July 13, 2011

The Cost of Bigotry

Last month watched a very interesting film on Netflix. A Film Unfinished is based on a recently discovered cache of Nazi film footage and outtakes from the Warsaw ghetto. As the outtakes reveal, what appears to be a documentary on life in the ghetto is actually a highly crafted example of propaganda — the goal of which was to portray the Jews in the ghetto in the worst possible light, emphasizing the characteristics imposed upon them by the racist bigotry of Nazi ideology: as greedy, uncaring and uncharitable to the suffering among them, and bestial in that suffering. Of course, there is no suggestion that the conditions in the ghetto were caused by the Nazis!

I should probably run this past Counselor Godwin, but this film on the Nazis reminded me of another film I saw recently on PBS, a documentary about Stonewall, which included clips from “educational” films from the 50s and early 60s that portrayed the “depravity and tragedy” of homosexuality. The major theme in this propaganda is that homosexuals live furtive, dirty, and depressing lives. Again, there is no recognition that such conditions might almost entirely result from the larger society’s criminalization and marginalization.

I would love to come up with a catchy name for this syndrome: when Group X forces Group Y into a situation in which it acts in certain ways which Group X then condemns as proof of the inferiority or depravity of Group Y. Perhaps I should call it Bachmann’s Effect, in honor of the aspirant to the presidency whose comments on homosexuals are remarkably similar to those of the bigoted “educational” films of the 50s.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG


Magdalene6127 said...

Ani DiFranco sings,
"The old dog's got a new trick:
Criminalize the symptoms while you spread the disease."

From her song, 'Tis of Thee, on Up Up Up Up Up Up.

Anonymous said...

this is how we are, quick to shout 'jew' anything in fact except 'me.

Paul said...

Bachmann Effect is perfect, Tobias.

Rick+ said...

You're absolutely right, Tobias. My experience in general is people tend to reflect how we treat them. When we treat people as subhuman they become that, and we have given ourselves permission to abuse them; when we treat them as fellow children of God, they become the image of the divine.

JimB said...

Hmm, hard to think of a good name. One thing is true, it is dishonest.


Rev. Kurt Huber said...

How about The Lucifer Syndrome?

(I know it is really close to Phillip Zambardo's The Lucifer Effect but I suspect both ideas are connected...)

Saint Pat said...

A side effect of "Bachmann's Effect" is that the victims sometimes come to believe they're dirty. I saw this in my brother and in others. It was one reason my brother drank himself to oblivion — he saw himself as contemptible because he way gay. He bought the lie.

Br Richard Edward Helmer BSG said...

The name I was taught that applies to this social phenomenon where a minority group begins to act out the stereotypes imposed on it by a dominant majority is "internalized oppression."

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Thanks, all. It is surely one of the great ironies of human behavior that we force each other into these actions and reactions.