"There is a very clear and..." she paused for a moment to think of a fitting adjective, "Certain cycle. It's like an upward spiral: it starts out very small but slowly loops out to encompass more and more. Or, no, it's more like a fire. When you have a very dry area, all it takes is a single spark and very quickly there is a major inferno.
"But the point is," Professor Dina Sharp continued, "There is a very predictable series of events surrounding bigotry. It generally starts off with something simple and unimportant. A certain group of people will become the target of jokes, or insults behind their backs. Then, if no one keeps track of it, it'll get out of hand. People will start bullying that group, they'll start insulting them to their face, beating them up, and committing minor crimes like vandalism.
"It could fizzle out then. But in certain cases it won't. Generally the reason that it doesn't stop at petty intimidation is that someone has an idea. Someone develops a theory. Basically, there is some intellectual rationale for the attacks to continue. After that theory or idea develops, there become two distinct groups: the persecutors and the persecuted. Amongst the people who do not fall into either of these categories, there are those who support either side, and those who don't really care either way. The point, however, is that people become divided over the issue.
"Once there is full fledged persecution, there are certain stages which follow, and each stage can be any imaginable length, from days to years. The first stage is that the group is persecuted. They will be sneered at, spat upon, hurt, killed, and many other forms of terrorism hate crimes will be visited upon the group. This can last for quite a while, at some points in human history groups have been persecuted for hundreds, and even thousands of years.
"But, eventually, and inexorably, public opinion will, for whatever reason, sway from the persecutors to the persecuted. The ranks of the persecutors will diminish, and the hate crimes will become less and less. Paradoxically, the persecutors will now become the persecuted. This group now becomes hated on the basis of what they did to another group. And, ironically, similar hate crimes will be visited on them, often by the group that they persecuted to begin with. Those people will want revenge against their assailants. The fickle force of bigotry will turn from the victims to the attackers.
"The third phase is not a very active one, it is more of a period of transition. This is the point in time when, after the first two phases are over, people stop being actively aggressive towards anyone. Now the whole idea becomes sensitive. Anyone who wants to discuss or explain the earlier bigotry will be stepping on very thin ice, and their words and actions will be very closely scrutinized. It will simply be a period of tension, for everyone."
"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov
Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."
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