ON Jan 27, the world will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau by the Red Army of the Soviet Union. But the beastly behaviour of men has not left us. Because many among us have not learnt anything from this horrible human tragedy.
Witness how Israel treats Palestinians and other Arabs. Witness, too, how the United States arms Israel to maim and murder with impunity.
Russia isn’t blameless either. Its planes and bombs are helping Syrian forces kill civilians. This from the country that liberated Auschwitz.
Neither has Europe nor the US taught itself anything: they continue to create mini Auschwitzs everywhere. Sadly, Asia, too, has its Hitlers-in-making.
Come Jan 27, we hope the world will not only remember anti-semitism, but also other forms of racism. It is true the majority of the 1.1 million who died at the cruel hands of the Nazis were Jews. But so did others: the Roma, Poles, Russians and others.
Their extermination must be remembered too. They were forgotten when Auschwitz was liberated in 1945. They have been forgotten in subsequent anniversaries. Let’s hope they will not be forgotten next week.
Those who refuse to learn from the tragedy of Auschwitz are bound to cause it to happen again. Almost everywhere around the globe one dominant race seems to be saying that they are God’s gift to mankind.
Europe is fast becoming a poisonous pit of dehumanising prejudice. The Counter Extremism Project (CEP) identifies the far-right political parties, neo-Nazi movements and apolitical protest groups as sources of racism. Some groups, the CEP says, openly espouse violent white supremacy, while others have propagated their radical stances under the guise of populism.
The US is similarly lit with the fire of hatred for everything non-white.
Anger and hatred for the other is not just a Western disease. Asia has caught the virus too. Or was it innate? When the heart is tainted — be it Western or otherwise — what is latent becomes manifest.
Take India. In this ancient land, “othering” has been developed into such a fine art that there are vigilante groups that go around the country telling one citizen from the other by the way they dress. And by the food they eat.
Closer to home in Myanmar, what is happening is even more terrifying. There the Rohingya as a race does not exist. Like the unnamed protagonist of Ralph Ellison’s novel, The Invisible Man, the Rohingya are invisible. They are only visible when they are spotted by the crosshairs of the Myanmar gun.
Of late, China too has come under fire from Europe, Turkey and the US for arbitrarily detaining one million of the Turkic-speaking Uighur Muslims in detention camps. China calls the detention camps reeducation centres. Admission of sorts?
We are living in a very angry world. One skin colour against another skin colour. One religion against another religion. One world view against another world view. Any difference will do, as long as it is a difference that makes “othering” possible. Welcome to the you-are-with-us-or-you-are-against-us world. Blame it on the big powers. They are still crazy after all these years.