Once upon a time there was a civilised country. Its people were intelligent and reasonable, by human standards, but it suffered the misfortune of acquiring some leaders who saw some advantage in leading them astray.
These leaders used an age-old method of getting, increasing and keeping power: the old trick of persuading most of the population that a minority of “different” people in the country were bad and dangerous. This trick almost always works for any population of humans. The trick works best of all when the “bad and dangerous” people own something valuable that can be taken from them.
In the country we are talking about, the leaders persuaded most of the population that the “bad and dangerous” people wanted to destroy everybody else, that they were dirty and sub-human and that they followed an alien and wrong religion. These people were so bad and dangerous that the leaders decided that they should be systematically removed from the country. Their property would be confiscated and given to the proper people. In time the country’s population would be purified of the influence of the bad and dangerous people and everybody would be glad and free from fear.
To begin with, the “bad and dangerous” people were encouraged to pack up their families and leave the country, finding new homes in other places. Many did so, but the time soon came when no other countries were willing to receive them. Many went aboard ships and sailed away, hoping that other countries would accept them when they arrived. This did not often work.
Bad and dangerous
While all this was going on, the leaders of the country were also busily trying to expand their country’s borders, adding to its territory and wealth by a combination of diplomacy and force. Many people in other countries were horrified and alarmed at the actions of this nation, but at first they did little to stop it. The world’s most powerful governments argued that the country in question was an important counterweight against other countries that were regarded as much more dangerous. The country in question was also an important trading partner, so many businesses in the world’s most powerful countries didn’t want their governments to do anything that might disrupt their profitable trade.
The time arrived when the leaders of the country in question had driven away as many of the “bad and dangerous” people as they could, but there were still many remaining, apparently hoping that the hard times would pass and their lives might go back to normal. The leaders of the country made the lives of the “bad and dangerous” people as difficult as possible. They were stripped of many of their civil rights, had their freedom of movement restricted, and were constantly demonised in the press and in political speeches. Many ordinary people were inspired by their leaders to be violent and cruel towards the “bad and dangerous” people, and many others were happy to benefit from the property that was confiscated from them.
The “bad and dangerous” people were herded into special districts where they were isolated and confined. Their living conditions in these districts were poor, and got worse over time as their movements and supplies were restricted.
Every now and then one or two of the “bad and dangerous” people would snap under the strain of constantly being humiliated and attacked and they would perform some violent deed against some of the other citizens of the country in question. This was treated as a great gift by the country’s leaders, who could use the violent deed as an example of how bad and dangerous these people were. This would then justify even more harsh measures against the “bad and dangerous” people.
Things got to the point where there was no obvious way to return to what used to be normal. The leaders could not afford to back down because that would make a lie of their entire claim that the “bad and dangerous” people were a terrible threat that had to be eliminated before everybody else could be happy and safe.
So the leaders decided they needed a final solution and they issued orders accordingly. They had plenty of willing helpers because they had spent so much time and effort persuading the population about the terrible threat from the “bad and dangerous” people. The final solution was the same as it always is in cases like this. The “bad and dangerous” people would simply have to be exterminated. Men, women and children would all have to be destroyed. This was easy because the leaders had all the power, and the “bad and dangerous” people had practically nothing left.
Luckily for some of the “bad and dangerous” people the leaders of the country in question had managed to get themselves into a war they could not win with other countries that were bigger and stronger, and their final solution was interrupted before it was complete. The leaders who misled their country were removed and then many of the people of the country declared that they had never even believed that the “bad and dangerous” people were any threat to them at all. They had all been tricked, they said, or perhaps they had no idea what had been going on.
The “bad and dangerous” people, many of them starved, sick and scarred forever, went back to what was left of their lives and the rest of the people forgot they had ever found them threatening. But some of the “bad and dangerous” people, now free, decided they wanted to live in a country where this terrible thing could never happen again, so they went across the sea to a new place to make new lives free of fear.
And they swore that nothing like the terrible things that had befallen them would ever happen again.
But unfortunately, they did.