EVERY HUMAN BEING
A German Jewish emigrant:
'It dawned on me that if I looked into my own heart I could find seeds of hatred there, too. I realised that they are there in every human being. Arrogant thoughts, feelings of irritation, coldness, anger, envy, even indifference - these are the roots of what happened in Nazi Germany.'
Are there any other emotions that can lead to hatred? What are they? What does 'hatred' mean? What is it like to feel it? What is it like to be on the receiving end? Does hatred ever feel right and good? If so, when? Does that mean it is right and good?
A Russian writer:
'What mattered about Vitya was that he was my trusted friend, not that he was Jewish. My friend Khristik was Armenian, and Balbek was a Nagay, and Lida was Ukrainian, and Magda was German.
'From what age do we develop this neanderthal dislike, irritation and hostility towards people of a different tribe or faith or origin? From childhood? From birth? I really want to know how it comes to be there in a person at all.
I can say that for us in the children's home someone's nationality was of no importance whatever. I can't remember a single instance of anti-Semitism or racism among the children, unless it came down from the young thugs, older than us, who wintered in the orphanages and taught us the criminal's ideology - which isn't human nature but comes from a different hideous world of brutal oppression that was to swallow many of us.
Neither Nazism nor racism are present as original sin in children who are just beginning life; they are born internationalists. It's only later, within the family, at school. in the street, from peer groups, that prejudice begins to break through, with its ability to subvert any primal truth. And here nothing helps, neither education, nor a profession, nor even belonging to an intellectual élite.'
How do we become prejudiced against people? Is the writer correct in saying it can't be overcome once it's taken hold? Can it be held in check by choosing not to let it dictate how one behaves?
A Croatian writer:
'I met a Turk who was working in Germany. He complained, "When I'm in Germany, they see me as a Turk, but when I visit Turkey, they don't think f me as one of them, they think of me as a foreigner, a German. I always feel I have to choose between the two, and I don't like it." 'Well, how do you feel/ Who do you think you are?" I asked. 'I am both," he replied. It was only others who had a problem with his identity. But in a culture of nationalism, identity is made up of borders, territory and blood, and one is forced to choose.'
What do you think of as your nationality? Does it matter to you? Does other people's nationality matter to you? Do you think someone can have 'identity' without bringing nationality into it?
A Roma journalist:
'After the Second World War, the Roma in Kosovo were given surnames of Turkish, Serbian and Albanian origin, many of them derogatory: Delibalta ('Crazy Axe' in Turkish), Vragovic ('Devil's Children' in Serbian), Choulanjee (a rude word for peasant Roma) or Karach (the Turkish equivalent of 'nigger').'
A Roma from the Czech Republic:
'Four of us went to a park to get some exercise. About twenty skinheads started shouting, "Black pigs! We'll kill you!" '
A newspaper in 1998, on asylum seekers from Kosovo:
Is it easy to call people names? How powerful is it? What's it like on the receiving end?
Two sides of a story:
''The villagers came in the middle of the night. While we were still in the house, the thugs threw rags soaked in petrol through the windows. They were shouting that they didn't want any Romany here, and that they were Hitler's followers, and that Hitler killed Romany and that they were going to do the same.'
'We went to have a bit of excitement. To shout a bit at those gypsies. It was quite exciting. We threw stones at them, and they threw stones at us. I wanted to get into the house they were in. My friend and I kicked the door in, and they smashed my head. We went home - well, we went to the local. The next day the police came after me. The house had burned down. At first I laughed. I didn't care at all. But I stopped laughing when the police came for me, But you know how it goes, I didn't feel sorry.'
'A bit of excitement.' What is the real nature of this excitement? What is the pleasure gained from shouting abuse? How close can this kind of violence come to something much worse? How close can threats come to being carried out?hat sort of attitude makes it possible to abuse people without remorse?
'In the 20th century, civilians have been the major victims of war. Nameless millions, but they had their own names, their own place on earth, until war swept over them, killing them, uprooting them - real people with feelings common to everyone. Grief and pain and fear and the loss of home are emotions that have no nationality. Maybe hate has no nationality either; but I believe hate comes from killing. The first deaths strengthen and feed it. Until the killing starts, hate is an ugly idea, ugly words. War gives hate power and deforms the killers: kill or be killed, kill your own people, kill strangers - hate and killing become a habit.
Leaders make wars. People must first be inflamed with fear and hate, then organised and directed. There are always aggressor leaders, and they are recognisable - but their followers are an enigma. Why is it always so easy to rouse men to kill each other?'
Is it easy? If so, why?
'Collateral damage' (the title of this module) is the term used by the world's military to refer to civilian deaths. What is the effect of using words like this to refer to events like that?
LAW AND ORDER
A Muslim political leader:
'Sharia laws can only be applied in a settled, well-fed, successful country. When many people have nothing, you can't cut off the hand of a hungry little thief. When war mutilates souls, sweep aside moral norms, and devalues life, you can't punish with execution.'
This man is speaking with approval of law and order, and disapproval of war. It's true that Sharia law traditionally includes punishments such as execution and cutting off a hand. How 'settled' can a country be in which these are the punishments? Is there a risk that violent punishment sows the seeds of violent action? Is this the right way to keep people from committing crimes?
A Tanzanian writer:
Armed policemen were ordered to open fire on the people outside the mosque. From the videotape it's quite obvious that the aim was to kill the Muslims. The police commanders are seen and heard ordering their marksmen to take careful aim. In two cases the bullets only wounded the intended victims, and the police ordered the marksmen to shoot again. And they did, with unmistakable zest and ruthlessness.
There is one brief scene in the tape that always moves me to tears. The commander orders a young policeman to shoot. He shoots in the air. The commander orders him to aim his gun at the crowd. The young policeman is clearly torn between obeying his commander and obeying his conscience. The commander repeats the order. The policeman makes an attempt to obey his commander. He raises his gun, he looks at the crowd, but his hands become weaker and weaker, and the gun slowly falls to the ground.'
'I was only obeying orders,' say many of the people responsible for atrocities in war and genocide. What should we do when orders and conscience are in conflict? What should we do about the arming of policemen? What should we do about the commanders of armed men who order the shooting of civilians?
NO CHOICE FOR SOLDIERS
Soldiers fighting Turkish Kurds:
'Whether you actually take part in a conflict or not, you are a part of it. You have to protect yourself. If you don't want to harm them, people think you're on the other side. The toughest war is the one you fight against being there at all: your civil war against yourself.'
'I've seen all I want to know. If the state met the Kurds' needs for their culture and language, and improved the conditions of their lives, there'd be no need to have war at all. Who is the enemy? Not the Kurds. The enemy is the ruling classes - who else?'
What does being a soldier let you in for? The soldier speaking was not a career sldier, he was doing his (enforced) National Military Service: might that make a difference to his attitude? These interviews were published and their editor was arrested for 'insulting the military'. [Conscription]
An African American writer about prisoners:
'It's easy for folks who have enough to eat, homes, land, work, to preach about forgiveness. But is it fair to preach it to people living in hellholes, jobless, starving? Are they to forgive the fat well-fed millions who voted for their starvation? Who voted for war? Who voted for prisons? Who voted for a people's repression? Who wish, in their heart of hearts, that those people had never been born? Should the starving forgive the repression to come, the genocide to come?'
What is fair?