Sunday, February 14, 2016

Reliving the nightmare

Something that non-Europeans don't really quite comprehend about European culture is the memory of the Holocaust. Outside of Europe, this is an intellectual abstraction, whereas here in Europe it is something that happened in our midst and reverberates through today's society. The tendency to blame Jews for multiculturalism to me appears to be a decisively American phenomenon, that happens to be capable of finding fertile ground among disenfranchised Europeans. The United States is a country with six million Jews, who happen to compose a significant section of their nation's upper class. Anti-semitism feels more self-evident to white Americans than it does here in Europe, where Jews have effectively become a ghost of the past. To Americans on the far-right it comes as a gut instinct, to Europeans on the far-right it comes as a dogma, part of the teachings of whatever disenfranchised group of angry white males they wish to associate themselves with.
It has to be noted that there is a difference in this matter, between Western Europe and Eastern Europe. In Eastern Europe, Jews and the native population largely lived through similar experiences in the war years. Poland had its intellectual elite liquidated, children kidnapped and starvation imposed upon the masses. In Western Europe, that is, France, Germany, Scandinavia, the British isles and the low countries, we had it relatively good. In exchange for our collaboration with the invading Germans, life here pretty much went on as it always had. Government officials in the Netherlands were instructed before the invasion to simply collaborate with the orders of any invading power, should such an invasion happen. It should thus come as little surprise that they did.

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