June 24, 2018

TRIBALIST-IN-CHIEF:

The dark history behind Trump's inflammatory language (Anne Applebaum, June 22, 2018, Washington Post)

It is remarkable, in retrospect, how many and varied were the dictatorships of the past century. Murderous regimes -- states that killed large numbers of their own citizens for political reasons -- arose in every possible type of society. Communist, fascist and tribal ideologies evolved in places whose cultural histories, economic status and religious traditions had nothing in common. Wealthy Germany and impoverished Rwanda. Buddhist Cambodia and Orthodox Russia.

Yet these different regimes did all have one thing in common. It was the obsession that one French scholar , writing of Cambodia, called the "mania for classification and elimination of different elements of society." In each one of them, the groundwork for violence against a specific group -- whether an ethnicity, an economic class or a political faction -- was originally laid by a very particular way of using language.

In the first instance, inflammatory language was used to define an ethnic minority and to give it fictional characteristics and properties. In some cases, the targeted "tribe" was entirely fictional, created by rhetoric alone. In China, the regime sought to identify the enemy as "Blacks," as opposed to the friendly "Reds." The Russian Bolsheviks defined and blamed the "Enemies of the People." The Khmer Rouge in Cambodia sought to eliminate the "75ers," the people who had been expelled from cities in 1975.

After the unwanted group had been defined, propaganda was used to demonize and dehumanize it. 









Posted by at June 24, 2018 6:31 PM

  

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