Galliano and Anti-Semitism
In vino veritas. And so it would seem for John Galliano, or was it? His drunken comments were so ludicrous, such a crass and egregious abomination, that it defies belief that anyone outside the camps of the most extreme, ridiculous, right wing political parties could contemplate such words and thoughts.
Far more likely is that this is a man in whom drink flicks a switch. One moment an apparently perfectly decent fellow is enjoying a fairly liberal imbibing of the demon drink, and the next he turns. In just one glug in the succession of glugs, he hits the point of no return and it all goes pear-shaped – legs sway, words slur; but, more importantly, character slips into the hidden recesses of his normally presented self, and aggression rears up. The eyes tell the story as they waver, blur and dull indicating back stage disconnects within the brain, most notably moral judgment disappears and inhibition vanishes.
On balance, it may be fairly implausible – but possible – that Galliano believes the words that left his mouth. After all, he is a Gibraltarian where Jews, Christians, and Muslims live in harmony side-by-side in the streets, if not often at each other’s dinner tables. If indeed alcohol had revealed his darkest inner self, it is more likely that his aggressive alter ego – and clearly Galliano is an aggressive drunk, not a docile one - sought out the most offensive and vile insults he could imagine in order to assault his interlocutor onto whom he was, by then, intent on inflicting maximum hurt. The girl in question did rather well to stay cool and, further, to decline to benefit from the immediate exposure of his absurd bigotry to the media. Given Galliano’s intention to counter attack his current accusers, she was right to expose it now.
If you can’t trust yourself to retain some measure of civility, some residual respect for others and, most tellingly, for yourself, then do whatever needs to be done to ensure that you don’t drink to the point the switch flicks.
Dare I walk down another path in this matter? Once again some literati are being slated for criticizing Israel’s behaviour towards her Arab neighbours. One reason to understand such opprobrium (apart from the treatment Israel metes out to the dispossessed Palestinians which is not proportional to the hurt the Palestinians inflict on Israel) is that a very large number of Zionist sympathizers conflate criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism. This is a censorship that should be resisted very aggressively and, I suspect, that is why some are daring to criticize Israel’s excesses.
I defer to no man in my respect for the Jewish culture. They are an extraordinarily talented, spiritual, and intelligent people who, if they did not insist themselves to be God’s chosen people, would almost certainly be unanimously perceived as such, de facto, by dint of worldly accomplishment. Julie Burchill reminded us this week that 22% of Nobel prizes have gone to Jews who make up 0.2% of the global population. That statistic is not surprising and could have been approximated by any objective guess-work.
I will go further. I would have been proud to have forged closer personal ties with Jews even, had the opportunity arisen, to have married in and so joined their club. To stretch this encomium even further, I have considerable sympathy with some of Israel’s military operational conduct and anyone who does not understand why Israeli troops feel compelled to inspect humanitarian aid travelling to Gaza is too credulous about human respect for the red cross and crescent. There have been many occasions when those symbols have been used to camouflage activity in contravention of international law (and some of it by those who we thought knew better - check out Allied hospital ships carrying munitions in WWII).
But in spite of all this, it is a very big sadness that, from its War of Independence in 1948 to the present day, the state of Israel has allowed itself to so bluntly smash the hopes and aspirations of the Palestinians with some of the fearful methods of discrimination, control, repression, and assault which have in all too recent history been used against their very own parents and grandparents - activity which contravenes the 1949 Geneva conventions and their subsequent additional protocols. History explains the political, social, geographical, spiritual, and religious causes of this forlorn irony. Explanations yes, but not excuses.
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