By Israel Shamir – February 4, 2007
Demonisation of one’s enemy is a relatively new invention. In the good old times, men fought and then made friends – and then fought again, like the valiant heroes of the Iliad and like the gallant knights of King Arthur. The warriors who fought and killed each other will forever drink mead and fight at the same table in the Valhalla. True, the Old Testament tells of Joshua who initiated the first Nuremberg trial by killing five captive kings in the name of the Lord for they “hated Jews and fought against them.” [Joshua, 10]. But from the time of Joshua and until the 20th century, defeated kings were rarely killed and a good fight had little to do with hate. The ideological wars of faith – the Crusades – weren’t exceptional from this point of view as the Muslim and Christian warriors did not forget they – and their enemies - were human. Don Rodrigo El Sid served in turns the King of Castile and the Emir of Saragossa; Pagan Clorinda was a heroine of Torquato Tasso’s Gerusalemme Liberata
. At the famous wedding in besieged castle of Kerak, the Crusaders had sent besieging Saladin a slice of wedding cake, and he enquired which tower the newly-weds would sleep in, so his army would turn their mangonels elsewhere. Prince Igor of Kievan Rus attacked the Kipchaks, the people of steppe, was defeated and captured, but married the Kipchak Khan’s daughter while in captivity. In 19th century, Goethe of Germany and Lermontov of Russia admired Napoleon the enemy of their countries, while Kamal and the Colonel’s son exchanged gifts after exchanging shots at Fort Bukloh of Kipling’s ballad.
Things began to change a hundred years ago, with advent of democracy and mass media as there was the need to convince a lot of people that a war is necessary and justified. The “good guys/bad guys” simplification of Hollywood supplanted the old division of “friend/foe”, and the foe became intrinsically and irredeemably “bad”. This was bad news, because a foe can become a friend, but a bad ‘un can’t become good. He had to be killed, and indeed he usually was killed at the high noon. Admiration for the enemy became impossible; every war became a war between the Sons of Light and the Sons of Darkness. In such a war, there is no place for compassion; cruelty towards civilians is de rigueur
A first serious bout of enemy demonisation was launched by the US media in order to pull unwilling America into the World War One against Germany, as the reward promised by Weitzman to Balfour for Palestine. In the words of Benjamin Freedman
, “after the Zionists saw the possibility of getting Palestine, everything changed, like a traffic light that changes from red to green. Where the newspapers had been all pro-German, all of a sudden the Germans were no good. They were villains. They were Huns. They were shooting Red Cross nurses. They were cutting off babies' hands.”
The Germans were accused of making soap out of British POWs (yes, the soap story of Nuremberg fame is just a replay of the old sham), of bayoneting Belgian babies (this was replayed in 1991 when the Iraqis were accused of throwing Kuwaiti babies out of incubators), of sinking a passenger liner
(loaded with munitions, but this was considered quite an atrocity thirty years before Dresden). There is a wartime poster showing the German as a dreadful gorilla snatching a fair maiden, a precursor to King Kong.
This demonisation of Germans only increased in 1930s, allowing for boycott of German goods with Zionist Palestine as an opening
, and after the war it was crystallised into a new hierarchy of evil with Hitler incarnating a new Satan of flesh and blood. Since then, evil Nazis appeared more often than cowboys in so many Hollywood movies, and we live today in a world, where reference to Hitler equates to ultimate evil.
Now, in order to demonise, one has only to draw a similarity with Hitler, and that will do. Arabs and Muslims fight against Jews, thus they are Nazis and may be considered evil. In 1956, the British PM Macmillan described Jamal Abd el Nasser as a “new Hitler”, for he nationalised the Suez Canal. In 1982, Begin called Yasser Arafat “a new Hitler” as he had to justify his aggression and bombardment of Beirut. Stalin was “worse than Hitler” in a speech by President Bush. Now it is the turn of Iran, whose president is habitually described as “new Hitler” and his people – as “islamofascists”. Ironically, supporters of Iran compare Bush with Hitler, and Bushites with Nazis. This brings to mind Huey Long of Louisiana; when asked whether fascism could ever come to America, he replied, "Sure. Only it will be called anti-fascism".
Hollywood has produced a few movies featuring demon-exorcising priests; they can make one about a demonising rabbi based on Shmuley Boteach
, an author of a book on the necessity of hating evil
who wrote: “Ahmadinejad is an international abomination who can lay strong claim to being the single most hate-filled man alive.” The politicians weren’t far behind, thus Netanyahu: “Hitler went out on a world campaign first, and then tried to get nuclear weapons. Iran is trying to get nuclear arms first.” And Gingrich: “This is 1935 and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is as close to Adolf Hitler as we’ve seen”.
The Israelis wax livid with fury when they are compared with Nazis. They immediately open endless “point out the difference” contest: the Nazis shod boots, we boot shoes, they snarl in German, we sing in our melodious Hebrew, the Nazis were against wonderful Jews, we are against beastly Arabs. Surely Israelis are different from Nazis; and it’s preferable to be a Frenchman in German-occupied France, than a Palestinian in Jews-occupied Palestine. There is no Palestinian Celine, no Palestinian Sartre or Gide to side with the occupying power for the Jewish occupation is harsher.
The Americans like to consider themselves the ‘good guys’ vs. Hitler’s ‘bad guys’. But objectively speaking, there was not much to choose between the two sides. The Americans were beastly enough: they burned Dresden, nuked Hiroshima, starved to death millions of German POWs. Even their racism was quite comparable: in the US, a sexual union of an Aryan and a Black was considered a criminal offence many years before the Nuremberg Laws, and remained so
many years after the Nuremberg Laws were voided (Alabama dropped it from their book of laws in 2000).
I do not bother even to speak about the Soviet side in the war, for it became a commonplace to view Stalin as morally equal to Hitler, and the Communists as being morally equal to Nazis, though this claim is based of some fantasy of Cold War statistics, and actually Stalin’s Gulag never had as many inmates as George Bush’s prisons.
Now, demonisation is a heathen thing. Only an arrogant and godless man can, in his hubris, claim inherent moral superiority over another mortal. This is why demonisation was not known until the Church was marginalised. It is no better to demonise flesh and blood than to idolise it. We have learned “Do not make for yourself a god”; now it is the time to learn “do not make for yourself a demon”. We are blessed with our friends, and we are blessed with our enemies. We are not angels, and our enemies are not demons.
In understanding this, we may learn from Jews who stubbornly and wisely refuse to demonise their own. Ariel Sharon was a brutal killer of women and children who reputedly wanted to be “a Hitler to Palestinians”; but The New York Times
of Sulzberger disregarded our futile attempts to demonise him, he was well received by the high and mighty, and he went down in history as a kind old soldier. The Jews did not allow the demonisation of the Jewish executioners of Stalin’s Secret Police nor even of ruthless Jewish mob killers and recorded them all as “men who loved their Jewish mothers
The Jews do not fall into the trap of demonisation for they know: everyone can be demonised. This lesson is given in Talmud on the example of Job, who “was perfect and upright and feared God and eschewed evil”. Still the Sages proved him a bad ‘un, just for fun of it. The Writ said that Job did not sin with his lips. Sages said: but he did sin within his heart. If this were not enough, Job had said “he that goes down to Hell shall come up no more” – and thus denied the resurrection of the dead, etc. Thus anyone can be demonised, and therefore none should be demonised.
Moreover, the wise Jews did not demonise Satan himself. Why did Satan incite God against Job?, asked a Talmudic Sage, and he answered: God became overenthusiastic over Job, and He almost forgot the love of Abraham. Satan interfered for the best of reasons, in order to preserve the rightful place of Abraham. “When Satan had heard this homily he came and kissed the Sage’s feet”, says the Talmud (Baba Bathra 15). This was wise, for Satan is not equal to God, and he has a place in His plans.
This theological fallacy of demonisation was well understood by the German Catholic political scientist Carl Schmitt. He is often presented as a man of no moral scruples; but this is a result of misunderstanding him. For him, “the distinction between friend and foe cannot be grounded in morality. It is a matter of us
, not of good
. Both sides are human, so a politician who characterizes “them”
as morally inferior or “bad”
risks not only the hubris of arrogance but also the blasphemy of denying God to be the creator of all. The power of the Lord is over all, even over one’s enemies. It would be blasphemy to treat one’s foes as less than human. We are all moral equals, on Schmitt’s view, even though politics sometimes makes it “necessary” to kill one’s enemies”, in the short but precise presentation of modern American philosopher Newton Garver
misunderstood the idea of Schmitt so completely that one wonders whether it is even possible. He wrote: “For Schmitt, the key to successful prosecution of warfare against such a foe is demonisation… According to Schmitt, the norms of international law respecting armed conflict reflect the romantic illusions of an age of chivalry.” It's the ther way around: Schmitt was for the War of Uniforms, carried out between two armies, where civilians are kept out of trouble. He was against demonisation, for it is unacceptable for a religious man. Horton is aware that his reading of Schmitt is flawed, for he writes, correctly: “Schmitt expresses from the outset the severest moral reservations about his concept of demonisation. It is, he fears, subject to “high political manipulation” which “must at all costs be avoided.” He uses Schmitt to attack John Yoo, a Bush appointee who followed Alan Dershowitz into permitting torture, but instead of referring to Dershowitz the Zionist, he appeals to Schmitt who can be presented as a “Nazi legal thinker”. The goal (attacking Yoo) is worthy, but the means (connecting to Schmitt) are foul.
Horton’s article can be understood as a follow-up to the extreme demonisation of 30’s Germany. He refers to Leo Strauss, “a lifelong admirer of Carl Schmitt, a scholar and teacher of his works” but fails to see the great difference. Schmitt was aware of God, Strauss was so godless that he shocked Zionists in Jerusalem of 1930s by his total atheism. Of these two men, of Strauss the Neocon precursor and Schmitt the Nazi legal mind, it’s Schmitt who was calling for a human attitude to an enemy, while Strauss dehumanised all.
Horton writes: “Carl Schmitt was a rational man, but he was marked by a hatred of America that bordered on the irrational. He viewed American articulations of international law as fraught with hypocrisy, and saw in American practice in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries a menacing new form of imperialism.” I wonder what is irrational about it? Even a man on our side of the barricades (and Horton is here) can’t admit that the state that vetoes every resolution condemning Israel and calls to war on Iran is so hypocritical that Molière would rewrite his Tartuffe if knew about it? Horton’s typically Jewish attitude – “if we are criticised, this is irrational hatred” – became the hallmark of American thinking which grew out of demonisation of the enemy.
You can’t demonise just one person and stop: the demonisation of one causes more demonisations to follow. The attacks on Muslims, Arabs, Iranians are a follow up of the preceding attacks on Germans. Thus the Canadian Jewish columnist Mordecai Richler wrote: “Germans are an abomination to me. I'm glad Dresden was bombed for no useful military purpose. The Russians couldn't withhold and mistreat German prisoners of war long enough for me.” And Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel improved on him: “Every Jew, somewhere in his being, should set apart a zone of hate—healthy virile hate—for what the German personifies and for what persists in the German.” From here, it was a short jump
to Dan Gillerman, Israeli representative at UN, calling the Hezbollah “ruthless, indiscriminate animals”, to 1982 Israel's chief of staff Rafael Eitan pushing Palestinians as “drugged cockroaches into a bottle”. But now, even Germans happily follow this line of accusations against their late Fuehrer, and join in the universal condemnation of Iran and Arabs. “President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a rising Adolf Hitler with his stand on Iran's nuclear programme, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said
Indeed, people who suffered from attacks of hostility are keen to join the group and to be hostile to somebody else, it is only a human, or even simian quality. Enchanting Mexican painter Miguel Covarrubias mentions such a case in his immensely entertaining book on Bali. In a Balinese household, an angry tame ape climbed up on a tree and tossed coconuts all over. In vain the owners tried to get the ape down by offering him sweetmeats. Then they cornered a pitiful dwarf, a servant, and made a convincing scene of thrashing and punching him, and lo! The ape climbed down and joined the persecutors in the free-for-all. In no time the silly beast was back in a cage. In order to stay out of the cage, the ape should steer clear of the temptation to join in a permitted attack on somebody else. Apparently, this is a hard task even for humans.
Thus, if we want to restore peace in the world, we have to eschew demonisation altogether, including the Pole of Evil, Adolf Hitler. I really could not care less about Hitler, one way or other. I neither admire nor demonise, neither love nor hate him, nor Napoleon nor Genghis Khan. These scourges are dead. I have a warm spot for the present Hitler, Ahmadinejad; I feel no qualms about yesterday's hitlers, be they Saddam Hussein, Nasser or Yasser Arafat. My father fought for Stalin, and you were told by President Bush that Stalin is worse than Hitler. For me “Hitler” is a generic name of an enemy of Jews, like “Amalek”.
Indeed, a man who feels so strongly about Hitler is a heathen; he denies God and chooses flesh and blood as his personal god and his personal demon. That is why the observant Jews of Neturei Karta could go to the Teheran Conference, while godless ones were scared off by the name of the dead Austrian. The demonisation of Hitler caused the deification of Jews, and thus the new theology of thoroughly heathen neo-Judaism was created.
Creation of a man-made Pole of Evil caused a number of anomalies in public discourse. The demonisation of racism is a result. One may disapprove of a silly man who considers himself being of a better breed than others. Still this is a very common sort of vanity, shared by many people of “higher castes”, i.e. of noble, priestly and Jewish descent in our society. Belief in superiority of the white race, or of Anglo-Saxon stock is just a democratic version of the higher-caste vanity, suitable for people who can’t claim noble or Jewish descent. If and when these supposedly higher-caste persons will give up their vanity, when they renounce their titles and make a bonfire of the Threat of Assimilation
book by Lipstadt, then they may attend to the mote in their commoner neighbour’s eye.
Small-time racism is hardly a problem in our society. I, a dark-skinned and moustachioed Mediterranean man, have never been on the receiving end of it for 60 years of my well-travelled life. Admittedly I never tried to annoy the native inhabitants by playing loud foreign music, practising strange customs in public or behaving in conspicuous way. There is some tribal like and dislike in Israel, mainly between various Jewish tribes, and it is surely unpleasant enough, but I am not sure it is up to bad old racism.
Racism is so little of a problem, that the search for sacrificial racist went completely astray. French MP Georges Freche
was thrown out of his party because he said that the national football team of France should not be all black. He publicly said, “nine of 11 players in our national football team are black. Three or four black players would have been a normal proportion.” Blacks indeed are well endowed in sports and music, like the Greeks of Homer, but maybe the native French are also interested and are entitled to play football in their own team. Yes, this sentence appears slightly off the strict reading of political correctness; but it is certainly common sense.
These equality ideas should be given a say, not a free run. It is all right for Swedes to have a female pastor from time to time, but there are no male pastors anymore, and very few worshippers. Likewise, if all football players were black, maybe the native French will not be interested enough even to watch football anymore. Indeed, the French national football team should not be all (or predominantly) black; and the leading journalists and talking heads of French TV should not be all (or predominantly) Jewish. The Africans and the Jews came to France, are happy with French hospitality, and do not intend to displace the natives. If the French socialists continue to be that strict with their members, they will frogmarch into oblivion with the dinosaurs; and Segolene Royal will be just the name of a politician who stopped le Pen to advance Sarkozy.
In England, a ballet dancer
Simone Clarke expressed her view that the country has enough immigrants, and the endless process of importing workers should slow down or even cease. Well, it is a view, certainly a reasonable one, and within the Bill of Rights, or Magna Carta or whatever nowadays authorizes freedom of speech. Some crazy anti-racists went to demonstrate against the dancer’s being engaged in the Ballet. The dancer is a good person, not a racist in any meaningful meaning of the word; not that it matters, but she is even married to a Chinese dancer; but for godless, obsessive Hitler-demonisers even such a moderate view may not be expressed, and if expressed, the person should be kicked to the street, unemployed and homeless. As a Communist, I do stand for Simone Clarke’s right to belong to BNP and
to dance Giselle on the scene of English National Opera, and the active protesters should go first to protest Barbara Amiel writing in the Daily Telegraph.
In Germany, these anti-racists and anti-Nazis walk around with the Israeli flag and demand kaffiyehs to be taken off
like Schneider of Leipzig:
“What we all share is support for Israel and coming out against any form of anti-Semitism, fascism and sexism,” says the center's director, Christian Schneider, 26.
A good example of the pro-Israel activity in Leipzig is the public campaign against wearing kaffiyehs
, once an essential accessory in the European left-wing activist's wardrobe. "Do you have a problem with Jews or is it only that your neck is cold?" was the slogan for the campaign organized by the center in recent years. The campaign aimed to prevent young people from wearing what the center perceived as a symbol of identification with the Palestinians and with anti-Semitism, reported Haaretz
These crazy things are a result of the extreme demonisation of Hitler. Again, we may learn from Jews, who expel immigrants by planeloads, fight miscegenation and assimilation while always adding “this is not racism”
. Why is it not racism? In a Jewish joke, a Rabbi was delayed on a trip, he noticed Sabbath is approaching, so he prayed and a miracle occurred: it was Sabbath everywhere, but still Friday in the Rabbi’s Cadillac. Likewise, opposing (or even mouthing the word) miscegenation is racist; but miraculously, not for a Jew
“Racism”, i.e. preference given by a native to a native at the expense of a stranger is a perfectly normal and normative behaviour. This attitude is ordered by the Bible, this attitude safeguards the intimate relationship between a man and his soil. In the Jewish prayer, God is asked to give rain and to disregard the prayers of a stranger who asks for a dry weather. Some moderate “racism” is the best guard of the land; and you have no reason to worry: cosi fan tutti
, they all do it.
Mind you, “racism” is not a virtue in the Christian book. But nor are greed, gluttony, lust, envy and pride. Still we do not see a politician being expelled from, say, a Socialist party for running a gourmet column, for giving an advice on the stock market, for marching on a gay pride parade, for buying a car as good as that of his neighbour. There are “anti-hate” laws, but no “anti-pride” laws.
Whatever one may think of racists of old, today this title of contempt is given to anyone who does not deny roots and attachment of a man to its soil and community. The archetypal racist of our days, say, a racist saint, would be Simone Weil, who considered roots a virtue, and uprooting a sin. (She vehemently objected to the demonisation
of Germany in France 1939). Thus, whoever supports immigration, sins, for he supports uprooting. So one can argue whether it is better to be good to one’s neighbour the potential immigrant by allowing him to come and stay; or by forbidding him to leave his home country. There is no sure-fire answer to this question, and I say that as a perpetual immigrant. And if you are told ‘you are racist’ for you object to mass immigration, respond with ‘You are uprooting poison’, as Simone Weil did.
Being unable to “demonise back” the Jews and the Americans; the Nationalists and the Far Right tend to demonise the Russians, the Soviets, the Communists. They are not too successful, so we do not have to fight it much. Suffice to say, the mad numbers of “millions killed by Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot” are just a figment of imagination. None of them killed as many as the American Empire did and does. None of them exiled so many as Israelis did.
There are no Evil Empires, only unchecked ones. Soviet Russia was not an Evil Empire, nor was Communism embodied in Stalin and the Gulag. Sholokhov, Block, Pasternak, Esenin, Mayakovsky and Deineka embraced the Revolution and expressed its ideas in art. It was a land of the great and partly successful experiment in equality and brotherhood of Man, of a brave attempt to defeat the spirit of Greed. Communists and their supporters tried to liberate labour, to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to earth, to remove poverty and free the human spirit. Communism brought forth the social democracy of Europe.
Germany was not an Evil Empire, nor was the spirit of organic traditionalism embodied in Hitler and Auschwitz. The Traditionalists tried to establish an alternative paradigm based on Wagner, Nietzsche and Hegel, to go to the roots and traditions of the folk. Not in vain, the best writers and thinkers of Europe from Knut Hamsun to Louis Ferdinand Celine to Ezra Pound to William Butler Yeats to Heidegger saw a positive element in the Traditionalist organic approach. If Russia and Germany had not been demonised, it is quite possible we would not have seen them coming to such extremes.
We have to restore the balance of mind and discourse lost in the aftermath of the World War Two, due to the too-complete victory of the bourgeois ‘Judeo-American’ thought. While condemning excesses and war crimes, we should regain the kingdom of the spirit from Mayakovsky to Pound. There are no evil men, we are created in the image of God, and all ideas are needed to produce new thought.
Last updated 07/02/2007