THE SMOKING CORNER: THE CONSTANTS OF THE PATH – Journal


The word “scapegoat” is derived from the book of Leviticus which is the third book of the Torah and the Old Testament. In one of his stories, all of Israel’s sins are put on the head of a goat, which is then cast out, even though the goat is not guilty of any sin.

The scapegoat is particularly disconcerting when used by a large community against a smaller one, especially for political or ideological purposes. The scapegoat community is often weaker and therefore less able to defend itself. In fact, this is one of the reasons it is used as a scapegoat.

After the humiliation of defeat in World War I, large numbers of Germans began to accuse the Jewish citizens of Germany of being behind the loss of Germany. Less than a decade after the war, this sentiment was institutionalized by the Nazis. They offered the Germans confused, angry and disoriented scapegoats to express their frustrations. Topping the list of scapegoats were the Jews, followed by Communists, Liberals, Gypsies, the mentally ill and the disabled.

Most Germans saw themselves as good hard-working people who had no part to play in the downfall of their country. Yet during the Nazi regime, when the German state called a minority community wicked, millions of good and hardworking Germans had no qualms about accepting that it was indeed the Jews who were plotting the downfall of Germany.

The same happened to the Ahmadiyya community in Pakistan after the country lost its eastern wing in 1971. The humiliation of defeat at the hands of Bengali nationalists backed by sworn enemy forces of India, saw the scapegoat for the small Ahmadiyya community – first by Islamist parties, then by government and an elected parliament, and finally by society as a whole. The Ahmadiyya have been ousted from the fold of Islam.

Read | The eviction in 1974 of the “heretics”: what really happened?

The motivations and methodology of minority scapegoat communities have remained roughly the same throughout history. Privileged sections of society use it as a “safety valve” when the pursuit of their own power is threatened by social conflict.

Indeed, decades of theological tensions between the Ahmadiyya and more dominant Islamic sects contributed to the turmoil that led to the ousting of the Ahmadiyya. However, in a 2018 essay The Clarion Call (FWU Journal of Social Sciences, summer 2018), Z. Ahmad writes that when the situation in East Pakistan deteriorated dramatically in 1969, a leader of Jamiat Ulema-i-Pakistan, Shah Ahmad Noorani, told General Yahya Khan that the community created them Ahmadiyya.

In this way, the dominant establishment in West Pakistan was absolved of any discriminatory attitude towards the Bengalis. The Ahmadiyya have been identified as working with “anti-Pakistani” forces to dismantle the country. But for what purpose? This question has been conveniently ignored.

In The oldest trick in the book, Australian historian Ben Debney writes that the scapegoat is largely a ploy of the privileged / opulent segments. They use it as a “safety valve” when the maintenance of their power is threatened by social conflicts. A scapegoat is identified, systematically demonized, and the anger and frustrations of society are diverted from the affluent segments to the scapegoat.

According to Debney, in essence, the narrative used to achieve this did not deviate much from that used in medieval Europe, when the energies of troubled societies were diverted to “witches,” who apparently undermined the morals of good people and healthy. .

These “witches” were mostly women who did not fully conform to the social and political paradigms created by the clergy and other instruments of authority. According to British historian Norman Cohen, in his book The inner demons of Europe, the account in this regard was, “There existed, somewhere in the midst of big society, another society, small and underground, which not only threatened the existence of big society, but was also addicted to practices that were quite abominable.

If in pre-modern times these “underground societies” were reported as tools of nonconforming women (witches), then in modern times power through these evil societies has supposedly been exercised by sinister ethnic and religious minorities who must be identified and ousted. Of course, in most cases, the evils for which they are singled out and blamed are largely the fault of those who ousted them.

The opulent segments, to safeguard their positions, trigger old ethnic and religious prejudices. Once these rise to the surface, the opulent segments begin to shape them according to their needs and claim that they are one with the masses.

According to Debney, a “moral disengagement mechanism” has been developed to justify the most discriminatory and violent acts of scapegoating. This includes justifications such as shifting responsibility (“I was just following orders”), defusing responsibility (“everyone does it”), misrepresenting harmful consequences as beneficial to the victim. and the dehumanization of the victim.

Thus, the scapegoats emerge from the moral questions that he often raises. They claim they are the victims and not the scapegoat.

The Germans saw themselves as the unfortunate victims of the Jewish conspiracies. Pakistanis still view the Ahmadiyya as a tiny but powerful minority who seek to destroy the incorruptible spiritual disposition of every Pakistani Muslim. The right wing in Europe sees the once pristine and dominant way of life of their region being usurped and polluted by immigrants and refugees of backward races and religions. Many Hindus in India are now ready to avenge the “humiliation” suffered by their ancestors by Muslim marauders centuries ago. They do this by persecuting and scapegoating the Indian Muslims of this century.

When visible powerful cliques cannot control the growing social anger directed at their political, economic and religious monopolies, they point the finger at a minority community and weave an evil narrative that throws all the blame for all that is wrong in society. at the feet of the community.

In this way, the clique also begins to impersonate a victim. To reaffirm his influence with the masses, he explains himself as a victim (just like them) but capable of defeating the demonized community. The company follows soon.

Posted in Dawn, EOS, September 19, 2021


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