2. Flags in Flames in a Burner’s Eyes

烈焰中的国旗——焚烧者有话说

Muslim immigrants have been lambasted for burning Israeli flags in Berlin to protest on Jerusalem. Mr. Heiko Maas, Minister of Justice of Germany, denounces their burning as a display of “anti-Semitism”. Ms. Ines Pohl, Chief Editor of the Deutsche Welle, tells immigrants to “abide by” the “fundamental value” that burning any national flag is “unacceptable”. Meanwhile, Israel has called for a change of the German law to prohibit such burning. Although I look forward to an Israel, with liberty and justice for both Jews and Arabs, having the entire Jerusalem as its capital, I find it difficult to agree with the logic behind such criticisms.

因为耶路撒冷问题,穆斯林移民在德国焚烧以色列国旗,引来举世抨击。德国司法部长Heiko Maas谴责这种“反犹主义”行为。德国之声主编Ines Pohl要求移民“遵守”“不得焚烧任何国家的旗帜”这一“基本价值观”。同时,以色列呼吁德国修法防止事件重演。尽管我希望以色列在能同时为犹太人和阿拉伯人带来自由和公义的情况下拥有整个耶路撒冷作为首都,可是我难以赞同这些批评背后的逻辑。

Firstly, those Israeli flag burners were not necessarily aimed at the Jewish community because a national flag represents a state rather than a people. Consequently, burning an Israeli flag is more likely to denote political furor over the state of Israel than make an outcry of racism. In fact, those Muslim burners are not powerful Nazis but the main targets of today’s neo-Nazism. Also, they are not the only ones to have done the burning. For example, ultra-orthodox Jewish groups repeatedly burn Israeli flags to protest their own country. Would Mr. Maas also accuse those Jewish protesters of anti-Semitism?

首先,那些人焚烧以色列国旗并不一定是针对犹太社区,因为国旗代表政权,而非民族。他们的焚烧行为更像是传达对以色列国的政治愤怒,而不是向犹太人发泄种族主义。事实上,那些穆斯林焚烧者不但不是强大的纳粹,反而是今天新纳粹的首要攻击目标。而且也不是只有他们才焚烧了以色列国旗,比如极端正统派犹太人也反复这么做,作为对他们自己国家的抗议。Maas先生也会指责那些犹太抗议者反犹吗?

I have never burned an Israeli flag but burned the flag of communist China, which I find symbolizes the brutal crackdowns in my homeland, including restrictions on freedom of speech and religion, torture of lawyers and activists, and massacres in Shadian and Beijing. While Ms. Pohl cites the necessity to protect minorities and strongly disapproves of burning the flag of any country, I see no connection between respect for the Chinese flag and protection of the Chinese people to whom grave persecution under this flag has been happening. On the contrary, defense of such a flag can be more excruciating to the victims than its burning.

我从来没有焚烧过以色列国旗,却焚烧过共产中国国旗。我认为这面旗帜象征着发生在我的故土的那些残酷镇压,包括限制言论和宗教自由、酷刑折磨律师和活动人士,还有沙甸大屠杀和北京大屠杀。虽然Pohl女士以保护少数族群为理由强烈反对焚烧任何国家的国旗,可是我看不出尊重中国国旗和保护中国人民之间有任何联系——事实上,中国人民正在这面旗下遭到惨烈的迫害。恰恰相反,对受害者来说,焚烧这面旗不让其觉得被冒犯,捍卫这面旗反让其受煎熬。

The fact that Israel unlike China is a democracy and the home of a sympathizable people makes burning of its flag more controversial. The angry German responses are as comprehensible as the Muslim uproar incited by Mr. Terry Jones’s Quran burning. Being pro-Israel and Muslim myself, however, I support the rights to voice dissenting views of Israel and of Islam, even in the unpleasant way of burning. A ban on burning will suppress criticism. If this ban becomes general, critics will be easily punished for blasphemy and a free society will stop being free.

与中国不同,以色列是一个民主国家,也是一个值得同情的民族的家园,折让焚烧它的旗帜更具争议性。德国社会对此的愤怒其实和穆斯林社区对Terry Jones焚烧古兰经的愤怒一样可以理解。可是,尽管我支持以色列,自己又是穆斯林,但我还是赞成:人们有权异议以色列,也有权异议伊斯兰,哪怕是通过焚烧这种让人不快的方式。焚烧禁令会压制批评。如果这种禁令被泛化,批评者更会经常因亵渎而遭惩罚,自由社会将不再自由。

In addition, by asking the burners to conform to the country’s norms, the German left have observed the right-wing norm of treating those Muslim immigrants, who are probably permanent residents or citizens, as outsiders. They are unprepared to hear and share those immigrants’ memories and concerns of what Ms. Pohl calls “a nation of immigrants”. When it comes to the alt-right, however, liberals seldom question on their assimilation but accept them as full members of the German society despite their xenophobic and sometimes anti-Semitic speeches. Liberals’ double standards reveal their own failure to bridge the gap between the majority and the Muslim minority of Germany.

在另一方面,德国左翼要求焚烧者遵循该国社会的规则,他们自己其实是遵循了该国右翼将穆斯林作为外人看待的规则——尽管这些移民或许是永久居民或公民。虽然Pohl女士把德国称为一个“移民国家”,然而该国左翼还没有做好准备去倾听和分享移民的记忆和关切。然而,他们很少用融入问题质问该国另类右翼,他们承认另类右翼是德国社会的完全成员,尽管这帮人发出仇外和反犹的声音。德国自由派的双重标准说明,他们并没有在该国多数群体和穆斯林少数群体这之间架起桥梁。

Our Chinese flag burning video ends with the caption “It won’t be long before we the people raise our own flags of liberty and justice over the land of the free and the home of the brave.” Like the American flag, our new flags are not to be enshrined in a temple but to be burned in the streets. Flags in flames without sparking moral outrage or raising racial questions will prove us as brave people with freedom that is true and strong.

我们焚烧中国国旗的视频是以这段文字结束的:“时候快到了,我们,作为人民,将升起我们自己的旗帜——自由和公义的旗帜,它们将在自由人的土地和勇敢者的家乡片飘扬。”就像美国国旗一样,我们的这些新旗帜不会用来在庙里供奉的,是用来在大街上焚烧的。当烈焰中的国旗不会激起道德愤怒、也不会带来种族问题的时候,我们就将证明自己是勇敢的人,我们拥有真实而强健的自由。

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