Generalizations, as in "all the _______ are ________", are something that none of us can escape. They are something our brains use everyday as they're not capable of dealing with members of large groups individually.
But, even as generalizations are necessary tool, they easily turn into deadly weapon. Literally deadly. And you don't even have to have a bad intention. It's sufficient to sit and agree.
The Association of Serbian journalists said on Monday its annual award would go to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, for his "historic contribution to the right to information for all citizens."
which I retweeted and got this answer:
Isn't that the same country that was pissed off that Slobodan Milosevic was captured and died in jail? Like, isn't it ironic that Wikileaks condemns countries that practice war crimes being supported by one?
You can imagine my furious reaction rushing over the keyboard. If you can't, put in the picture that I am living out my bad karma in Serbia, spent years working in one of the radio-stations that resisted the regime and ate my portion of tear-gas on the streets. And I had a huge amount of luck not to be beaten or imprisoned as many journalists and citizens that were opposing the Milosevic were.
Now you understand that I'm prone to bad reactions on any kind of generalizations. It's as bad as saying that every U.S. citizen is to blame for war crimes of U.S. army in Iraq and Afganistan as well for the Guantanamo prison. It's like saying that all the Germans are nazis and that every Iranian man beats his wife. Or that every white person hates black people. See where that takes us?
The mere story we are talking about here, the story of Milosevic, Balkan wars and war crimes started by accusing the whole nations for something. One day you have a nice big country with a bit of instability, the next day all Croatian people are guilty for war crimes done by Ustase in WWII. One more day and you have a bloodshed and concentration camps on all sides.
image by Truthout.org
Milosevic and his warlord colleagues (it takes more than one to play the dirty game) used the generalization trick to fuel their wars. The very same type of generalization that you saw in the twit from the beginning of this text.
Probably the worst part of that game is that it gets its strength by good, "regular", honest people. People who wouldn't kill or hurt anybody. People just like you, me and my twitter friend whose comment provoked this post. For the system to work, meme must spread among us. Only then the real killers, both those with guns and their bosses, can do what they do.
Once the critical mass of regular people is thinking that all of the Serbs/Croatians/Afganis/Christians/Muslims/communists/gays/whatever are in any way bad the bloody show can begin.
It's up to you to actively reject their game. Or to join it and support the bloodshed and hatred just by sitting.