A headline that appeared on my screen today says this: “Australia to ban doxxing after pro-Palestinian activists publish information about hundreds of Jews” (by Rod McGuirk, February 13, 2024).

The article below the headline began thus: “Melbourne, Australia (AP) — The Australian government said on Tuesday it will outlaw doxxing — the malicious release online of personal or identifying information without the subject’s permission — after pro-Palestinian activists published personal details of hundreds of Jewish people in Australia. The article may be read at this website:

A new word. “Doxxing.” I didn’t know. Now that I do, I’m sorry I do. This new pseudo-word derives from “dropping docs”—documents—for intentional online exposure of an individual’s identity, private information and personal details. How recently the new word didn’t exist, because it wasn’t needed. That it now exists means someone brought it into existence because it is now needed.

How damn sad. The lead line clarifies the meaning of “doxxing”—no doubt because the article’s author knows full well that most people won’t know what doxxing with two Xs means, and so he had better tell them right up front in his first sentence: “the malicious release online of personal or identifying information without the subject’s permission.”

Well, that says it. Malicious. Which means “willfully mean.” In other words, the doxxer didn’t have to be willfully mean, he or she just deliberately chose to do so. It was a personal choice to be mean. A choice to opt for something negative, something that could harm other people, instead of opting for something positive.

Life is full of such little opportunities to choose between options on a daily basis. Such choices reveal whatever quality—or lack of it—we may be building within our innermost selves as we live our individual lives, hour by hour, minute by minute. They reveal the quality of each individual person’s spiritual growth and development, or lack thereof.

The Australian government is going to outlaw doxxing, says the headline. Good for them. But how can they outlaw the demon that lurks inside small, perverse human minds and fouls them down to the level of meanness that would want to commit the harm of doxxing in the first place?

This new word “doxxing” is now needed to express yet another new version of something that’s about as old as human society—the old word “generalizing.” To generalize means “to derive or presume a general conception from particulars”—which, in non-dictionaryspeak, means “to draw an incorrect or absurd general conclusion by grossly misinterpreting or misrepresenting a few particular instances.” I learned about generalizing many years ago in high school Psychology 101 class, along with other aberrational words such as rationalization and sadist. Words come and go, human shortcomings remain the same: There lie a hundred apples. The one apple I can see is bad. They’re all apples, so “therefore” all hundred must all be bad apples, rotten to the core. Judged, sight unseen, by a self-appointed judger who had no right to judge in the first place.

The Gaza Example

In the present instance, we have the rock-solid fact that Israel is presently engaged in a war against Hamas—a Palestinian Islamic-religious-political organization that is the de facto government of Gaza. The war began when Hamas launched an unprecedentedly brutal surprise attack against Israel on October 7, 2023. Little noted in daily news bites are the grievous reasons why Israel and Hamas are irreconcilable enemies who hate each other.

Gaza has been called the world’s largest open-air prison: 2.3 million people are jam-packed into an area of 141 square miles. Geometrically, that’s only ten miles wide and fourteen miles long. Imagine. Gaza ranks among the most densely populated urban areas in the world.

Exacerbating this inherently troublesome situation is a longstanding blockade, led by Israel with support by Egypt, of goods and people moving into and out of Gaza. The blockade began in response to Hamas’s takeover of governance in Gaza in 2007, with the stated aim of preventing smuggling of weapons into Gaza.

Back to doxxing in faraway Melbourne, Australia. Melbourne residents who sympathize with Hamas have chosen to equate the Israeli Jews who are retaliating against Hamas with all Jews around the world, including those who live in Australia. By thus generalizing the “guilt” they assign to Israel for its fierce response to Hamas’ attack, they somehow rationalize that all Jews everywhere—simply by being born Jewish—are thus equally guilty of the war and mayhem in Gaza. By their benighted reasoning, a six-year-old Jewish child in Chicago, simply because she was born to a Jewish mother, is just as “guilty” of attacking Hamas as are the Israeli leaders actually directing the attack.

To drive the point home, consider again that headline above: “…doxxing — the malicious release online of personal or identifying information without the subject’s permission. Those Australian pro-Gaza sympathizers have published personal details about hundreds of Jewish people in Australia. How insulting; and needless; and potentially harmful to their privacy and wellbeing. Clearly, those hundreds of Jewish people in Australia had, and have, nothing to do with events unfolding in Israel and Gaza. Yet faraway Australians who sympathize with Hamas, which started the conflict, choose to impute blame upon these innocent Jewish Australians as if they were guilty of something.

What is wrong with the brains of people who choose to do such vengeful blaming that’s now called doxxing? It’s rather like blaming all African Americans when one black person is sent to prison for murder. Or condemning all Native Americans because some of them forcibly resisted settlers’ massive theft of their ancestral lands. Or blaming poor people for being in poverty.

Sadly we note that it works both ways. All over the USA, we hear in the daily news about some pro-Israeli Americans disparaging Islamic-Americans in precisely the same way—with absolutely no idea of whether those Americans of Islamic/Levantine ethnicity actually do or do not sympathize with militant-extremist Hamas or the suffering population of Gaza. From the Islamists who populate Hamas, these misguided Americans generalize their negative feelings to all persons, everywhere, who happen to have been born under Islamic ethnicity.

What is wrong with their brains?

The German-American Example

World War II was fought against Japan throughout the Pacific theater, and against Germany and its Axis allies across all Europe spilling over into Africa—intercontinental war on two vast fronts, needlessly launched for the basest of ambitions. Generalizing then, many Americans vented their misguided outrage on German-Americans who were solid citizens of this country, some for generations. I have a friend whose grandfather was abused in those extremo-patriotic early days of the war. My friend tells of the times his grandfather made it home after being beaten by bullying mobs who generalized the sins they perceived of the German nation onto him an innocent American citizen. He’s of German descent, therefore he’s guilty of this war. Let’s beat him up. It used to be called generalizing, nowadays it’s called doxxing. What is wrong with their brains?

The Japanese Internment Example

Whatever it is that’s wrong, it’s been wrong for a long time indeed. During the first year of World War II, political pressure from Americans who equated Japanese-Americans with those Japanese who had attacked Pearl Harbor led to more than 125,000 Americans of Japanese descent being rounded up and imprisoned in internment camps. Many were second- and third-generation Americans whose loyalties lay fully in their home country and were as offended as everyone else by Japan’s aggression. Yet small-minded Americans judged them as automatic Japanese sympathizers, potential traitors, on the basis of their ethnic appearance. And so these American citizens, men women and children, were effectively jailed for three years from 1942 until the war ended. They were of Japanese descent, “therefore” they could not be trusted.

We’re talking about doxxing. And the older term, generalizing—wrongly drawing a general conclusion from a few instances that are grossly misinterpreted. Generalizing is the grievance, doxxing is the revenge. What’s wrong with their damn brains?

This sad commentary says something about the human condition—about the misuse of our God-given faculty of reasoning to conjure wholly false scenarios and then parlay those invented prejudices into mistreatment of one’s fellow humanity. Exact replicas of these examples can be assigned to every era in human history. Turks hate Armenians, Armenians hate them back. Putin hates Ukrainians who resist his intended takeover. North Koreans hate, ultimately, everybody. So many are they who just love that corrosive old angry feeling inside, the one that drags them down, that worsens themselves, not the object of their hatred.

Dumber than dirt. Mean. Just plain mean, vicious—hating without any real reason to hate.

We are supposed to behave in loving ways toward our fellow humanity. In the long run, is there really any hope for humankind?

What do you think?

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