A fascinating Youtube clip with Dutch kids of Turkish descent about Jews, Palestine, and Hitler, and not for the obvious reasons per se. What makes this clip particularly interesting are not the opinions themselves (“Hitler should have killed all the Jews,” “Hitler had his reasons,” “millions of Jews were killed by Hitler and the Jews kill millions [sic] of Palestinians,” and so on), or the obvious specious link between this kind of anti-Semitism and Islam or between this kind of anti-Semitism and Israel/Palestine. This is run of the mill doggerel about which there is nothing original. It is what it is and not much else.
More interesting is the affect that carries the conversation, the critical pushback by the interviewer, who is horrified by these kids, and the frank and cool exchange, from their part and point of view, of something narrow, unpleasant, dangerous, and frightening. The critical pushback actually makes the anti-Semitism worse, more deeply embedded. There’s not even a lot of nervous laughter. You can see the kids listening, mulling, responding, thinking, thinking very hard, and retrenching deeply held assumptions and prejudices. I’m not even sure these kids are angry; and religion, Islam, and religious passions have nothing to do with it. Were it that simple. It’s that heartless, it’s that cold and calculating, it’s that “rational.”
Best not to over-moralize over much or to try to come to some kind of didactic political conclusion. I’m trying to understand what this means, that online you can see something so hateful at such an intimate scale, that something so hateful and intimate presents itself to hand in the language of new media. It underscores, at a small scale, Arendt’s famous point about evil and banality.
I absolutely finally understood, quite deeply, why Arendt decided that the evil she saw in Eichmann was “banal.” I kept thinking about that the whole time I watched this. Your point about the way “critical pushback” just seems to embed the hatred more deeply rings true. Nazism too was like this.
Ingrid, I didn’t add your name to the post to preserve your privacy. Can I mention that I got it from you?? By name or initial? Thanks.
This is very disturbing. How indifferent and normal this conversation is for them. It’s frightening how numb they are.