Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Foundations Of The Clash Of Cultures

From Cranach: Collectivists vs. Individualists
Everytime they had a chance, depending on the essay assignment, they would write about wanting to kill Jews. They even brought up all of the old Nazi-era anti-semitic slanders. (Maybe that was another reason they wanted to go to a German-heritage Lutheran school!) I admonished them, reasoned with them, called on their own ethical principles, witnessed to them but I could not get these nice, affable, friendly young men to tone down their murderous venom. But in a conversation with one of them, I learned a key insight. "To kill a Jew," he said, "is our way of striking against Israel. It doesn't matter if the Jew is an American or if he has nothing to do with Israel. Jews are all connected with each other, so to strike one is to strke them all."

In other words, this young man and the culture he comes from is a collectivist. They do not see individuals, as such. A Danish aid worker in Iraq is like a cell in the body of Denmark, so that killing him does strike at the other cells that drew those cartoons. They do not see just individual guilt but corporate guilt. And, of course, Americans and Europeans have joined the Jews as legitimate corporate targets of Muslim wrath.