JANUARY 20 2010 15:54h
The term “hate speech” is a fairly recent invention, because all the children of the world born before 1980 would be persecuted as racists.
The term “hate speech” is a fairly recent invention, because otherwise, all the children of the world born prior to, say, 1980, would be pilloried and persecuted as racists, xenophobes, bigots, and anti-Christs.
Remember the Polish jokes (or Bosnian, or Italian, or blonde, depending on one’s country, culture, and traditions)? How many Poles does it take to screw on a light bulb? Two, one to hold the bulb and the other to turn the ladder he’s standing on. Remember the names the fat girl in grade school used to be called? Blubberbutt, jelly roll, Piggly Wiggly? Or the kid who flunked every test at least twice, the doofus, the “dull bulb”, who was “several sandwiches short of a picnic”?
If you were to explain these cruel childhood insults, you might say you were simply stating the obvious: she’s overweight and he’s no Albert Einstein. Nowadays, it is unacceptable to state the obvious, because in today’s world of politically correct multi-culturalism, some group’s feelings will always be hurt.
A recent example was the public pilloring of highly respected U.S. Senator, Harry Reid, whose opinions about Barack Obama’s election chances, taken from a private conversation in 2008, have just been released. Having in mind the fact that racism in the United States is still a major election factor, he said he thought the American public was ready to embrace an African-American candidate, especially once such as Obama, who was “light-skinned” (factual) and did not speak with a “Negro accent” (also factual, at least in public).
Commentators accused him of “insulting, subtle, and patronizing racism” and others called him a “white supremacist”. But, as black columnist Boyd Watkins wrote, “the truth is that for the past 400 years, light-skinned blacks have been preferable to darker skinned African Americans in almost every walk of life, from beauty to employment to politics.” It seems it is still a long road to any kind of “post-racial” America.
However, it is not simply stating the obvious when an entire group is labeled inferior in some way based on race, religion, color, or place of birth. This is properly designated hate speech that must be condemned and sanctioned. It is shocking, though, to learn who, throughout the years, has been guilty of such offenses.
Consider the comments of Nobel Peace Prize winner, Yasir Arafat: “We plan to eliminate the state of Israel and establish a purely Palestinian state. We will make life unbearable for Jews by psychological warfare and population explosion. We Palestinians will take over everything, including all of Jerusalem.” Or this by another Nobel Peace Prize winner and former Israeli Prime Minister Menachim Begin: „The Palestinians are beasts walking on two legs." (Knesset speech, quoted in Amnon Kapeliouk, "Begin and the Beasts". New Statesman, 25 June 1982.)
Do we see any similarities in the recent elections? The vitriol produced in the media against individuals born in Hercegovina - one a second round Presidential candidate - as well as the hundreds of thousands who voted for him? “Apes”, “zombies”, “primitives” with no education or brains? One even wrote “take the Hercegovinians and return the Serbs!
It’s not surprising that the media as well as the numerous non-profit organizations expected to combat this type of defamation remained silent. After all, they had already failed to call the (soon to be former) President of the country, Stipe Mesic, to account for similarly shameful comments made during his mandate; e.g., that lazy Hercegovians shouldn’t receive financial assistance from Croatia; they ought to get to work and “catch their own fish”; that they should seek protection of their rights in Sarajevo, not in Zagreb, as though they were of no concern whatsoever to Croatia.
The Croatian penal code, which prohibits and punishes "whoever, based on racial, religious, language, political or any other belief, wealth, birth, education, social status or other properties, gender, skin color, nationality or ethnicity violates basic human rights and freedoms recognized from international community" operates apparently only in theory.
It’s ironic though, because like it or not, Begin, Mesic, and an entire host of others forget in their hateful tirades that they are attacking their own. The Jews as well as Arabs are both Semites, members of any of the diverse ancient and modern Semitic-speaking peoples originating in southwestern Asia, including Akkadians, Canaanites, Phoenicians, Hebrews, Arabs, and Ethiopian Semites.
And at the same time, are not Hercegovinians also Croatians, a part of the extended family? And doesn’t the entire organism suffer if an arm or a leg is disabled? What do we gain, after all, if we cut off our noses to spite our face? An uglier face, certainly, one scarred by arrogance, condescension , and self-hatred, and only a fool would commit such a destructive act, be he a Nobel “Peace” Prize Winner or a soon to be former President, Stipe Mesic.
As the late Beatle John Lennon sang: “I am he as you are me and we are all together.” It’s something to keep in mind.