By Mounir Beniche
By Mounir Beniche
“Violence is fomented by the imposition of singular and belligerent identities on gullible people, championed by proficient artisans of terror.” –Amartya Sen
The confluence of Identity and violence is one of the thorny issues that are baffling the world and generating debates and plenty of studies and researchable questions to decode their causes and target possible solutions. The central question that is raised by many researchers is why political and religious figures boost violence through identity to decompose and Balkanize contemporary societies. They dig into isolated events in history to fuel tension and raise awareness about fake facts to justify their pre-arranged agendas.
Such manipulation in the name of identity has lead to the split of many societies, mass violence, acts of terrorism and genocides. The demonization of the Other in their hate-based discourses is meant to justify all kinds of violent practices and divide the world into Manichean opposition while reviving the archival proverb that “hell is other people” that illustrates the impossible coexistence of humans.
Recruiting identity into such a notorious paradigm paves the way for the emergence of a barbaric identity that catalyses intolerance and the eradication of the Other. This is clearly depicted through the promotion of ideological texts that pretend the superiority of a particular identity over others or the displaying of the Other as an eternal enemy that doesn’t deserve to live.
In his book “In the Name of Identity: Violence and the Need to Belong,” Amine Maalouf raised a thesis question framing his work regarding why “so many people commit crimes nowadays in the name of religious, ethnic, national or some other identity.” Such blind identity has become a monster that is devouring different identities not sharing the same background. There is no room for pluralism or multiculturalism; there is only the dominant identity adopting a single allegiance.
Terror and daily killing all over the globe is the output of the murderous identity that approaches truth from a lopsided view and justifies its reality even with the sacred. In this regard, it tames and recruits even religious texts to justify bloody acts and the victimization of innocents. It is as Mark Juergensmeyer put it in his book “Terror in the Mind of God,” “it is not so much that religion has become politicized, but that politics has become religionized.”
Religionized politics has been badly manipulated by some political and religious figures when they lose popularity or legitimacy and resort to spiritual rhetoric to dupe the masses. Playing the card of holiness has become a cunning move for many “political leaders” — appealing to emotions to fulfill their highly planned agendas. Hence, killing people in cold blood is urged and justified, and it has even become a religious ritual that targets the pleasing of God and the path to paradise.
Boxing people into a singular identity is what the enemies of open society aim for, as stated by Karl Popper, to promote a new tribalism which revolts against reason, science and real democracy. They are against the open society that displays the view and the opposing view with logical arguments to solve political and social problems. They are imprisoned in their ideological thoughts that cripple rational thinking and tolerance. They fear pluralism and multiculturalism because these ideas accept the Other regardless of their class, race, gender or faith, meaning that the public sphere is a setting of coexistence, acceptance and recognition.
In his book “The Myth of the Framework,” Karl Popper stated that “One of the components of modern irrationalism is relativism (the doctrine that truth is relative to our intellectual background, which is supposed to determine somehow the framework within which we are able to think: that truth may change from one framework to another), and, in particular, the doctrine of the impossibility of mutual understanding between different cultures, generations, or historical periods.” Hence, some frameworks have narrow structures that don’t allow even logical discussions or the questioning of the unquestioned. They stick to their boxed thought that generates intolerance, and this is what happened to Popper with the Nazi who said “I don’t talk; I shoot!”
Organized violence is the output of locking people into a particular kind of being. A closed identity which believes that its belongings and allegiances are more important than a common humanity. Such a frame of thought should be targeted and deconstructed by a counter-discourse of tolerance, coexistence, peace and togetherness.
A vigorous defense of the human race should be raised against the systematic destruction of nations that carefully prepares the ground for tensions and free-floating terror. The colors of violence cannot flourish without poisoning people with the hate that is generated through savage texts and discourses that exacerbate killing in the name of identity. Demonizing the Other without logical and rational thinking urges its victimization as a potential enemy that should be eradicated by hook or by crook. The bloody identity is the prey of indoctrination and notorious ideologies that seek all immoral paths to justify their criminal deeds and the slaughtering of difference and humanity.
Why does color difference harm us? Why does shape difference harm us?! Why does faith difference harm us? Why does gender difference harm us?! Why does thought difference harm us? Why do we kill all differences in us? Why do we fear difference? Why do we not celebrate difference and deepen its culture as a daily ritual? Why do we not belong to our shared common humanity and sing the melody of tolerance, world peace, collaboration and coexistence?
Why do we remain in the prison of the blind identity and operate as docile servants in the hands of the enemies of the plural society that do not cherish the cultural mosaic? Why are we not the voice of the victims of xenophobia and all kinds of discrimination? Such acts need wise and honest elites to raise awareness about the danger of the barbaric identity that speaks only one single language: the language of violence and blood.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent any institution or entity.
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