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I see no problems here: A skeptic ponders our journey into Terra Incognita

By Charlotte B. Cerminaro
web posted April 29, 2024

It would seem that we have entered a new era, a world stage zeitgeist meticulously engineered to extract disproportionate knee-jerk reactions in certain strategic areas, and carefully downplayed – or altogether avoided – human tragedy on a scale almost unthinkable to western minds. In scenes that are more than vaguely reminiscent of Wag the Dog, pro-Palestinian demonstrators are blockading centers of commerce, education and transportation in the largest U.S. metropolitan areas, assaulting innocent bystanders while decrying violence in Gaza. Meanwhile it seems that the violence perpetrated by Hamas is mostly forgotten: mass murder, rape, mutilation, torture and kidnapping; their hostages, many of whom are still missing and presumed dead, are scarcely mentioned.

Deplorable acts against humanity there, in Ukraine and elsewhere – are always unequivocal. However, there is widespread institutionalized violence and genocide on a much larger scale and some truly alarming geopolitical developments that are generally avoided by most activists and mainstream media. While none of these problems are simple or one-sided, perhaps it is because the most nightmarish scenarios are playing out every day in places where no one can take the "us-versus-them" attitude, an argument can easily be made that this very attitude is precisely what causes moral blindness - particularly the hypocritical acts of hatred that are now spreading like the most virulent disease.

A very apt metaphor, perhaps - for only a diseased mind could be convinced that violence perpetrated on one group or people is justifiable, whereas the same violence perpetrated on anyone else is abhorrent. And yet these ideas are increasingly commonplace and accepted among numerous and diverse peoples, nations, cultures and institutions, including (and especially) academia. I would be remiss without noting that such beliefs were once fervently held by many German educators and leaders, and spread throughout occupied Europe during WWII.

Only arrogance or ignorance could lead any citizen to a sense of safety or moral superiority within such arbitrary and prejudicial boundaries; without warning, many people find themselves on a growing list of 'deplorables' - for real or imagined behaviors, characteristics, beliefs, or - for nothing at all.

Observing the highly effective grooming tactics used by extremists, it is abundantly clear that the genesis of most "us-versus-them" thinking is through alignment with any insular and militantly homogenized group. The vast majority of modern Muslim nations have severe punishments (including the death penalty) for everything from religious conversion to homosexuality. For decades now, threatened and marginalized Arab minorities have fled to Israel for their very lives and basic civil rights.

Unbeknownst to many, a violent and inhuman revolution has been wracking the Sudanese nation for over a year now. It's a civil war, an overthrow of governmental forces and with it, the law. Civilians are caught in the middle of a bloody and interminable battle for power that's left an entire nation staggering under its brutality and imploding without leadership. Every war crime, every atrocity conceivable by monsters and men, has been perpetrated on innocent people - men, women and children. Millions dead; tens of millions displaced.

The situation is fueled by hypocrisy more than hatred. As a problem devoid of racism or nationalism, it's merely their own people killing each other. Without a racial scapegoat (eg, white Israelis) stealing land and taking innocent lives, political activists have little interest in such injustice. Despite the U.S. sending billions of dollars to Sudan, there's scant media attention and even less outrage. It doesn't fit into the "us-versus-them" paradigm. There is no single group on which to cast all blame and hatred, and for blind hypocrisy this is the only moral compass.

The facts are often unpopular when an irrational ideology is fighting for dominance. Time and again we have witnessed the infowars. Conflicting opinion and information alone is not a bad thing; it's actually a virtue, a sign of freedom, to disagree and pursue a better understanding of the issues. The only real danger is when opposing views are silenced and dissenters are threatened, demonized, or otherwise forced to comply. This is known as propaganda: Let there be no uncertainty on this point, it is the first red flag of ideological and existential danger. The marketplace of ideas should be free to everyone and anyone can voice their opinions - without violence, threat or coercion.

Any idea that requires such force, is an idea that has no factual reasoning behind it. Beware these forces, as they are not offering enlightenment or answers; they are seeking control by superstition, hatred and fear. Searching out the facts, unpopular as they may be, is the only guardian against blind hypocrisy and violent prejudice. These are powerful unseen principalities, holding individuals in a self-righteous, hypnotically forceful embrace and often cleverly disguised as a humanistic "cause". There is always one clear giveaway, though, hiding in plain sight: dehumanization. Treading where mere mortals dare not venture, weighting the balances of life and robbing it of all that is precious, this is our terra incognita. ESR

Charlotte B. Cerminaro is a Juilliard-trained classical musician  and recording artist. In her free time she enjoys writing and regularly  contributes to Enter Stage Right and she attained a Bachelor's Degree in Molecular Biology.

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