The Human Legacy

David Neiwert has just posted "The Human Legacy," the tenth and final part in his brilliant series on Eliminationism in America. The entire series is a brilliant read; I highly recommend going through the whole thing, when you have the time.
The dynamic of eliminationism thus begins with the conceptualization of other people as less than human, and finds its voice in rhetoric that portrays them as objects fit for elimination: vermin, disease, slime, traitors, killers. This rhetoric sets the stage for action by creating a rationale, which itself is seen as a signal to the like-minded for permission to act. Then, as the action occurs, the rhetoric is used to justify the violence, and indeed to inflame it still further as both ratchet upwards. In some cases, as with the internment of Japanese Americans, the action takes the form of government policy -- one from which, it must be added, violence was largely absent; but in others, as in the case of the Nazi Holocaust or the extermination of the Native Americans, the entire enterprise is violent from start to finish.

There is a causal connection here, but it's not a necessary causality -- that is, eliminationist rhetoric may always precede and accompany eliminationist action, but it does not always inspire it. What we can say is that it does make it far more likely, if not inevitable, as it increases in volume. But because there is an obvious time gap between the respective appearance of rhetoric and action, it's also possible to prevent that step from taking place -- most notably, by confronting it.
After all the pearl-clutching over "foul mouthed bloggers" this past week, it is highly important that we remember that rhetoric exists that can actually cause horrific damage. A few "f-bombs" can't compare to this eliminationist rhetoric that has become all too common in this country.

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