Before and during World War 2, in part due to the 1935 Nuremberg Laws, “dangerous” or otherwise “undesirable” persons were to be “purged” from the Nazi-era society. Some of the thinking behind these and other, related actions was “out of sight, out of mind”; the driving force behind the Nuremberg Laws and other, subsequent actions was to neutralize then remove altogether the supposedly perverted, “diseased”, and definitely unwanted presence of the undesirables, because no not take action “guaranteed” their continued presence would infect and destroy all hope of achieving an idealized “perfect” society and race.
Shortly after World War 2, Soviet premier Josef Stalin forced the relocation of thousands of people, depending on their ethnicity. Poles were sent into majority Polish territory, for example; ethnic Germans were forcibly relocated from majority Polish areas to majority German areas. The goal was to minimize “possible” ethnic/border unrest, so the “ultimately achievable” goal of creating another perfect society could be made easier.
“Ethnic cleansing” in the Balkans in the 1990s utilized various methods to rid a particular region of the “other”, from outright military action to what could be described as vigilante acts. The very existence of the “other” was once again a feared presence, deserving of whatever action was needed to wipe out their allegedly corrupting influences.
India still wrestles with its millennias-long question of how to treat the lowest of the low, the Dalit caste aka the Untouchables”.
The infamous Pol Pot regime in Cambodia tried to remake the entire society, culture, and people into what a tiny few people believed was to become a perfect society.
On several occasions another country used the majority’s knowledge of the laws, existing conditions or circumstances, and/or fears of what could happen to the society, along with the very existence of and strong support from the majority itself to act directly, often swiftly and with little to no regard for legal, social or other consequences. Forcible relocation, “out of sight, out of mind”, laws limiting the rights and potential of the “other”, keeping the society as pure as possible from future taint by the “other”; these factors permeated the arguments as to why such steps were necessary–and allegedly right.
You may have already guessed “another country” is in fact the “good ol’ USA”. Native-American relocation by treaty, culminating in the reservation system, and virtual extermination of those who resisted. The post-Civil War “Jim Crow” laws, and the widely-spread fears of “race mixing”, leading to the lynchings and other vigilante actions to enforce the laws and maintain the general belief systems. The “relocation” of Japanese and Japanese-Americans (1942-1945), because the safety, security, and “peace of mind” of the majority dictated such actions be taken. The anti-Communist hysteria, post-World War 2. The hysteria over AIDS. There were/are in so many such instances, yes, permeating our own history and society, a recognizable “Other”.
Sound or look familiar?
Registrants today, have readily recognized that applying such patterns of thinking and action–well, we have become the scapegoats du jour. A critical step is to keep talking, keep showing actions such as those that may (will?) take place in Florida are evil. That these despicable actions should be themselves added to pogroms, purges, and other knee-jerk actions and thinking is needed–to show a perverse “one size fits all” tendency, for whatever purpose, is a departure from reality. And such beliefs and thinking make our nation’s claims of holding moral high ground and of exceptionalism ring so totally hollow.
I can’t help but think that the wisdom of “Let He who is without sin cast the first stone” is like water rationing during an extreme drought–given all too sparingly. An easier, though far too simplistic alternative has clung to our own government and society, as it has to so many others throughout history. Exposing the flaws and inconsistencies and bigotry using whatever legitimate means possible are critical to reforms. If our government and society as a whole has the moral and intellectual courage to do the right thing . . . .