Monday, August 30, 2010

Close to the eruption of pogroms against Muslims?

I hope not, but then again, there is little doubt that there has been a major ramp-up in not only violent rhetoric but also violent behavior targeting people who either are Muslim or who are mistaken for Muslim. The term pogrom is worth visiting here, due to the fact that our current climate of violence, fear, and loathing is either condoned by or in some cases actually encouraged by leading authority figures among our political right-wing. The climate is now sufficiently volatile that such concerns of potential pogroms is regrettably warranted. It would be akin to throwing a lit cigarette on spilled gasoline.

What is a pogrom? Let's take a brief definition from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum:
Pogrom is a Russian word meaning “to wreak havoc, to demolish violently.” Historically, the term refers to violent attacks by local non-Jewish populations on Jews in the Russian Empire and in other countries. The first such incident to be labeled a pogrom is believed to be anti-Jewish rioting in Odessa in 1821. As a descriptive term, “pogrom” came into common usage with extensive anti-Jewish riots that swept Ukraine and southern Russia in 1881-1884, following the assassination of Tsar Alexander II. In Germany and eastern Europe during the era of the Holocaust, as in Tsarist Russia, economic, social, and political resentment of Jews reinforced traditional religious antisemitism. This served as a pretext for pogroms.

The perpetrators of pogroms organized locally, sometimes with government and police encouragement.
Basically, pogroms were a real problem for a scapegoated ethnic minority in much of Europe through most of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century (although the phenomenon predates the origination of the term all the way back to ancient times). I seriously doubt that they sort of emerged in a vacuum, but rather after ages of hateful rhetoric amidst plenty of economic and political turmoil. Fast-forward to the early years of our own sorry century, and we see a pattern emerging here in the US. that seems eerily familiar. History doesn't repeat exactly, but there are consistent patterns worth examining and exposing in order to prevent future atrocities.

No comments:

Post a Comment