Racism and nationalism aren’t just for white people anymore. Other groups seem to have a free pass on these deadly prejudices.
It may remain true that white Westerners feel too guilty or socially constrained to express racial animus, but as Western societies become ever more diverse, that fact may change. Furthermore, the new groups migrating to Western lands carry no such historical baggage, and in the absence of a vital moral discourse that reinforces common humanity and human rights, there is no reason to expect these new residents to be magically immune to the historic human temptation of racial groupthink and violence. The violence that marks racial conflict between native-born African Americans and Mexican immigrants in cities like Los Angeles may offer a window into the broader, pan-Western future. What is more, it is clear that the lessons the West learned from the racist excesses of the twentieth century were woefully incomplete, amounting to little more than:
2. It is wrong for European nations to conquer and colonize non-European ones.
3.Because Hitler used ethnic identity as a pretext for murdering people, Western nations must abandon any ethnic or historical basis for their identities—even nations that were conquered and terrorized by Hitler, such as Poland and Ukraine.
4. None of these lessons apply to non-Western nations or non-white people living in them.
In the battle against racism, our culture certainly does seem preoccupied with preventing such unlikely occurrences as the rise of National Socialism in Germany, all the while ignoring or excusing the real and lively threats to human dignity that are arising across the world – even in Europe. Watchdogs who track anti-Semitism in Europe focus much of their attention on tiny, contemptible fringe groups of nationalistic thugs instead of the groups that actually perpetrate most of the anti-Jewish violence across Europe: radicalized Muslims.
Indeed, if we use a more realistic definition of nationalism, we will find that Islamist movements today constitute a grave and growing threat to the safety and liberty of hundreds of millions of people, including both non-Muslims and those Muslims who reject a modern, authoritarian revival of sharia (the Islamic answer to canon law). Religious and ethnic identities often blend and fuse, particularly in the minds of persecutors. So it makes perfect sense to include the worldwide epidemic of religious persecution, most of it perpetrated by radical Muslims, under the heading of racism or nationalism. For these Muslims, there is only one nation: the House of Islam. Everything outside it is the House of War, which they are called to convert, or conquer and subjugate. Non-Muslims in such societies must either convert or accept a kind of Jim Crow status as inferior, humbled, third-class citizens (dhimmis). They are forbidden to take part in politics, and expected to give way to Muslims in every sphere of life.
This is the goal pursued by Islamists who target Christians in a long list of countries, from Nigeria and Sudan to Pakistan, and it is treasured by radical Muslims who dream of breeding and bombing their way to power in England and France. Ancient Christian communities have already been ethnically cleansed from Iraq in the wake of the U.S. invasion, and Christians (among other religious minorities) fear that a similar fate faces them in Syria, should the al-Qaeda linked rebels in that country overcome its brutal, but religiously neutral, Ba’athist regime. Christians in Egypt face mounting violence, as they are made the scapegoats of Islamist frustration in the wake of the military’s crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood.
We must admit to ourselves the ugly fact that Islamism is an ideology and its hoped-for Caliphate a virtual nation (like the Greater Germany Hitler dreamt of). Radical, nationalistic, anti-Semitic, and anti-Christian radicals number in the millions, and seek to control whole countries through groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, which was only dislodged from Egypt in 2013 through a brutal military coup. Such groups’ explicit agendas are both expansionist and totalitarian, openly calling for conquest and the domination of every sphere of life by a rigid ideology. Such groups are leading what journalist John Allen has called (in the title of his 2013 book) The Global War on Christians – though Hindus, Jews, Alawites, secular Muslims, and other would-be victims also number on their list. In certain ways for certain unlucky groups, it really is 1933 all over again.
Jason Jones is a producer in Hollywood. His films include Bella, Eyes to See, and Crescendo. Learn more about his human rights initiatives at www.iamwholelife.com.
John Zmirak is the author of The Bad Catholic’s Guide to the Catechism. His columns are archived at The Bad Catholic’s Bingo Hall. This column is from Jones’ and Zmirak’s upcoming book, The Race to Save Our Century (Crossroad, 2014).