- the act of subjugating by cruelty, force, etc or the state of being subjugated in this way (by pressing against)
I was thinking of this word as the relative humidity level rose yesterday to 90% while the air temperature hovered in the 90’s, Fahrenheit, that is, not Prince’s purple era. Weather reporters use a variety of terms to describe the levels of humidity. Comfortable is a nice one. Then comes moist. Sticky. Maple syrup sticky. And finally wet concrete encapsulating with only a straw to breathe through, i.e., drowning. The dogs days of summer do feel cruel until one gets into air conditioned nirvana, and then, ahhhh, all that salty sweat chills you down. It’s oppressive, for sure, until the fall arrives.
Oppression is not just a relative humidity concept, though. It gets at hostility between people groups as well. Like too much water in the air can slow folks down, too much money, religion, politics, crime, noise, pollution, regulation, etc. can likewise become oppressive. Humans slow into a torpid state under the weight of oppressions. If one does not jump quickly like the frog thrust into boiling water, then that one will die incrementally, one degree at a time.
During the horrors of Hitler’s Final Solution and his fantasy of a Third Reich, many people groups were oppressed, not just the Jews. Other undesirables included the Gypsies or Roma. Thought to have emigrated out of (E)gypt, gypsies were believed to be inferior people, non grata because they were non-Aryan. They had the wrong blood and were nomadic and mentally defective. The Nazis were all about ‘blood and soil’. Blacks and Poles were also considered like Gypsies to be “sub human”, deserving to be sterilized and/or murdered.
Jehovah’s Witnesses were another lesser known group of undesirables because their faith forbade saluting the flag or shouting “Heil Hitler”. No matter their blood lines, these folks weren’t good sheep and refused to worship the state, its megalomaniacal leader, or The Reich’s hypnotic symbols. Off to prison they went because they refused Hitler’s twisted delusions.
Homosexuals were undesirable as well. Not much has changed, so it seems to me. Because they did not fit the bogus Aryan mythology, they had to be herded into concentration camps and eventually exterminated. They had to wear pink triangles in concentration camps to mark them as homosexuals. Remember Jews had to wear yellow Stars of David. Strange isn’t it, that any extra markers were needed to identify these obviously undesirable people. If they were so obviously inferior, wouldn’t that have been self evident? Nope. The Nazis got confused when they met blonde haired, blue eyed non Aryans, like Poles. They would ship these kids back to Germany and have them raised by good Aryans. Shallow, yes? Ironic twist: their unbreakable code was broken by a homosexual, Alan Turing, father of the modern day computer.
Intellectuals were also undesirable in Germany and Austria. To think differently than the State was suspicious and finally a death sentence. Actually, their crime was simply thinking. The Nazi party line was unintellectual emotionalism, mostly fantasies. Ultimately the horrible treatment of intellectuals led to a brain drain in the Reich. The intellectuals oppressed out of Nazi held lands were some of the very folks who developed the atomic bomb and other weapons that ended the war. Einstein is the best known genius run out of the Reich lands.
Let’s not forget Communists. They were suspect because they were not easily incorporated into the one true faith of German National Socialism. Plus the Germans considered Russians to be sub humans, and most communists hailed from Russia back then.
Mentally and physically disabled, or as the Nazis like to say “defective”, folks were sterilized or euthanized. So tidy and scientifically unsound. Another measure of how shallow the Nazis were. If you were deaf, you’d be sterilized. “Hear me? No kids!!” Alcoholics, drug addicts, and criminals met the same fate in concentration camps.
And the first ones to get rounded up and oppressed? Why the free press, of course. The old saying goes “Truth is the first casualty of war”. The enemy of the state, hmmm, that sounds familiar. Judges and lawyers were also gathered up for arrest. Journalists and folks who knew the law had to be silenced in Hitler’s Reich. Why they might teach others to think and then write about their thoughts.
Then all non Aryans except the Chinese and Japanese were undesirable. Good old xenophobia by Adolf. He had some grudging respect for their ancient civilizations and made them “honorary Aryans”. Megalomaniacs are nothing if not inconsistent.
I’m sure I have skipped over some other groups like Roman Catholics. They had a higher calling than the Third Reich, which was intolerable to Hitler and his henchmen, whose ultimate goal was a dechristianized Germany after the war. There was only room for one god, Hitler.
Why the history lesson, Burrito? Let’s see. Today we have a virulent xenophobic streak running through many of our elected officials. Some of the targets are the same as they were for Hitler– Blacks, the free press, protectors of the law, intellectuals, and anything resembling socialism. However we have some new player in the scapegoat pen. Muslims, of course. They need to be locked out of our country. Illegal aliens, especially Mexicans, also have to be terrorized. They are sub humans, after all. Lock them up. Generalize from the few and demonize them all. Transgendered folks took on unprovoked lightning bolts right from the jump of this new administration as a potential threat to military esprit de corps. No data needed here, just visceral gut check. The order came from the top down, not from the operational level. One more solution for which no problem existed.
Of course the old “tough on crime” battle cry continues, as it did for Richard Nixon and Joe McCarthy. It’s easy to hammer at groups that have little support and no real constituency such as inmates, alcoholics, and addicts. Remember the great opioid crisis response promised on the campaign trail? Yeah, the tax cut and deregulations and the end of universal insurance access needed to be tended to first, I guess. Hell, for the price of a good ego massage parade in D.C. you could actually help many of the least of the citizenry.
Well, oppression is still with us. Probably like humidity it always will be. Still, a guy can run his dehumidifier and hope for better times. Fall is coming.