Growing up, it felt like every time we turned around, we were learning about the Holocaust. It seemed like year after year, one of our teachers was dragging out the Holocaust literature, berating us with historical facts, so that they would be branded into our minds. We watched movies, we read books, some of us visited museums. Those black and white images left marks, not on our physical bodies, but on our spiritual ones. As kids, we vowed that such an unspeakable tragedy would never take place again.
Why would they spend so much time teaching us about the same topic year after year?
Did they truly want to educate us on what NOT to do?
Or did they think that by focusing on an event that took place so long ago, that people wouldn’t look to the present and start noticing what was going on around us within the very borders of our own country?
Now, I know that this is a bit of an extreme comparison, but if we are not careful, we will start to see beginnings of our own mass persecution, and even genocide here, in the United States of America.
Before we begin, I would like to list the ten stages to genocide, so see if any of these sound familiar, or if you can start to see them as our discussion continues.
- Classification – dividing “them” from “us” using ethnicity, race, religion, or nationality as indicators.
- Symbolization – giving names or symbols to a group of people, using colors or dress. This is not a bad thing, unless it leads to dehumanization and becomes enforced.
- Discrimination – dominant groups use laws, customs or politics to deny rights, becomes exclusive
- Dehumanization – equated to animal, vermin, diseases, or insects. Ideas that “we are better off without them” begin to circulate.
- Organization – often used by militias or military task forces so as to allow state deniability. organized by arrest, torture, or even murder of those suspected in opposition of the state.
- Polarization – groups divided by extremists, targeted by polarizing propaganda, targeted groups are disarmed, in order to give the dominant group advantage
- Preparation – “ethnic cleansing”, “purification”, “counter-terrorism”, impose fear on the masses of the “problem”, plans are made.
- Persecution – victims are identified and separated, basic human rights become abused, death lists are drawn up.
- Extermination – mass killings, “extermination” used because killers no longer believe their victims to be human. Sometimes started by revenge killings
- Denial – surest indicator of further genocides, perpetrators try to erase knowledge of the event, blame victims and deny committing crimes.
(this information has been paraphrased from 10 Stages of Genocide)
People are ignorant. Our government is refusing to teach our young people about the things that matter, such as accurate history, and current politics. Instead, we shove standardized tests down the throats of our youth, forcing them to ace a test, instead of learning valuable information that they would need to know in order to be a good citizen. Teaching patriotism is one thing. But Patriotism and Nationalism are two completely different things.
Nationalism enforces the idea that “America is the best! Everyone else sucks!” Whereas Patriotism is the decision to devote yourself to your country (even while being aware of its flaws).
When we start detaining people within federal lands that are over 100 miles away from the border, or when we start ripping children away from their parents to rot in cages, we are no better than the Nazi’s of the mid-20th century in Europe.
How many countless groups of people are we seeing be marginalized right now, in 2019? Let me give you a clue… pretty much every group of people that is not straight, white, or claims to be christian.
There are hate crimes being inflicted on the LGBTQ+ world. There has been talk from many “christian” people who agree with blatant persecution of the Queer Community, and even talk of making homosexuality a crime. Speaking as a Christian myself, who believes that marriage was designed for one man and one woman, these developments make me sick to my stomach, because whether or not I agree with a person’s decision to live a “gay lifestyle” (as the church likes to phrase it), that does not mean that I do not still love Queer people, or that I want to see them harmed in any way.
Also, just a side note – Persecuting a group of people for their sexual or gender orientation, and condemning a person to Hell just for their attractions, is NOT what Christianity is about, and any “Christian” that acts otherwise, needs to go back to Sunday School and learn how to read their Bible properly.
We are seeing racial divides, not even 50 years after the Civil Rights Movement. Black people and brown people are feeling the repercussions of a prejudiced society. They are dealing with more backlash than they should. A young black man, who has never done anything wrong in his life, cannot even drive down the street in a newer car without being stopped by hostile law enforcement, purely for the color of his skin. A muslim cannot even walk down the street with a head covering without getting sneers and stank eyes from passersby.
Immigrants come from all over the world, seeking refuge, political asylum, or even just an international career advancement in their company. Immigrants are not just “Mexicans trying to cross the border.” We have Europeans, Asians, and Africans, among other, that move into our country every single day. Yet, which ones do we tend to treat as outsiders?
Imagine this country reaching a point where it is unsafe for you to live here, probably due to war, or a dictatorship. You have a family with small children, the rest of your family has already fled the country. What are you going to do, for the safety of your family and yourself? Stay, and pray like hell not to end up in poverty or imprisoned, and possibly watch your family be raped, beaten or killed in front of your very eyes? Or would you take a huge risk, save up some money, and make the dangerous trek to a foreign land, hoping that the foreign country will take you in?
When we look at political refugees, this is usually the story. Their countries are impoverished by war or famine. Their leaders refuse to take care of their people, thinking that they can gain control through fear and starvation. USUALLY, this is what happens when people cross illegally into our country. If they are coming from a “safe” country, then generally speaking, they are going to come in the “right way”, they are going to make sure that their paperwork is in order first.
That does not give us the right to illegally detain illegal immigrants in illegal cages, or illegally rip their children away and illegally deny them food and shelter. It is their right as a human being of this world, to be given the basic necessities of life, and it is our obligation as a member of the United Nations to grant them those basic necessities, if they are seeking political asylum within our borders.
Yet, we marginalize them, we discriminate against them, and classify them based on their skin color, or accent. We dehumanize them and polarize them by believing the lie that “they are stealing our jobs”. When in reality, if you would pay attention, more often than not, those jobs that they are “stealing,” are the jobs that you never wanted to do anyway, such as landscaping or busing tables. And now we are going so far as to persecute them, separating them away into “detainment camps” along the border, simply because they were seeking a better life for their family.
I do not say these things, because I hate this country, or because I want to flee and find a better place to live. I say these things I LOVE this country, and because I grew up believing that this was the better place to live. I am a patriot through and through. I will stand for this country, even when this country forgets who it is, and where it has come from. I believe that in this day and age, we need true Americans, and I intend to be just that.
A True American is someone that believes that our freedom was not won by luck, but by the sacrifice of those brave enough to fight for this country. They know that freedom is not just for the people already living in America, but for those that seek asylum and freedom from their own oppressive countries as well. A True American is someone who is willing to fight for the rights of those weaker than themselves, for those that do not have a voice, and for those that have been marginalized by self-righteous, biased naysayers who actively choose to remain uneducated on the general happenings of this world. They believe in the basic Human Rights, as listed by the United States of America (The Bill of Rights) as well as the United Nations (The Universal Declaration of Human Rights).
Ignoring those basic human rights, and obligations is how a mass genocide begins. That is how wars begin, and not even on an International level, but within our very national borders. And if we, as responsible citizens of the United States of America do not take stock, and recognize the blaring warning signs that are popping up in front of our face, if we do not stay educated and make smart decisions (especially with an upcoming Presidential Election next year), it will not be long before we find ourselves in the middle of a Second Civil War.