‘People tend to be frightened of what they don’t understand’
It’s a simple quote, but a quote which I think resonates perfectly with the times we find ourselves living in at the moment. It’s also a quote I picked up watching the ‘Big fat Gypsy Wedding’…for all those who don’t know what that is…. it’s a show on channel 4 that highlights some aspects of the customs and traditions of gypsies.
But the reason why I speak about it is because I feel partially ashamed. But before I get into that I need to back-track a bit. Just before I watched the final programme of ‘Big fat Gypsy wedding’ I watched a programme about Geert Wilder on BBC’s this world programme …there is of course no nice way of explaining who this detestable guy is, and it’s also unfortunate that anyone has to hear of his name. He is a prominent Dutch MP in Holland who spews hate-filled, factually inaccurate and ignorant comments directed strictly against the faith of Islam and it’s followers …he is also a card- carrying hard-line ardent Christian-Zionist…It’s something I believe which partially explains a lot of about where his views come from. The reason why he has become so prominent is because his party unfortunately currently holds 12% of the parliamentary seats in Holland.
But that fact that he exists and has some public backing shouldn’t be a complete surprise. It is, if anything, an expected occurrence especially if you consulate with the history books. This is because whenever there seems to be economic turmoil or hardships the minorities/outsiders/immigrants are always targeted and blamed for the faults of an inherently unequal system….I wonder if the dear old bankers contemplate this when they moan about banker bashing…It’s always an indirect consequence of economic hardship that people use and find scapegoats to blame all the countries woes and troubles on…and with the rise of Extremist far-right groups across Europe, unfortunately the scapegoat this time around is Muslims and Islam.
It’s saddening to see inside these far right groups, so called people of faith lamenting another faith-group vehemently with hate…it’s especially saddening to see that a select few happen to be Jewish. This is because it wasn’t so long ago that they were themselves on the unfortunate receiving end of this kind of incoherent hate… albeit of a much worse kind. But it seems that history is intent on repeating itself one way or another, be it under a different guise or form. And how does this occur? Simply put because of ignorance. As it is only ignorance unfortunately that seems to best survive and breed on simple fear and misinformation… As Mark Twain once put it, A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.
So to bring this article full circle, why do I feel bad after watching the final episode of the big fat gypsy wedding?
It’s because I realised, watching the last episode which dealt with the discrimination that gypsies faced, that I had fallen privy to the same mistake scores of people fall into everyday…that is to base my judgement of people whom I’ve never met and whom I know nothing about on this one barely truly encompassing programme. I had done what many people had unfortunately done, treated this show and its participants as a joke and the people in it as uncultured or backward….but whom am I to judge and discriminate? How can anyone claim to be a target of hate when they also harbour ill will to others? It’s not to say that you have to agree with everything they do or say, but to simply deal with some disagreements by slapping a label on the people you disagree with and turning your nose up at them is in itself inherently reductionist and wrong.
Overall, I think none of the problems that we face in this world can simply be blamed willy-nilly on a marginalised group of people, the debate and problems we face are complex for a reason… So extremists should not insult our intelligence by suggesting otherwise. So for all those people who ask why they should bother with simply keeping in touch with what’s going on in the wider world…remembers this simple fact…by being ignorant, you are inadvertently building yourself up to be a perpetrator of prejudice and discrimination.
Till Next Time,
‘The Greatest Ignorance is to reject something you know nothing about’ - Anonymous