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Life Arts

"The House I live in:" America's Slow Motion Social Holocaust

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It is only a palliative like alcohol or ,drugs that allow them to escape their dire circumstances even if it is only for a moment. Yet, we all promote the myth that the next job is just around the corner, knowing fullwell that for "disposable people," this is cruel hoax and is far from the case. We simply cannot admit to ourselves that we have a society that spends more tax money on imprisoning our disposable people than on educating them or providing viable work alternatives for them. When half a century ago futurists predicted the coming of this very era, they imagined that "the disposbale people" would be taken care of by the state and thus would be engaged in procutive activities in the arts, etc. Boy how wrong they were!

The Subtext of the Movie

What are the ultimate consequence of a callous, mean-spirited and uncaring society that produces disposable people and then fashions a legal system that imprison's them in unconsionable numbers, and an economic system that exploits their misery in equally large numbers, while walling them off from normal society? 

Jarecki, the son of a family many of whose members did not survive Hitler's mechanized system of death called "Final Solution of the German's Jewish problem, makes a compelling case in this movie that such a society is most likely to lead to a a repeat of the Nazi experiment in the ultimate disposal of unwanted people. Jarecki comes to this conclusion by examining the subtext of American society carefully, and then concluding that the steps that frame American society, its skeletal parts, parallel those erected by Hitler in his "Final Solution. 

Here is what Jarecki sees as constituting that parallel framework:

Step 1: Identify the culprit as an urgent menace to society. In Nazi Germany despite being a part of Germany's cultural upper crust, Jews were nevertheless identified as society's culprit, ite vermin, the feared "other." In post-modern America it is the black man, the low-level drug user, street criminal and pusher, who assumes the same role as Hitler's culprit and generic Jewish scapegoat. Both are seen as the prototype of the ultimate corrupting influence in the respective societies. 

Step 2:Ostracize and demagogue the culprit until hatred for them is internalized and can thus be stirred up to a fever pitch at any instant. In Hitler's Germany this was accomplished in a gradual but carefully government orchestrated campaign of anti-Semitism that reached a crescendo in November 1938 with Crystall Nacht. In the U.S., the same is accomplished informally by racial stereotyping and profiling, coupled with widespread arrest on trumped up charges -- as well as a result of daily political demagoguery -- as well as with a suite of race-based measures that depict blacks as being the ultimate drag on American society. In these images blacks are depicted as sex-crazed, baby-making machines, worthless deadbeats, or welfare Queens who live only for their monthly welfare checks.

Jews were forced to wear Yellow stars of David, and were openly harassed and humiliated. Inner city blacks are harassed by racist police, in humiliating street searches and thrown into jail on the filmiest of pretexts. In each case, the results are the same: society is given cultural permission just beneath consciousness to treat Sartre's proverbial "others," as vermin. This carefully prepares society for step three:

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Step 3: Take away the culprit's means of survival so that he feels undeserving of any place in society except the "place" society has reserved and assigned to him. In both Nazi Germany and the U.S., systematic discrimination and denial of access to normal paths of success were blocked and thus used to force both Jews and blacks to internalize the negative identities and stereotypes their respective societies had assigned to them. 

But additionally, in the U.S., except for a few "tokens," like Clarence Thomas and Barack Obama, the price of access to a normal life has been raised immeasurably beyond a threshold where a non-professional working level black can aspire. This includes a virtual complete denial of a good education, jobs, and faair affordable housing. What is left for the victim in both cases is a choice between despair, or, dealing in the underground economy. For Jews it meant bartering away family heirlooms; seeking ways around German laws, etc.; for blacks the last resort is hustling on inner city streets -- as selling drugs on the street and engaging in pimping, and petty crimes, that is, maneuvering for a precarious survival in the underground economy.

Step 4: Isolate the culprit in a ghetto where he is cut off from society and any means of independent survival on his own. Then take away everything he owns and warehouse him so that he can easily be dealt with away from the prying eyes of society. In Nazi Germany, Jews were herded into ghettos in preparation for the final step: deportation to the East. All their property was confiscated. In crowded and unsanitary ghettos, they were blocked from any normal means of survival, and on pain of death could not leave the ghettos. 

On the other hand, while a few blacks that can afford it, and can indeed escape the inner city ghetto, for reason given in step three, most cannot leave. So they live out their lives adopting and then slowly adapting to a self-destructive culture of despair, becoming drug users and eventually being forced (in order to satisfy their drug habit or make a survival level living) into becoming drug pushers as well. 

Step 5: Change the laws so that the culprit can never return to being a normal citizen and can be concentrated away from the eyes of society where he becomes invisible and normal society's discard. In Nazi Germany, this is when the laws against Jews mandated their deportation to concentration camps in Eastern Europe. The trains were efficient and ran on time, even when they were more desperately needed to prosecute the war. 

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In the U.S. the prison-industrial complex, through its lobbying efforts, keeps building bigger, more expensive prisons with full faith in the consistency of American discrimination, system of injustice, and racist traditions against blacks and poorer minorities that a reliable flow will be ensured well into the future. 

Plus with America's draconian 100-1 cocaine laws (recently reduced by Barack Obama to 18-1) and the three strikes and you are out law, which proscribes mandatory minimum sentences, and life sentences without parole for three crimes no matter how minor they are, the prisons are guaranteed to be filled with a fresh supply of young black men and other young poor minorities to fill the quotas needed by the prison industrial complex well into the foreseeable future. 

The American criminal justice system, as testified to by a number of those interviewed on the film, has become the gatekeeper of last resort and the turnstile that keeps fully one fourth of the black male population in jail, prison, or otherwise under the control of America's embarrassingly unjust criminal justice system.  This is rapidly approaching one million men. Once indicted for a drug felony, the suspect immediately begins to lose, his identity, his freedom, his property and all of his rights as a citizen. A convicted felon cannot vote, receive welfare, or healthcare, live in public housing, ever get a meaningful private job, and is automatically disqualified from any federal jobs as well.

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Retired Foreign Service Officer and past Manager of Political and Military Affairs at the US Department of State. For a brief time an Assistant Professor of International Relations at the University of Denver and the University of Washington at (more...)
 

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I just saw this movie a couple of weeks ago, and i... by Dan Mage on Tuesday, Nov 27, 2012 at 12:11:29 AM