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Blame Local Hatred, Not Sykes-Picot

Reader comment on item: The "Shocking Document" that Shaped the Middle East Turns 100

Submitted by Dave (United States), May 9, 2016 at 14:02

The European powers may have jigsawed the region, but the local culture is responsible for the conspiracy theories and the sectarian turmoil.
Islam tends to encourage hatred of Infidels. This lets the faithful play the victim, to blame their troubles on the demonized group; hatred serves as a convenient distraction from the misdeeds of the ruling class and allows people to avoid honest self-criticism. In Europe, the hated Jews were often scapegoats, blamed for everything from poisoning the wells to the Black Death. The Nazis, seeing themselves as victims, blamed Jews for Germany's defeat in WWI.

This allowed people to view mass murder as a form of justice; they imagined that Jewish bankers were conspiring against them. Muslims are famous for their lack of self-criticism, their scapegoating of Jews and Israel, and their often gleeful response to terrorist attacks, excused as a form of just retribution. Conspiracy theories are a symptom of this pathology, providing a mythology populated by powerful, scheming villains. Sub-Saharan Africa was carved up by the Europeans as well, but the non-Muslim population there is not known for conspiracy mongering.

The culture of hatred is also responsible for the sectarian violence. The European powers did not force the locals to kill each other; European rule often protected minorities and prevented inter-ethnic strife. Take away the foreign rulers and the local despots and you have a bunch of unsupervised louts who lack the social skills of civilized people.

They should heed Pogo: "I have seen the enemy, and it is us."

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