That old lie: only blood matters

by snowden1984

The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, as part of an official visit to the Emirates, held a speech in Dubai a few days ago. Multiple video recordings abound, and the crowd of thousands, made up mostly of expatriate Indians, chanted the great leader’s name: ‘Modi’, ‘Modi’, ‘Modi’. He spoke as statesmen do, thanked his hosts and his audience, spoke of greatness achieved, and success in the offing. And he said one more thing, paraphrased and translated [1],

‘I do not look at the color of passports, I look at the blood, for our blood is the same’.

From ‘you are one of us because of your blood’ to ‘you are not one of us because of your blood’ is a step almost imperceptible, and taken all-too-lightly.

‘Staatsbürger kann nur sein, wer Volksgenosse ist. Volksgenosse kann nur sein, wer deutschen Blutes ist’ (Only those with German blood can be German citizens) was one of the paroles of the Nazis, and one carried through quite determinedly, from the 25-point-program of 1920, to the demeaning laws of 1935, to the murderous trains of 1942.

The news media in August 2015 did not pick up on the cricket stadium speech in Dubai — and, given the kind of intense scrutiny heads of governments in vibrant democracies are subject to, the only plausible explanation is that they do not consider it ‘newsworthy’. For them, the right honorable Prime Minister, when he uttered those words, said nothing new, nothing alarming. The use of racial ideas to sway people has apparently become banal.

Samuel Huntingdon suggested in 1996 that, ‘To the Chinese government, people of Chinese descent, even if citizens of another country, are members of the Chinese community and hence in some measure subject to the authority of the Chinese government. Chinese identity comes to be defined in racial terms’.

It seems to be an emerging pattern, in India, China, much of emerging European politics, the middle-east, the US — many appear to favor the dismantling of freedoms, the raising of border controls, a decrease in tolerance, and the promotion of narrow racial, religious and national interests.

If we stay silent, if we do not reject these thoughts now, they will become laws tomorrow, as has happened in the past, and we know that such societies are doomed, and their death throes are terrible. Much worse than living according to their laws — we might become them tomorrow: intolerant, quick to punish, insisting on uniformity, derisive of those who love freedom.

[1] A transcript is not easily available, and to ferret out the exact words from the skillful declamation is not commiserate; at least one news-source confirms the general sense: