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When will hatred stop?

By Bert Hetebry

I read an interesting book recently, The Power of Strangers by Joe Keohane. Subtitle is The Benefits of Connecting in a Suspicious World.

I talk to strangers, and very quickly discover they are not really strange at all, in fact, many are a lot like me; living a life and willing to talk about it, even with strangers. In one such encounter I mentioned to a woman that I am in a local ukulele choir which meets every Monday evening. She was new to our area, plays a ukulele and is now a member of our choir… and she is far more accomplished at playing and singing than I am.

(Bugger, that’s the last time I mention that!)

Most mornings I ride about 3km to a beach and walk for an hour or so, but with winter setting in and the beach sand having been taken away to be cleaned for the summer, there was not much beach to walk on, so wandering where I could I passed by a young lady who smiled up at me, and we began to chat. Her accent was pretty broad, she was visiting from Belfast, Ireland. She is here with her family, a British soldier and their young son.

Her family is Catholic and it did not go down well that she married a British soldier but she is again a welcome visitor at home. (It’s amazing how forgiving a grandparent can be when they meet their newest grandchild.) I asked her about the troubles and how that affects life in Northern Ireland today. The polarisation is still there, but then she made an interesting comment, the two sides of that social/religious divide have chosen sides in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. The Catholics are for the Palestinians. Protestants for the Israelis and the flags are flying all across Belfast.

I got the feeling that the division in Northern Ireland is still quietly simmering beneath the surface, some social changes are slowly happening, abortion is now legal. It was not long ago that a pregnant woman would take an overnight ferry to England and arrive back the following morning, soon enough to avoid any suspicions of what may have been the reason for an absence… mmm, in the club eh? Gay marriage is legal but frowned on in the churches. Civic ceremonies only.

The conversation regarding the Gaza situation was so much different than one I had on line with a person who likes to push my buttons. He posted, ‘I don’t understand why the Palestinians do that’.

‘What?’

‘October 7’.

We had covered that ground before; he keeps posting YouTube videos of angry Jews berating the stupidity of the Palestinians, how they want to take over Israel, God promised it to Abraham and his descendants in Bible, the book of Genesis (same book where we get the creation story and Noah’s flood), and we are his descendants and so forth. The stories are always so strongly defensive of their right to the land and that Palestinians should just disappear. His posts are filled with hate. There is a denial of Palestinian human rights. Interestingly, he also voted NO, a very definitive NO, in The Voice referendum, probably for the same reason, they should fit in or disappear.

So he calls me Muslim, cites passages from the Koran such as ‘everyone is born Muslim’ (apparently that is in the Koran, he cites a text reference), but I have tried to remain polite, putting up with soft name calling, me being Muslim for example, being ignorant, being woke. So I address him by his name as I offer a defence, no, explain my stance on humanitarian grounds, citing the history of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict over time, since 1948, the UN plan to have displaced European Jews settle in Palestine, a nation blending two peoples, Israelis and Palestinians, but that the Palestinians have been pushed aside, endured the Nakba, live in virtual imprisonment in Gaza. All is like water of a duck’s back, quite irrelevant. October 7, October 7, October 7. Rapes, beheaded babies, and so forth… Yes, I forwarded an Aljazeera documentary which exposed those lies, but you can’t trust them to tell the truth, can you!

The ‘debate’ becomes ugly despite my efforts at decorum. And is reflective of the debate and protests we see, not just here, as displayed in Parliament today, but all around the world. The weaponising of antisemitism, the power plays by various lobbyists that almost amount to blackmail, the hate speech. The disregarding of the very potent images of the destruction of Gaza to a pile of rubble, the destruction of hospitals, the killing of reporters within Gaza, stifling the access to reporting, the ever so slow delivery of aid, food, water, fuel, medical supplies, but that is not genocide, is it? And oh dear, the ‘mistake’ of blowing up those tents which had just been moved to a safe zone killing 50 or so women and children.

And then today, changing the topic, the questioning of Dr Anthony Fauci in the US Congress, belittling him for the work he did during Covid, to be berated, insulted, told he was not worthy of the title ‘Doctor’, accused of taking kickbacks (OK, no real accusation, but questioned about how much he got paid by the pharmaceutical companies. Answer, nothing, $0.00). One member of Congress was a doctor at the time, working in a hospital and accused Dr Fauci of making life difficult for unvaccinated people and doctors such as him working, saving lives in hospital wards. The headline WATCH: Brilliant Doctor CONFRONT Fauci on ”Making life difficult for unvaccinated”.

My posting Dr Fauci’s record as a research doctor in developing vaccines and medicines to treat HIV/AIDS among other diseases was poohoo’d as being far less important than a doctor working in a hospital saving lives. Mmmmmm, and then to be called a liar for daring to mention that at the time the internet was full of QAnon conspiracies regarding mask wearing and vaccinations.

That I got involved in that ‘discussion’ was probably a big mistake, but it highlights the hate which is so much a part of online discussion, the lack of ‘listening’, of reasoned debate being ignored or dismissed, of headline type arguments followed by insults if you dare to disagree. And another YouTube video of someone angrily spouting more bullshit.

Unfortunately, the same is evident what should be more civilised debate. The political point scoring in Parliament yesterday regarding the protests and vandalism outside electoral offices, where the Prime Minister said it should stop, and that descended into the Leader of the Opposition accusing the Greens of orchestrating that… that may not be the exact words, but that was the implication.

Politics here has become hate-filled, debates reduced to headline grabbing one liners, where detail is given, the call for detail as in the announcement to encourage permanent residents to join our military as a pathway to citizenship, outlining both a timetable and who will be encouraged to join up, in other words, don’t listen, more detail, don’t listen, more detail.

Hate and division.

How sad a place the world has become.

Except when we take the time to meet a stranger and just chat about life, listen to their story, tell your story, engage and above all… take the time to LISTEN.

Have a real conversation.

 

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24 comments

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  1. John C

    [Hate and division. How sad a place the world has become.]

    How true is that statement. In my time on this planet I have never experienced so much division and hatred amongst people as there is now. Over the years I’ve done lots of travelling and have seen poverty and misery pretty much everywhere I’ve been, while the rich get richer and brag about how much they have and think nothing of those that don’t. Our species started to turn hedonistic and greedy during the heady days of the 80s when enough was never enough and everyone wanted more, like they saw others on the telly did. Since then we have been on a downward spiral of obsessions with money and power and all the ‘pleasures’ that come with it. Basic old fashioned values such as being polite and respecting others and their opinions have been thrown out the window for a more confrontational and suspicious approach towards others.

    We are a complicated species. Sadly Bert it is not as easy as you make out to meet and just chat to strangers because they usually have the same suspicions and fears as we do about being approached by people we don’t know, wondering what their motive is or what they are after from us. It has become second nature to react like this in our modern world. I miss those days way back when you could sit at the bar next to a stranger and just say G’day over a beer!

  2. Phil Pryor

    The hatred will not die, nor the stupidity, but those who fight for educated and polite discussion will. Superstition will thrive, multiply, re-energise, but enlightenment, analysis and observation seem to be reducing, receding. What a world…

  3. Canguro

    Some people’s minds are absolutely resistant to any information that might require them to modify or throw out their current POV. It’s not worth wasting your time trying to convince them otherwise. Logic & reason aren’t acceptable, hence useless. I met a woman a few years ago, a German lady, in her early seventies, and back in Australia for the first time since 1973, when she attended the Aquarius festival at Nimbin in northern NSW and was no doubt a vigorous young European hippy chick.

    Now aged, a bit frail, she attended a monastery for an intensive meditation period, and a couple of months later I took her up to Brisbane for her return to Germany. We corresponded for a while, email exchanges, and towards the end she wrote about the chemtrails in the skies and how the government was executing a policy of deliberately poisoning the citizens. I replied, wrote about contrails, included links to articles that were designed to annihilate this persistent urban myth of population control by aerial misting of toxic chemicals. She replied, ‘too long, didn’t read.’ I gave up, never wrote to her again. Some people are beyond engaging, just too deeply attached to their stupidity.

  4. Terence Mills

    I Hear that today is Jerusalem Day which marks the Israeli capture of East Jerusalem in the 1967 war and is celebrated by thousands of far-right Israelis and Jews with a march through the Arab quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. Evidently it is a show of strength and defiance by right wing Jews and Israelis who claim the old city as theirs and they annually march and attack Arab residents (and journalists) chanting ‘death to Arabs’ and make ‘Gaza a graveyard’.

    Evidently it is not considered as antisemitic so doesn’t warrant comment in our parliament or media and no action is taken by the Israeli authorities.

    Go figure !

  5. Roswell

    Off topic, but is anyone else having issues trying to access The AIMN? A number of times today I’ve got a pop-up telling me the site is down.

    Anyone?

  6. JulianP

    Nice one Bert, thank you.
    As to why (for example) some continue to support Israel in defiance of its history and observed reality, may I suggest a recent essay from a Jewish person; it offers an insightful comment on “loyalty to the group”; it might go some way to explaining the mind-set of your online correspondent:
    [ https://johnmenadue.com/grief-guilt-by-association/ ]

  7. Canguro

    Hi Roswell, load speeds have been bouncing around, but no absolute ‘cannot connect’. It’s wet here in Sydney… may have something to do with transmission speeds.

  8. Roswell

    Thanks, Canguro. I wasn’t sure if it was my connection or the site’s.

    Like your gravatar, btw.

  9. Canguro

    JulianP… and any others… useful to follow up from the Pearls & Irritations link you provided to the ‘Jewish person,’ Avigail Abarbanel‘s Substack location to read the ~31 comments from others who’ve read that essay. Illuminating stuff.

  10. Bert

    Terence, being one of Abraham’s descendants gives special license, an ‘exceptionalism’ where the normal rules of humanity do not apply.

    That same ‘exceptionalism’ is evident in branches of Christianity. I was raised a Calvinist, that, I was assured, I was elected by god to be one of his chosen…. you may notice the lack of capitalisation for god and his.

    The same mindset drove the colonial spirit, somehow Europeans were ‘exceptional’. With better ships, guns and immunity to diseases like smallpox proved to be far better than the savages who occupied the Americas, Africa and Australia.

    Reading about Jerusalem Day I noticed a quote from a woman in the march referencing the promise to Abraham.

    I have tried and failed to get an answer to those questions from god, silence is all I managed to get.

    Bert.

  11. Terence Mills

    Roswell

    I had a few problems logging on this afternoon but seems to be OK now.

  12. Roswell

    Thanks, Terry. I haven’t had that one yet.

    Touch wood.

  13. JulianP

    @Canguro
    Thanks for that suggestion.
    I visited the site and left a comment – tho’ not sure if it was published.

  14. Andrew Smith

    When it stops working and the ‘great replacement’ has commenced; and why so much hatred amongst often comfortable middle class e.g. Australians and others in the developed world?

    Divide the electorate and multiply the vote? (Mike Moore, Frontline)

    Related to codependent narcissists in Netanyahu & Hamas regimes, used in the (Christian RWNJ) Anglosphere to ‘wedge’ the centre by both the nativist right and ideological left, in leaving neither space nor wriggle room for the centre. This is especially apparent in RW MSM noise directing claims of anti-semitism towards the centre and ideological left, while the latter too often treats the Hamas regime as innocents; bypassing civilians and inconvenient facts.

    Even the centre right Bulwark in the US called out the hypocrisy of the RW MSM and commentators accusing others of anti-semitism, while ignoring how many right wing groups behind Trump, GOP etc. and partly informed by white nationalist Tanton Network, e.g. Proud Boys, who are both anti-semitic and Islamophobic?

    Also see their allies e.g. Hungary’s PM ‘mini Putin’ Orban, whose government supports the Koch Heritage linked Danube Institute where Abbott works; Hungary is allied or friendly with Russia, China, Netanyahu’s Israel, Iran etc. and ran the (anti-semitic & Islamophobic) ‘Soros conspiracy’, but not a peep from Anglo RW MSM, as it’s also shares anti-EU sentiments and Hungary is their ‘Trojan horse’ too (with Putin)?

    With (anti-semitic) friends like this…. ‘What is former Iranian leader Ahmadinejad doing on a secret trip to Budapest?’ (Euronews, 8 May ’24)

    Related, Media Matters had an article based on NYT about Tucker Carlson, former employee of Fox News (along with dec. white nationalist John Tanton’s chum Peter Brimelow), who spent 18 months spewing anti-semitic vitriol at Ukraine’s Zelensky after Putin’s invasion, till stood aside (while some colleagues projected Islamophobia towards others); ‘show biz’ or political agitprop for management?

    https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2022/04/30/us/tucker-carlson-tonight.html

    *9 September ’97 John Tanton wrote to Tucker Carlson after meeting, to offer a free subscription to his TSCP The Social Contract Publishing, described by SPLC as:

    ‘TSCP routinely publishes race-baiting articles penned by white nationalists. The press is a program of U.S. Inc, the foundation created by John Tanton, the racist founder and principal ideologue of the modern nativist movement. TSCP puts an academic veneer of legitimacy over what are essentially racist arguments about the inferiority of today’s immigrants.’

    https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/group/social-contract-press

    Many of Tanton’s white nationalist talking points are accepted as valid without question by our RW MSM, politicians, commentators etc. then feeds into bipartisan migration/population policies and dog whistling, pining for white Australia?

  15. New England Cocky

    @ Julian P: I have had considerable trouble keeping my connection with AIMN ….. for months now. It is very difficult to get through the MSM babble without the guidance of Rossleigh’s wit or the wisdom of John Lord. I may have to visit the puta shop for a re-bore.

  16. JulianP

    @New England Cocky
    Sorry to hear of your travails NEC.
    Hope all goes well – but, have to ask: is the puta shop really the answer?

  17. wam

    We were sending food to my mother’s sisters in Largs(Scotland) and Stevenage (england) till well into the 50s.
    Xmas 72 we got an Eurail pass and toured germany, france netherlands, italy often using overnight trains to save accommodation. Then to see my relatives in Britain
    The contrast was amazing.
    The people in stevenage were wearing clothes unsuited to January weather and looked so poor compared to europe.
    There were many young girls with red cheeks and bare legs clutching thin cardigans with one hand and pushing a pram with the other.
    Nothing like that in europe nor Scotland.
    The Irish were catholic and despised as superstitious idiots by protestants indeed my family used to sprinkle salt after a catholic had left and sweep out the demons.
    In Australia ‘what are you ‘ was a normal question at dances in the 60s.
    There were no catholics in the liberal party jed by menzies but the labor catholics supported and kept pig-iron bob in power.
    The rumour was catholics put IGN on the bottom of the page

  18. Douglas Pritchard

    Canguro,
    Thanks for that Avigai lAbarbanel lead reminding me of how a settler should feel in a land that they aquired.
    A bit close to home.

  19. Roswell

    Well, isn’t the NACC is huge let down?

    Scotty gets away scot free.

  20. B Sullivan

    Bert,

    Islam is also an Abrahamic religion, so why aren’t its followers accorded the same licence of exceptionalism?

    Also exceptionalism was never a mindset that drove colonialism. Exceptionalism is a term applied by historians to point out various historical cultures that are outstanding in their achievements compared with their contemporaries. Thus in Ancient Greece, Athens was exceptional in its achievements in developing outstanding art, architecture, science and philosophy compared with the other cultures that existed at the time. The Romans too were exceptional, as was the Islamic empire compared with dark age Christian Europe. The British Empire was exceptional producing the Industrial Revolutional as just one of its outstanding achievements. Nowadays it is the USA which is undeniably exceptional in its exploration of space and expanding our capacity to understand the universe. China’s technological advances suggest that they too will be exceptional but there’s really no reason why other nations can’t keep up with them.

    A history of exceptionalism may promote the mindset you are thinking of but what drives colonialism is the profit motive. The ages of European exploration and expansion are a direct consequence of the Fall of Constantinople which allowed the Turks to control the spice, ceramics and silk trade that Europeans were addicted to. To avoid the increased costs of Turkish taxes imposed on these trade goods, the European had to seek alternative trade routes to China and the Indies.

    The profit motive didn’t just promote exploration and the discoveries of new marketable commodities in the New World, and Africa, it also promoted innovations in science and technology as cheaper locally produced alternatives to items like Chinese ceramics were developed. The exploration and establishment of trade routes also required the need to develop accurate navigation resulting in breakthroughs in nautical, astronomical and geographical science. And when they discovered that African Nations were willing to supply them with a vast source of cheap slave labour they invented colour prejudice to justify the African Slave Trade. Colour prejudice just doesn’t appear to exist in history prior to the establishment of the Slave Trade between the African slavers and the European colonisers of the Americas.

    So I hope you see that although exceptionalism has been used as an excuse to justify domination of the weak by the strong it is not the driving force. It is just an a term to denote outstanding achievement.

    It is the profit motive that is responsible and we are all susceptible to it. We tolerate injustice and stupidity because there is money in it, not because we think we are better than the people we exploit. We just pretend that we are better to make us feel better about the terrible things we are prepared to do in pursuit of wealth.

  21. Frank Sterle Jr.

    So much anger out there. I, too, have been angrier over the last couple of years and sometimes consider that I may someday leave this world that way.

    Collectively and maybe even individually, we humans seem hopelessly prone to the politics of scale and differences, both real and perceived, especially those involving color, nationality, race and religion.

    It’s quite plausible that if the world’s population was somehow reduced to just a few city blocks of seemingly similar residents, there’d be some form of notable inter-neighborhood hostilities, and sooner rather than later.

    Still, from within ourselves we, as individuals, can resist flawed yet normalized human/societal nature thus behavior.

    Perhaps somewhat relevant to this are the words of the long-deceased [1984] American sociologist Stanley Milgram, of Obedience Experiments fame/infamy:

    “It may be that we are puppets — puppets controlled by the strings of society. But at least we are puppets with perception, with awareness. And perhaps our awareness is the first step to our liberation.”

  22. Frank Sterle Jr.

    [Cont.] I sometimes muse whether an extraterrestrial attack is what we humans collectively need to brutally endure in order to survive the long-term from ourselves.

    Humanity would genuinely unite for the first time to defend against, attack and defeat the humanicidal multi-tentacled ETs — with the latter needing to be an even greater nemesis than our own formidably divisive politics and perceptions of differences, both real and perceived.

    During this much-needed human allegiance, we’d be forced to work closely side-by-side together and witness just how humanly similar we are to each other in every significant way.

    … This scenario is, of course, dependent on the assumption that one or more human parties don’t actually attempt to forge an allegiance with the ETs to better their own chances for survival, which would indicate that our deficient human condition may be even worse than originally thought.

    Still, maybe some five or more decades later when all traces of the nightmarish ET invasion are gone, we’ll inevitably revert to those same politics to which we humans seem so hopelessly collectively and maybe even individually prone — including those of scale: the intercontinental, international, national, provincial or state, regional and municipal. And again we slide downwards.

  23. JulianP

    @Frank Sterle Jr.
    Frank, the alien scenario was effectively portrayed by the 1996 American movie “Independence Day” – a real “block-buster”.
    Like many other US movies that involve military hardware and infrastructure, Independence Day could not have been made without the huge contribution of the US Defence Dept – a simple fact it seems many are prepared to overlook or ignore for the sake of “entertainment”.
    The DD involvement is a relatively cheap way to reinforce the illusion of unending might and power.

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