27 January 2015

"I" IS FOR ISM, ANTISEMITISM AND HOLOCAUST | Guest Post for International Day of Commemoration of Memory of the Victims of Holocaust

"Comparative and expository. This article will get you thinking deeply. Opinions expressed, however, are that of the author and his alone" - Editor's note.

Guest Writer: Carl Terver

The #JesuisCharlie hashtag is said to be one of the most popular hashtag in the history of Twitter. What made this hashtag so popular? Belief is a strong force that the best psychoanalysts haven't understood the phenomenon behind it. It's a force so strong that compels the human mind to undertake the daring, to firmly hold on to ideals, to adhere to something abstract and even defend it. Following the Charlie Hebdo killings citizens all over the world campaigned in a protest showing their solidarity. Not just this, most people were in this campaign to also support the freedom of speech which the attack on the cartoonists sought to condemn. While these protests and rallies were going on in the whole of Europe and all over the world a settlement, Baga, in Northeast Nigeria was under gunfire, a deadly assault that claimed according to news report about 2000 lives compared to the 19 in Paris. In both incidences people died, there was the loss of human life. In Paris it was a clash of beliefs; in Baga it was the superimposing of belief, belief meted against.

On the other hand humanists across the world showed concern about the massacre in Baga, why it received less or no attention from international media, why there hadn't been a solidarity from the citizens of the world to empathize with Baga. The continuous waste of lives in Nigeria's northeast has lost news worthiness which played a role to the unconcern of most of the world's citizens to Baga compared to just a few killings in Paris. Was there no belief to defend in Baga? The freedom of the right to live? An undertone, a delicate one, interplayed at the world stage during the Charlie Hebdo and Baga killings, the reaction to and the protests of right. It was the economics of ideology. This undertone is an old one that has lived through history. 

But the delicacy of this undertone will not refrain me from addressing it convincingly. Throughout history we've seen the superiority of one group of people exercised over an inferior group. We've seen the exchange between these two over and over, where people are seen as racially fit or unfit. Where people are regarded as either pure or impure species, more intelligent and less intelligent. At surface levels these might just be theories but it breeds a kind of carnality in the hearts of men. The world has witnessed this carnality incarnate into a full blown catastrophe, one that is a blight in the story of history. It incarnated in Germany. 

If as a citizen of the world you haven't heard of "antisemitism" you must be deep in a deep sleep or rather very uninformed. If you belong to the former you cannot be forgiven. "Antisemitism" like belief as I've mentioned earlier is the outplay of that delicate undertone, it is ideology stretched beyond its elastic limit. To be frank "antisemitism" is the 'loathing' of anything Jewish. I believe you sensed my subjective stance in that sentence, it is intended. After reading this article you may find out more about antisemitism of you want to. 
During the years 1933 to 1945 Hitler and friends devised a 'final solution' to the 'Jewish problem'. The Jewish problem was that they were just too much around Europe (the kind of that-shit-sucks), population concentrated mostly in Germany and its surrounding states estimated at over nine million. The Jews as a people were displaced from their country one too many times they had to emigrate, thus the influx of their population in European states. But this was not welcomed, it was not a pleasure to be a host nation to them. What happened in Germany was the manifestation of an old age problem that was finally nicknamed "the Jewish problem". The Jews have been a people to face persecution from time immemorial, from the pharaohs of Egypt to the gas chambers of Hitlers. But Hitler was going to end that problem with His Struggle. 

After World War 1 (WW1) disillusionment swept across the world. People had faint belief in the progress of civilization and mankind; social and economic disasters left many affected States devastated. Germany was not an exception. It was reported that the value of the German reichsmark was beyond worthless. But things got better after reforms and the Jews with a long history of perseverance persevered in their then residing territories, alongside the nationals to build a working economy. All would have been well save for a few idealistic ideologists. These ideologists claimed that the Jews were in a race to outrun the Europeans, Germans especially, in imperialistic achievements, that the Jews had a propaganda to dominate every sphere of life (social, political, economical) and such must be excommunicated from Germany. These ideologists deducting on the Darwinian theory of the superior intelligence of one biological species over the other tagged the Jews as inferior. Publishing pamphlet after pamphlet, book after book, in dailies, everywhere, until the thinking of most Germans was geared to an antisemitic consciousness. To these ideologists 'I' was for ism. So that when the executor of such a belief, Hitler, came to power, he was able to convince his country men and women that the Jews were a question on the nationhood that needed a Final Solution. The Final Solution that was preluded by the Night of The Broken Glass was the mass incinerating of Jews in droves at concentration camps, it was the daily increase of death toll for the Jewish race until six million Jews were eviscerated from existence. Just like that. Every facet of the German state facilitated that genocide, and Hitler preached the Aryan gospel to defend such barbarity. The rest is history. 

But what is history if not events cataloged in some antiquated cabinet of existence? It's some glossary where we go to find out the meaning of a word, but to what intent? Because we seem not to have understood what those words mean, like the isms. 

How is I for ism? 'I' is the first person that denotes a me-first centralism. The 'my', 'my right', 'I am', the brunt being the demeaning or undermining of the second 'you' and third 'them'. An ideology. The crass result is the placing of the 'I' over 'you', the denial of 'you' because of 'I'. It's Soyinka's I'm right, you're dead. It doesn't matter how erroneously right you are. This is how  'I' is for 'ism'. 
It's quite uncanny how the events of the world unfold. How we have to commemorate the Holocaust in a time when the world is spinning in ideologies suffering shades of violence, where the concerns over the severity of violence is economized, where people are been killed in defense of beliefs. I think it's a good time to remember, yes, simply, to remember. In an age of the hashtag, #HolocaustMemorialDay #IcommemoratetheHolocaust #NoToHolocaust, and in the spirit of Charlie Hebdo, je suis - no - #EhyehYehudi, today let 'I' be for #IceCream.

About Our Guest Writer
Carl Terver
Carl Terver arches his brow intermittently it has become a trait. His mind is immersed in literary consciousness; a respective poet, writer and critic. He's into movies, consulting the oracle and writing. Find him on Twitter @CarlTerver (for the love of creative extremism)

Images Credit: Asiansunday, Acelebrationofwomen, Beforeitsnews, Carl Terver.

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