As prejudice and fear make objective facts irrelevant, how can we still manage our differences?
When has truth ever mattered where people’s prejudices were involved and their sense of security was on the line? Fear and prejudice trump all other considerations, and since they are perennial traits of our common humanity, the challenge is never about finding ways to eradicate them but to cope with their too logical consequence, namely: the irrelevance of truth, of facts which, no matter how objective they happen to be, often fail to alter our perceptions of unfolding events. Indeed, we are condemned forever to see and understand things differently. This is our curse and, on occasions, it may also be a blessing. But no matter how we view or choose to deal with it, this is always our destiny.
Many people are rushing to remind us these days of the Soviet contributions to the Allied victory in WWII. Most of these people of course conveniently forget to mention that Stalin had signed a pact Hitler that allowed them to divide Poland between them, and that he turned against Germany only after Hitler broke the pact and invaded Russia. The same experts also forget to mention that Stalin, and long before the German invasion, had already killed more Soviet citizens than Hitler’s forces would later do. Indeed, ever since the Bolshevik Revolution, Russia’s “victories” have always come at the expense of her peoples’ basic freedoms and their hopes for a dignified existence.
It’s not unusual for the Kurds living under Iranian rule to riot in protest of one abuse or another. They are indeed living under a de facto occupation. This is the only reasonable impression that one gets when considering how Kurdish-majority provinces are administered. Whether the current riots in Mahabad will mushroom into a larger movement remains as an open question for now.
In the case of Charlie Hebdo, the facts were clear: Charlie was irreverent in its treatment of all that is allegedly holy. If some of its critics thought that its editors and cartoonists were motivated by hate and that they have singled out Islam, a close examination of Charlie’s coverage over the years unequivocally fails to bear out this claim.