When one looks through the history of the last century, many great atrocities can come to mind. However, the one that is the most common is that of the Holocaust during World War II. People often wonder how something like this could have been allowed to happen. These same people wonder this without realizing that something similar has happened, right within their own shores. Not only this, but they do not realize how previously close we could become to having this happen again.
To understand how this could happen again we must first understand how it happened at all. One can not think of the Germans as hate based beings frothing at the teeth at the opportunity to kill a Jew. The German people were normal people, like you and I. It was only through the obfuscation and propaganda of the Third Reich that the German populace was able to ignore what was going on around them. The first step in this machine was to separate the Jewish people from the rest of the Germans. By doing small things like making them wear Stars of David on their clothing, things that wouldn’t be considered so bad to a normal person, the Third Reich managed to make the German people think of the Jews as separate.
What would the common person think if their neighbors were being forcibly ‘relocated’? Why should it concern them? It is not as if their neighbors were being hauled off to their deaths, they were just being put into Jewish only neighborhoods. This was all most citizens would ever think of the issue. To them, once the Jewish people were moved they were no longer a concern. There were some, however, who were bothered by this. These people attempted to help the Jews in any way they could. This, however, could not be allowed. What would other people think if the truth got out? These ‘troublemakers’ were quietly shuffled off in the dead of night to share their Jewish friend’s fate, do die in a Concentration Camp. This is why the holocaust was allowed to happen; the average citizen had no idea what was really happening. They were too distracted by the German propaganda efforts to pay any mind to what really happened to the person who used to be their neighbor.
Even hearing this, it is with great hubris that people think this could never happen in their homeland, in the good old United States of America. These people, however, are ignorant to a part of their own national history. Why wouldn’t they be? The United States is not in the business of reminding its people what it has done in some of its dark hours. Most people will never know that during World War II, we too rounded up people and put them in ‘Internment Camps’. December 7, 1941, a day that will live in infamy, will not do so for only the reason most remember. This day, a blanket presidential warrant authorized U.S. Attorney General Francis Biddle to have the FBI arrest a predetermined number of «dangerous enemy aliens,» including German, Italian, and Japanese nationals. 737 Japanese Americans arrested by the end of the day.
This was only the beginning of our stroll down the path of the Third Reich. In the early months of 1942 Japanese Americans were forbidden to server in California’s civil service. As well, all German, Italian, and Japanese aliens were ordered to leave San Francisco Waterfront areas. Soon laws were passed in which the US Army began restricting Japanese Americans to their homes within «restricted areas». It was not long until the House Committee on Un-American Activities released its 300 page Yellow Book, containing almost every possible charge against Japanese Americans. Japanese aliens and people of Japanese descent were forced to evacuate from designated «Military Zones» and were forcibly rounded up and imprisoned if they did not comply. While we did not take things as far as to kill the people rounded up, one must question how close we came. It was nearly 10 years until all of the anti-Japanese legislation was off the books for good.
Any rational person would think that we have learned out lesion from this, that the modern media would stop any of this from happening again in our country. Consider, however, the following possible future for our country. While America is considered by many to be a melting pot of cultures, there is one group of cultures that has been left out of this melting pot: the Native Americans. Most people don’t give them a second thought outside of their favorite western movie, and because of this they make the perfect example in our fictional future. Imagine this if you will: A national Government corrupted by the influence of corporations, and scared by attacks against them and their ever burning need for oil. In a flurry of legislation, various patriotic acts are passed that allows the Government more freedom in fighting what it calls terrorists.
At the same time, however, corporations are looking for more cheap oil in the United States, and there is only one place where it is readily available: Native American reservations and Federal parklands. Bowing to corporate pressures, the United States decides to exert Eminent Domain and start handing the oil rich reserves over to the corporations that ask for them. Imagine how the Native Americans would feel: we’d spent centuries taking everything from them, and now the Great White Father was snatching up what little they had left. What now if the more radical minded formed an organization, a Sovereign American Indian Movement. Of course the United States Government isn’t going to respond to words, action is necessary.
Imagine that one day, these members of SAIM raided a nuclear missile silo, and managed to get a bird in the air before they could be stopped. Imagine now that miraculously this missile did not explode and start World War III. What would the American people think when they found out that Native Americans have almost caused a Global Nuclear War? How long would it take for Anti-Native American riots to break out? How long would it be until the Native Americans were rounded up and put in «re-education centers» for «their own safety»? How would the press be able to report about such things if the Native Americans were called «Terrorists» under the new laws?
We must face the reality that the mass of humanity is easily manipulated by people talented in the way of propaganda. Only by knowing what has happened to us in the past and remaining ever vigilant of current events can we ensure that things such as this never happen again. This is the only way we can be safe, we can never forget and pretend things never happened. Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. No matter how far we think we have come we must remember, the more things change, the more they stay the same.