divisive manipulation of identity
politics in an attempt to win votes " , stated Salil Shetty , the Secretary General of Amnesty International, while publically releasing a new international report titled, 'The State of World Human rights'. The report identifies a rising global trend of an angrier and more divisive politics where whole groups of people, whether nations , or religions, are being demonised . The recent attempt by Trump to enforce an order banning citizens from 7 Muslim countries from entering America for
90 days and the halting of the acceptance of refugees from Syria for 120 days, the increase in racist attacks throughout Britain following Brexit and the u-turn by the British government where they will accept no more than 350 refugee children rather than the promised 3000 appear to more than vindicate the report. Amnesty International 's annual report
identifies 36 countries which have violated International law by unlawfully returning refugees to countries where human rights are at risk.
Refugees, rather than being welcomed and assisted after traumatically experiencing the turmoil, torture and afflictions of constant danger, are often being reincarcerated and abused. Refugees represent a convenient scapegoat to promote a new nationalist agenda which distracts people from the more relevant social and economic problems being faced by people.
New words surfacing in the English language may mirror the new times.
The Oxford dictionary has added new words such as 'haterade' (meaning excessive negativity, criticism or resentment) and 'otheride' (meaning to treat a person or group as intrinsically different from others'.) The use of the word 'post truth ' where objective facts are viewed as less influential than emotions and personal beliefs has grown by 2000%.
Salil Shetty has warned that the 'Never again' slogan which followed the Holocust, has been rendered meaningless by mass atrocities committed in Yemen, Syria and Sudan.
Are we witnessing a new dark ages ? Are people becoming more prejudiced, populist and angrier? My experience in Russia offers scant consolation. I have heard too much ranting against either Jews , gays as well as homeless
people. The latter I have seen being beaten up on the streets by not just militia men but other homeless men. However, I have witnessed countless acts of kindness which are never mentioned in any newspapers!
Yet the emergence of prejudice can baffle you. I recently spoke to one young 19 year old student, called Dasha. She told me: "My classmates have read Mein Kampf ,(My Struggle By Adolf Hitler) and some have boasted about
reading it in the original German . They consider it their Bible. " She informed me she had read a Russian translation on the Internet. She read it out of curiosity and not because she agreed with it. 

I asked her: "How can Russians agree with the ideas in a book when Hitler's invasion of Russian lead to over 20 million Russians being killed?" Dasha replied : "They believe that Russia should be run on a similar base as Nazis Germany. My mother told me they will grow out of those views". What is odd is that in Mein Kampf, Hitler wrote that he considered the Slavs as an inferior race. His ultimate aim was to either
exterminate them or keep them barely alive as slaves. I was not the only one at a loss. A lawyer called Marat, told me he that he considered it illogical as Hitler hated Slavs .
A few years ago I was almost beaten up by a fascist who chanted the slogan "Russia is for the Russians and your Queen sucks". His companions intervened and prevented me from being assaulted.
Is this all dark news ? Not entirely! Amnesty International also published a Global survey, which indicates that although xenophobics are becoming more assertive and assaulting more people, acts of compassion and care are also rising.(2016) The report found that as many as 29 % of people polled in Britain would take refugees into their homes. The report found that the people of China, Germany and Britain are the most welcoming to refugees in the World.
The survey covering 27,000 people across 27 countries , reported that 70 % stated their government should do more to help refugees, while 80% said they would accept refugees living in their countries. In Britan, 84 % of people polled said that people should be allowed to take refuge in their country to escape persecution! Even in Russia, which has only 770 officially accepted refugees, most Russians polled agreed
that refugees should be allowed to take refuge in Russia. Now if you believe the statements of the tabloid press and populist politicians such as Trump, the British Prime Minister May, and La Pen, you could be forgiven for believing the opposite. The report indicates that politicians and governments are out of step with the mood of the people and not vice versa. However, sympathy and compassion, no matter how well intentioned, won't suffice. We need to translate this into effective action.


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