Yesterday, the Providence Journal published my warning to Rhode Island if the local political bubble becomes too thick:
With a little more experience of the world and some internet searches, one can reason out the steps that lead a society to such a place. A 1937 poster titled “The Subversive Jew” caricatures a Jewish man insinuating himself behind a good German, to “subjugate” him “for the goals of Jewry.” A 1943 pamphlet, “The Jew as World Parasite,” warns that Jews’ “internal force of faith favors racial relatives and generates bitter hardness and passionate hatred against everything foreign.” Amazingly, the 20th century’s archetypes of racial animus, the Nazis, went after Jews for racial intolerance!
How could anybody have believed that stuff? Well, some people will believe just about anything, and even less gullible people will find it easy to believe self-serving things. More importantly, if enough people in a community think that everybody else believes something, they’ll find themselves behaving as if it’s true. Most people just wanted to get along in life, and it isn’t worth becoming a target by associating with people everybody’s supposed to hate.
It’s easy to hate the last generation’s villains, because we’ve been socialized to do so. The problem is that evil doesn’t have a race or a demographic group and is happy to change its costume to bring out our worst tendencies and divide us.