Arab Shame, German Shame

There is a lot of talk about how the shame and humiliation of the Arabs (at the hands of history, at the foot of the colonizer, by the Western world) is a contributing factor to the creation of the modern Arab terrorist. This motivation is not restricted to the Middle East, however, as I was reminded on reading an interesting article in the magazine Transitions Online. The article is called “Blind to the Truth” by Tobias Vogel.

The article decribes and analyzes the transformation, over the last decade, of the well-known German writer Peter Handke into a Serbian apologist. What strikes me most about this transformation, in addition to his old-fashioned naziesque “mysticism,” is his sense of shame and humiliation for Germany. Regarding the former point, Vogel says, “Handke always seemed to have a more withdrawn side and a penchant for mysticism. When these tendencies found their application in politics, disaster was preordained.”

When it comes to the latter-point, I don’t even think the hate has anything to do with actual Jews (perhaps it never does). I think he trots out the Jew as a symbol for him of the shame and humliation he thinks his nation has endured, out of the blue, unearned, unfair. And how, look how it’s all happening over again — and to him no less (his mother is Slovenian).

“There is not a people in Europe in this century which has had to endure what the Serbs have had to put up with for five, or more, eight, years,” he told his audience. “There are no categories for this. There are categories and concepts for the Jews. You can talk about that. But with the Serbs, it is a tragedy for no reason, a scandal.”

He seems to believe: First, Germany was “forbidden” to talk about Jews in that certain way. Now, Serbia is treated to the same “international” treatment that was solely responsible for Germany’s enduring shame and humliation. Germany, he seems to think, was both the victim (as Serbia is now) and that victims (aside from Germany and its shadow Serbia) are guilty of their own victimization (Jews then by Germany, Bosnians now by Serbia).

The idea that the primary victims of the conflict had somehow brought all this misery upon themselves had been abandoned by most serious intellectuals by the time of Srebrenica, and they tended to remain quiet for the rest of the war. They understood something Handke still doesn’t get, after all these years.

Handke is motivated by another of the same forces attributed to Arab terrorists. “What seems to animate his relentless denunciation of Western responses to the Balkan slaughter is his hatred of the modern world,” says Vogel.

Hatred and fear of “internationalism” (code for the imagined cabal of intellectuals, homosexuals and collectivists led by Jews), of modernism and of the sinister Other, powers Handke’s “critique” of the Western response to the Balkans. Handke’s is a siege mentality. He’s manning the barricades.

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