Reprinted from Alternet
This is a particularly interesting week to be traveling across the French countryside, as news fills the papers and the airwaves of another assault weapon-of-war used in another mass shooting done by another frightened--and thus hate-filled--American.
The Europeans know well the wages of hate and fear. And it goes way back into the dim mists of history, well before the era of the names we all know so well from the 20th century.
"The Other" is the key.
Once a demagogue successfully turns a person, a group, a gender (or gender preference), a region, a nation, or a race into the Other, the consequences are terribly but consistently predictable.
An Other is, virtually by definition, less than fully human. They're not "us." They may be alive, they may be able to feel emotion, they may be able to communicate, but they're not us.
Therefore, what we do to Them isn't as important or consequential as what we may do to Us. (See "slavery"; U.S. history 101.)
And when this de-humanization is used by those with economic, religious or political power (the lines between the three are often indistinguishable), it becomes weaponized.
It seems one of the most fatal flaws of the human race is that we keep forgetting this lesson -- or that those elites lusting for wealth and power keep remembering and enthusiastically using it to rally their less-powerful, less-fortunate peers.
Yesterday, Louise and I visited a castle here in the Loire Valley where Joan of Arc helped plan a history-changing battle against an Other of that day. Slaughter and looting ensued, and one group of elites ended up ceding power and land to another. And while all the details of the elites and their fantastic lives are on display, both in the castle and in any history book, what is almost entirely missing from the narrative is how the use of wealth, religion and ancestry to "other-ize" the defeated people impacted the lives of what the Bernie Sanders of that era would have called the "ordinary working people."
While the elites marched into the history books, the "little people" were subject to rape, pillage, torture, murder and a shift from the service of one elite group to another.
It's a story you can find in the Bible over and over again (read the Book of Joshua for some particularly startling accounts of this phenomenon). The Epic of Gilgamesh tells the same story from millennia before Joshua. Every war in every part of the world in the 65 years of my lifetime tells the same story.
And so you'd think that people like Mitch McConnell would realize how powerful and dangerous it is to, as one of my elderly German friends once said, "Gently look the other way."
Instead, so far, like so many of his mostly Republican colleagues and much of the right-wing media, McConnell has so far refused to even acknowledge the role the systematic and even organized (both by party and by religion) other-ization of LGBT people played in the Orlando gay nightclub massacre.
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