Thursday, September 2, 2010

The CHUTZPAH of Raw Hatred

Today's news forced me to reconsider the question of whether or not wit figures significantly in determining an act of chutzpah. It reminded me that there are definitely times when chutzpah is fundamentally about the demonstration of some form of excess, particularly in some innovative manner. The news I have in mind is a story reported this morning on Al Jazeera English, and the reason why wit does not enter into the equation is that the story is basically one about the politics of hate-based discrimination.

Here is the account as Al Jazeera compiled it from their wire sources:

A far-right party in Austria has sparked outrage by launching an online video game which allows players to shoot down minarets and muezzins calling for prayer.

The game, called "Moschee Baba", or "Bye Bye Mosque", gives players 60 seconds to collect points by placing a target over cartoon mosques, minarets and Muslims and click a "Stop" sign.

It is being used by the Freedom Party (FPOe), which has a link to the game on its website, to encourage voters to elect Gerhard Kurzmann, the party's candidate in the picturesque region of Styria.

"Game Over. Styria is now full of minarets and mosques!" it says at the end of a session, before inviting players to vote for Kurzmann on September 26, when local elections are being held.

The website then invites viewers to take part in a survey which asks them whether the construction of minarets and mosques should be banned in Austria, and whether Muslims should sign a declaration in which they accept that the law takes precedence over the Quran.

The Al Jazeera page includes a screen shot from this game. I suppose that there will be any number of ideologues who will cheer this effort by saying that it is about time someone got even with Hamas for Tomorrow's Pioneers and Farfur, but that would just affirm Ghandi's precept that an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. This is nothing more than raw hatred cultivated as a means of winning votes. Europeans know about that strategy all too well, but that does not lessen the risk that Austria will succumb to it. Meanwhile, the FPOe has earned itself a Chutzpah of the Week award whose connotation is about as negative as one can imagine.

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