[personal profile] marieldraconis
I just heard (audiobook) Merchant of Venice for the first time, and it reminded me of everything I know about anti-Jew prejudice during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, and...it occurred to me...
In a lot of worrying ways, that's how a segment of the populace is talking about Muslims now. Because it wasn't just usury (which at least was factually true, although modern society has grown more comfortable with the concept of interest on loans) and greed, it was stealing Christian children and deliberately defiling Christian holy sites and despoiling Christian artifacts and rituals. (None of this from the play, but I have faint memories of reading about this sort of prejudice). Not because these were things that were happening, just that it was easy to make the Jews the bad guys (really, after centuries, you might try a bit of forgiveness? No human responsible for it was still alive, and ultimately a good chunk of the reason for the incident in question was forgiveness--of all of us.)

The concept was "war on Christianity", on Christian values and Christians generally. And that sort of rhetoric has come up again. Modernized, and applied to Muslims instead of Jews, but it's ultimately the same thing, just differently targeted, and almost as inaccurate (for the exception, see below)
And, as we saw last century, with even more potential for danger--Ferdinand and Isabella kicked the Muslims out of Spain, if I understand enough of the history. But now, we have the tools for genocide--and off the top of my head, I can think of at least two genocides of a religious group, in Europe, in the 20th century.

Now, where Daesh (ISIL or ISIS, but Daesh at least is a name I'm sure is valid) is concerned, those accusations seem valid, or at least worth worrying about. In Daesh-controlled territory, I would worry about forced conversions and genocide, and destruction of artifacts (not just Christian--artifacts created by humanity in ages past, which matter because history). But I very much doubt they have much influence outside that territory. How many of their attempts to claim responsibility for terrorist attacks are valid, and how many are either them trying to pretend more influence than they have, or some nutjob wanting an excuse for his violence? I get the distinct impression that claiming to be following God's will, either by pledging allegiance to Daesh or by claiming to be a good Christian, is the claimed motivation behind a number of hate crimes and acts of domestic terrorism in the US. But it's as much Christians as Muslims--I'm remembering the nightclub attack last year, but also the Planned Parenthood attack in Colorado the...year before, I think?
No one group is the enemy, except maybe if there's a group out there with the explicit and sole purpose of destroy-all-members-of-[group which includes you]. But even then, why does this group exist, what makes them want to kill-you-all, and never forget you're talking about people, who have motivations and reasons, and who are capable of amazing goodness as well as heinous evil.



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