I was planning to write a post about a Swedish politician being included in the annual Simon Wiesenthal anti-semitism list, but the senseless massacre in Paris kind of stole the scene today.
While I don’t have any personal ties to the families of the victims, it fills me with great sorrow to read about the barbaric slaughter. Not just because of the loss of life, but because of the impact it will have on European politics.
To say that the political debate has taken a turn for the harsher lately is an understatement. People don’t merely disagree with each other; people all-out, seethingly hate “the others”. The evil ones. The subhumans. The soulless orcs. One Swedish newspaper even went so far as to reduce political opponents to cockroaches to be exterminated in an image so close to the Nazi anti-Jew propaganda of the 1930s that it sends a chill down the spine. Oh, and they mean to be the good guys; Åkesson is the fascist, not them.
And that was BEFORE this act of terrorism, striking into the very heart of European civilization. More than that; it’s an assault on freedom itself. Freedom to speak wihout fear, freedom to reject other peoples attempts at limiting your speech, and perhaps most of all, freedom from religious influence in any aspect of life, as is our right in a secular society.
The editorials and politicians are of course all paying lip service and wringing their hands now. But once they’ve uttered the word “condemn” and “condoleances” a few dozen times each, what then? The smart money says, not much. But the clash between those trying to reduce muslim immigration and those who believe they’re fighting against the forces of evil will take on a whole new fervor. Both sides get a greater sense of urgency, which cranks up the hostility and viciousness even further.
More polarization was the LAST thing we needed now, but that’s exactly what is coming. Skimming the Twitter feeds, there’s already people on the left accusing the conservatives for celebrating the massacre (!) because it’ll swing public opinion against increased muslim immigration. And the worst of it is, I’m sure a few have gone so far into the political hardening that they actually do. Others on the left employ the classic position of attack being the best defense, already playing the islamophobia card and driving at it being the satirists bringing it onto themselves. (Swedish state radio: “It was not innocent people who were attacked.”)
The bodies have barely gone cold, and both sides are rallying their positions to turn the tragedy into political points. None have a shred of humanity or decency left. It’s all about providing ammunition against the others. The evil ones. The monsters.
People actually operate on this level now, which would have been completely inconceivable just 20 years ago. And it’s sickening.
Sweden used to be the most peaceful, homogenous, consensus-based society on earth. Now it is burning with political conflict, and the Paris massacre just dumped a big, fat bucket of gasoline on that fire.
I mourn the death of the victims, and the hope of sensible political debate, in equal measures.