Nationalistic Darkness

Bolshevism is bad, but nationalism is worse.
Radovan Karadzic

Found an older newspaper clipping. Montreal Gazette, October 29, 1997, page B3. “Conflicting visions”, an opinion piece by Dr. Charles Ingrao, of the Department of History at Purdue University. Citing fact after fact of how Yugoslavia had been so culturally blended, before nationalism led to ethnic cleansing:

…there is…a battle all Serbs are fighting within themselves over two fundamentally incompatible views of their Balkan heritage.

One is the well-known story of struggle against foreign oppressors, a vision tirelessly “taught” by the nation’s leaders, against another, more sober reality of multi-ethnic coexistence that (Biljana) Plavsic, (Radovan) Karadzic and generations of Serbs have actually experienced.

Indeed, Plavsic earned her doctorate in biology in Zagreb, the Croatian capital, not Belgrade. …Karadzic also spent his prewar years in Sarajevo, residing comfortably in an ethnically mixed apartment house, practising psychiatry. He also presented poetry to members of the city’s cosmopolitan community…

The two combatants’ prewar acceptance of multi-ethnic coexistence typifies the real experiences of intellectuals on all sides of the conflict. Croatia’s historian-president Franjo Tudjman is of German ancestry and counts a Bosnian Muslim sister-in-law and Serb son-in-law within his immediate family. Even the Serb Radical Party’s sociophobic social scientist, Vojislav Seselj, is part Croatian.

This reality of coexistence and intermixing has, however, been forgotten in the headlong quest for ethnically homogenous nation-states. The war converted Karadzic from an affable nonentity, who merely was chided for writing atrocious poetry, to the twice-indicted apostle of ethnic genocide. It inspired Plavsic to embrace the notorious paramilitary leader Arkan and then betray her integrity as a biologist by imputing a “degenerate gene” to Bosnia’s Muslims.

Another national day celebration in Canada, July 1. Yet all seems so much more positive. Perhaps because we see ourselves as friends of the world, and what nationalistic sentiments exist are not referenced to collective strength against some enemy force, real or imagined. Wonder how easily it could turn. Seems that whenever nationalism gets fired up based on a common enemy, cult-like behaviours and intolerances result, and good people become very bad. Wondering how many parallels there are to the outcomes in the former Yugoslavia and the outcomes leading to World War II Germany. And for how long do the scars of human debasement remain? The war crimes trials resulting from the Serbo-Croatian-Bosnian conflict–the new Nuremberg?

All too chilling. Don’t know as much as I need to.

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2 Responses to Nationalistic Darkness

  1. On July 5, 2011, Ahmed Rashad Abualsamh wrote to me as follows (reprinted with permission):

    Subject: Re: The Muslim “degenerate gene”…

    Thank you for sharing.

    No, I was not aware of this “dogma”, but it doesn’t really come as a surprise.

    In times of war all kinds of propaganda and slogans are adopted to further the “cause”. Also, I’m too cynical to believe that they actually believed what they were spewing about Muslims having a “degenerate” gene. I think that this was but one of many falsehoods that were used to polarize and control (the simpler minded) people. Quite ingenious really. As to genetic disposition, there seems to be no defense or hope for reconciliation. “its in their genes” etc.

    We don’t have to go too far or look too far back to see examples of this, even amongst “enlightened” Muslims. I often hear a Hadith of the Prophet, if not misquoted, than misinterpreted, to sound a lot like the example you cited. Loosely translated, it goes something like this : تخيرو لنطفكم فان العرق دساس”

    “Choose best for your offspring as the ‘vein'(as in ore), is want to be hidden”…”

    This is in reference as to how best to choose your mate (for your future children’s and posterity’s sake)

    It is a weak Hadith with a weak “sanad”, meaning chain of narrators and sources, as it comes from a single source ending with Aisha, the prophet’s last wife. Nevertheless, scholars agree it refers to the inheritable traits (known today as DNA).

    (Side bar: Sanad is a vast and interesting science. It is more exacting than the standards used today for chain of evidence in a murder trial! It is the way by which Hadiths, defined as: 1- anything the prophet said 2- anything he did or was seen to do 3-anything he witnessed being done and did not forbid- are authenticated.)

    A Muslim bases his practice on this and the Quran. There is not a third.

    As to the Quran there is not a doubt amongst ANY Muslim as to its authenticity, veracity or fidelity. “أنا نحن نزلنا الذكر و أنا له لحافظون” “Verily, it is we Who have sent down the word and we are indeed its preservers” as guaranteed by Allah in the Quran. Sura 15, verse 9

    Accordingly, Hadiths are graded as to their veracity and authenticity as they are purely hearsay and are therefore, only as good as the quality and quantity of those who carry them down the chain.

    Personally, I liken them to diamonds. All are useful and have value, even the weaker ones. Like the rough diamonds used for drilling, say, they are still diamonds, if not as precious. Or, so verified and authentic, they are binding law. These are like a flawless diamond in its cut color and clarity, with some being weightier than others(Carat).

    (Muslims are, by necessity, like lawyers. Everything must be evidenced supported and cross referenced before it is accepted as truth. )

    Back to our topic:

    Yet I’ve heard this Hadith quoted to bias against “blacks” or those with “black in them”. As well as to cast on a family’s or even a people’s morals claiming their “evil is well hidden”, misquoting the Prophet. Peace be upon him. They undermine the very aspects that make Islam beautiful and unique (as well as doing themselves an injustice).

    This, despite EVERYTHING in Islam to the contrary (which in scholarly circles is necessary when passing a law or a command, Hadiths must Not be contradictory to the letter of Quran or even the spirit of Islam, in interpretation or practice).

    I would be remiss not to respond to Ms. Biljana Plavsic ( or the odd misguided Muslim), who feels that people can be judged and graded by their “genes”, or heritage. God’s words say it best:-

    O ye who believe! Let not some men among you laugh at (denegrate) others: It may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): Nor let some women laugh at (denegrate) others: It may be that the (latter are better than the (former): Nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames: Ill-seeming is a name connoting wickedness, (to be used of one) after he has believed: And those who do not desist are (indeed) doing wrong. Sura 49 (the Chambers) verse 11.

    In the same Sura, Verse 13:

    O Mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things). Notice this verse addresses Muslims and Non Muslims as evidenced by its beginning: “O Mankind..”

    Incidentally, if you’re interested, Sura 49, “the chambers” (my translation. translated the “apartments” in some books) is one of the great chapters in the Quran, as it addresses behaviour and interaction between The Muslims and the Prophet, the Muslims and themselves and the Muslims and Non-Muslims, as well as Humanity as a whole. It is often referred to as the “Etiquette chapter” providing rules of engagement and conduct for various aspects of life in a few short verses.

    Most Muslims are very familiar with these verses, but these are a mere sampling of the many, many rules and laws that clearly affirm, in no uncertain terms, God’s intolerence for bigotry and racism.

    Unike other ideologies however, in Islam we are given practical day to day steps to actually achieve this seemingly elusive ideal.(but this is beyond the scope of this discussion)

    This is to the best of my humble understanding of these profound concepts…And God knows best.

    All this to say, I’m disapointed but not surprised.

  2. Ahmed Abualsamh says:

    Correction to my comment above: There is a typo to two words in the Arabic text of the first Quranic verse: anna should read innaa. ءانا in place of أنا. The Hamza should be below, not above the Alif in both places where the word appears. It may be a slight difference in appearance but dramatic in consequence.

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