Throughout history demagogues have blamed outsiders for all their peoples’ woes in difficult times, they have been accused of ruining the economy, undermining the fabric of the nation and of subversive or criminal activities, I’ve posted on the ludicrousness of some of these accusations before: Immigration scandal: Lancastrian takes Yorkshireman’s job, Yorkshire threatens to leave the UK
I hear some people are bemoaning the nebulous and spurious nature of this claim, so here are two examples from modern history where xenophobia has gone from inappropriate to horrifying.
Not so long ago, in a country in the western world, a group of people were persecuted: this persecution was not aimed at their race, their religion or their sexual orientation. This discrimination was aimed at their political views, they were considered a threat to the nation’s way of life. People were arrested on suspicion of belonging to this group, special hearings were held by a committee where these people were publicly slandered (sometimes without a scrap of evidence), subjected to blackmail and threats. Hundreds were targeted with far more abuse than evidence. Their lives were ruined, they were unable to find work, and were pariahs in their communities. These peoples’ rights were violated wholesale, rights enshrined at the highest possible level in their country’s constitution. Their alleged political views made them unpatriotic, they were part of an international conspiracy. These were not all “little people”, some were movie stars, famous directors, writers and personalities.
Earlier, again in the western world, there was a country in economic depression. In this country a certain person came into the public eye, who promised to fix all the country’s problems, rebuild the economy, restore its prestige and regain its rightful place in the world. How? The solution was simple: get rid of the source of all these problems; get rid of a certain group of people, who along with others like them elsewhere were part of an international conspiracy to ruin the country. It all sounds so deliciously simple, doesn’t it? Excise the tumor and all is well. Again, these people were not nobody’s and unlike the previous example, there weren’t just hundreds of them.
Those of you who’ve read your history will know which events I mean. It’s my deepest fear that many people will fail to see the connection between these events and some of the rhetoric being bandied about today. Now as then it’s all about scapegoats.
Speaking of conspiracies, I seem to recall reading recently about an international conspiracy of Eurocrats whose goal it was to take over Europe…