Thursday, January 29, 2015

Nazis and ISIS

The other day marked the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Approximately 1.1 million people died in the camp, which still stands as the most infamous monument of the Nazi regime's horrific, yet carefully planned, attempt to cleanse Europe of Jews, homosexuals, gypsies, the disabled, and others whose mere existence was viewed as unacceptable.

Polish-English sociologist Zygmunt Bauman has written a thorough analysis of how the Holocaust was made possible. In Modernity and the Holocaust he offers the explanation that - in short - it was not despite of modernity that this mass murder happened, but that modernity itself provided the framework within which a high degree of specialization, division of labor, and rational bureaucratization made it possible to kill so many people and have a relative few admit to their complicity.

Today, our societies are as technologically sophisticated as ever. This, as history so depressingly proves, is , however, no antidote against brutal mass murder on a huge scale. Technology is a double-edged sword. As Goebbels - the Nazi's genius in charge of propaganda - used the technology of the day to demonize Jews and other types of 'others', so technology today is used by The Islamic State to spread the propaganda of their mass killings - whose barbarism easily matches that of the Nazis - to draw wannabe jihadists to Iraq and Syria to fight for IS' pervertedly warped interpretation of Islam. 

IS' 'others' are Shias, Christians, Yazidis, and others who do not - faced with the barrel of a gun or the blade of a knife - immediately yield to IS' demands of complete submission. This extreme intolerance of other world views matches that of the Nazis - it is merely statistics that tells them apart. 


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