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

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