The hidden timeline

A stop sign means that you have to stop moving, observe your surroundings, and identify possible dangers before making a decision. In terms of racism we only say stop.  How can we understand and study it if we don't admit it's there? Photo: Stuart Miles via freedigitalphotos.net
A stop sign means that you have to stop moving, observe your surroundings, and identify possible dangers before making a decision. In terms of racism we only say stop. How can we understand and study it if we don’t admit it’s there?
Photo: Stuart Miles via freedigitalphotos.net

I have referred to racism several times recently. The problem is undoubtedly smaller in Norway compared to many other countries, but I still think it could become significantly larger if we don’t deal with the amount we have. The main problem at the moment is that we fail to (or refuse) recognise racism, which could enable it to grow strong while under cover. That could also lead to many, with good reason, feeling that they are being treated unfairly and without any possibility of being believed. Can you imagine anything worse than being discriminated against in a society that claims that racial inequality is a thing of the past? Whatever you say there’s no chance of being heard or believed.

There’s no doubt that prejudices are growing rapidly, and in this context we can’t say that we are not a member of the European community (many feel that the very open antisemitism in for example France could never happen here, which is a load of crap of course). It was probably easier being a Jew, Muslim and a Romani in Europe 20-30 years ago than it is today. No one feels, nevertheless, comfortable being labelled as a racist, and most people will thus avoid a language that could result in that kind of accusations/control techniques from their opponents. Some racists wrap their ideas into more acceptable formulations. The Norwegian sociologist Katrine Fangen studied Norwegian neo-nazis in the early 1990’s, and found among other things that they talked about ethnicity and culture rather than race. They used these terms, according to Fangen, in a clearly racist way, but they wanted to avoid any accusations of racism. One of our political parties is very populistic when they talk about immigration, and they frequently use terms like Norwegian culture and heritage, and our way of life.

You only need to read a couple of comments following an online article discussing Jews/Israel to get an idea of how widespread antisemitism is, although I do believe this term is frequently used as a technique to control opponents, not least by Israeli authorities (Muslim governments use the same tactics). There’s no room for social criticism because even a well founded criticism of the Israeli government is frequently branded as anti-Semitic. Sometimes by Israeli authorities (or the embassy), but also by many so called “friends of Israel”. I have encountered many of these friends among Christians. Another thing I find troubling is that we distinguish between antisemitism and Islamophobia. We are talking about two Semitic peoples. It is possible to convert of course, and when it comes to Jews, many seem to be of European descent. Islam developed in the same region, and although there are many white Muslims, it is still a religion that most people associate with the Arabs, which is one of the three remaining Semitic peoples. The term phobia is odd as that word is associated with a morbid fear, something irrational that doesn’t have any grounding in reality. These words makes sense when we are talking about fear of heights or social situations, but I wouldn’t even use the term, as many do, together with homo.

Islamophobia has become an accepted term, but there is some disagreement among researchers about the definition. They do, however, agree on the essentials. Islamophobia is about prejudices and generalisations of Muslims. Every Muslim has to be responsible for the actions of any Muslim, as crazy as that sounds. If a Muslim is a terrorist or against individual freedom (especially for women) and democracy, all Muslims must share those attitudes. Apart from the fact that the term islamophobia suggest that a scepticism to Islam is a result of an illogical fear or even disease, it is problematic because it can be used as a weapon to silence opponents, much like antisemitism is used. If you criticise countries like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for lashing or imprisoning rape victims (even children), does that make you an islamophobe? Or is it anti-Semitic when European countries express support for Palestine as a separate state, or when media covers a peaceful demonstration where Ethiopian Jews demand the same rights as other Jews in Israel have?

We need to distinguish between criticism and discrimination. The comparison with disease could also be used to get away with crime. I can imagine someone saying that they didn’t know what they were doing because it was the phobia, the illogical fear, acting. There are some exceptions, though. Anders Behring Breivik undoubtedly had some attitudes and opinions that could not be defended with rational arguments. The Eurabia theory was essential to his understanding of reality. This conspiracy theory states that European politicians and academics are working with Arab countries to colonise Europe. This conspiracy probably originated from taqiyya, and old strategy in Shiite Islam for survival. Historically Shiite Muslims have been recommended to hide their beliefs and intentions while living i oppressive Muslim regimes. I don’t know if this recommendation still stands, but it is true that we are still seeing a strong power struggle within Islam. This has been raging since the prophet Muhammad died.

Islamophobia is more than a conspiracy theory, however. It is also expressed as negative stereotypes (Muslim men despise women, they are undemocratic and terrorists etc.). I still think it would be a mistake not to require something from the people that choose to settle here. There has been a tendency in Europe to allow immigrants to live in parallel societies, and some countries have even flirted with sharia laws. Britain considered introducing Sharia laws for their Muslim population and the largest bank in Norway considered seriously to offer sharia loans to Muslim customers, which wouldn’t exactly promote the idea of equality. In the present climate you tend to be considered intolerant if you criticise this. Tolerance doesn’t seem to be about having integrity and a spine anymore.

It is only racism, in my opinion, if you ascribe negative attitudes to an entire group, such as Jews or Muslims. I don’t have to assume that an arab taxi driver with a long beard is a member of ISIS, Taliban, Al Qaida or any of the other groups that abuse Islam. I don’t have to assume that he has attitudes towards women that most people find offensive and illegal.

There has been a debate in Norway in recent weeks about Syrian refugees. The Labour Party suggested we accept 10 000 Syrians over two years, in addition to the regular refugees we would grant asylum anyway. I believe they did that because they knew the Conservative government wouldn’t go for that, and because the opposition in Parliament won’t have the responsibility of making it work. In my next post I am going to write some about the challenges I believe we and the Syrians will face here.

Some say that racism never existed here, while others argue that it is a thing of the past. That’s what you can read on Norway’s timeline. That’s where we share our lies, but sometimes things come out that we didn’t intend because we thought only our friends could read it. Quite a few politicians have learned that the hard way. So what are the messages on Norway’s timeline we don’t want anyone to know?

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3 thoughts on “The hidden timeline

  1. @ “It is only racism, in my opinion, if you ascribe negative attitudes to an entire group”

    There’s an objective standard. “In the Kingdom of Heaven, there’s neither greek nor jew, male nor female, bond nor free.” Christ pointed out a reasonable way to have peace among all groups — in public. And that’s by not giving special consideration or recognition to anyone. I believe that extends to children and elders, residents and strangers, and other such distinctives.

    That doesn’t mean there would not be places where the unique traits and talents and conditions that we each have should not be considered, appreciated, or rewarded; the home, the church, private clubs and organizations, for instance. Are parts of the workplace public or private? Should public funds be spent on private concerns? We could explore many such questions….

    The sweep of history into prophecy shows continued failure to establish utopias on earth. Frankly, things overall get worse and worse through the end as best I understand. Christ extends the Kingdom of Heaven into the earth during His coming millennial reign. But as soon as satan is released (after a 1000 year “solitary confinement”), his factions once again rebel.

    I’m completely ok with that since all those that reject God’s ways are being cast out of the heavens and isolated to this world (in whatever dimension). So I have no expectation that this world will ever be turned into a utopia. Ultimately, I believe it will be remade (as a new earth) as also will be the new heavens. Once, sin (doing other than God’s way) is eliminated — then perfection comes.

    So no surprise that prejudice remains even among those that give lip service otherwise. Certainly, in the US slavery was abolished — after which native american nations and peoples were largely wiped out. Slavery continues today in the form of a permanent illegal class of economic refugees — that are largely forced to remain faceless, voiceless, and nameless.

    Again, only lip service is given as regards eliminating such prejudice. I suspect that the technically, biologically, and otherwise “enhanced” populations of the future (thinking 666 system) will seek to enslave those that intend to remain fully human (and considered inferior). We need look no farther than academia to see elitism already institutionalized as a seemingly “righteous” prejudice.

    What to do? Identify the problem. Identify a solution. We’ve done that here. Test it. I have no hopes of general public improvement, though. In private, , there’s a possibility. That’s not to say that the greater majority of cults (called christianity) has any real answers. Same for the greater majority of religions.

    I’ll only point to Christ Himself as Son of God for any real hope. He is the answer and solution — as best I can tell. In the Kingdom of Heaven….

  2. JOhn,

    I share your perplexity over the terms “anti-semitism” and “islamaphobia.” Both terms annoy me, both as to their meaning and how they are used and abused. Yes, both terms are used to silence critics of a nation state’s policies, marginalize Semites who are the “wrong sort of Semite,” and to silence anyone who disagrees with Islam. Legitimate concerns are conflated with hate.

    But speaking of hate….I suppose you have heard about the mass murder committed in the church in South Carolina. That breaks my heart. People murdered as they pray. I mourn the loss of those people, and dread the way that I suspect such an appalling act will be used to further divide people racially in this country and even divide believers. In the south, there is quite enough racial segregation in the churches, now, blacks will have more reason to distrust whites who visit their church. A white visitor could mean them harm. I have always been welcomed in the black churches I have visited/attended, and I am sickened by this young man’s action. He was welcomed as a child of God, and he killed them.

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