February 15th, 2007

Ann Vole

discrimination breeds discrimination

Quote from http://www.lonelyplanet.com/worldguide/destinations/europe/belarus/essential?a=culture

(history of Belarus)
Since the Russians required Jews to live in designated areas - one of which was Belarus - the country's urban Jewish population increased dramatically during the 19th century, and in some towns more than half the population was Jewish. Most urban areas were largely populated by Jews and Russians, while the Belarusians remained on the land, having little political influence or access to resources.

During WWI, many Russian-German battles took place in Belarus, and a lot of the country was destroyed. Germany took Belarus, but in 1921 the country was divided between Poland and Bolshevik Russia (which became the USSR the next year). The Soviet section of Belarus was subjected to purges and agricultural collectivization during the 1930s, and its culture and independence were quashed. Thousands of Belarusians were executed, mostly in the forests outside Minsk.

When Poland was invaded by Germany and the USSR in 1939, the USSR took back the Polish section of Belarus. Unfortunately for the Belarusians, they were on the front line again when Germany invaded the USSR in 1941. The German occupation was savage and partisan resistance was widespread. In 1944 the Germans were driven out by the Red Army, but Belarus was trashed in the process: barely a stone was left standing in Minsk and a quarter of the country's population died. Many of the dead met their end in Nazi concentration camps or were deported and executed by the USSR.

(end of quote)

I read elsewhere that the Jews were restricted on where they were allowed to live and if they were allowed to own land all across Europe and Asia at the time (1500s to 1700s). If you cannot have land back then, your options would only be to open a shop or be a banker-financier. Jewish shops were often targets of vandalism so being a banker is an obvious choice profession. I have heard many people blaming Jews for causing the discrimination against them by their strangle-hold on the financial structures. I could not deny they held financial power but I was sure it was not their choice or some sort of conspiracy on their part and now I think that discrimination against them from being allowed to own land or stay in one area (a good disincentive to own land if you may be deported at any moment) that caused their particular choice of occupations - need instead of greed.

I instinctively saw this sort of advantage made out of persecution when I came up with the back-story for my main character's species in my epic webcomic... his species was the ruling class before the other species rebelled... but they were the ruling class simply to keep from being killed... I have a whole mess of interesting politics involved but I may have to read more about dark-ages Jewish situations and later histories for ideas on how discrimination and the quest for survival on the part of the oppressed can lead to interesting situations that lead then to new discrimination. Hey, if you go back slightly further, the "Holy Wars" between the Islamics and "Christians" is what sent the Jewish people all over the place... still not their choice!

From a biological standpoint, pest control (weeds, vermin, bacteria) generally results in stronger and harder to kill versions. Oppression is never the answer to get rid of something. We have used antibiotics too much and now a "super-bug" bacteria may kill humans world-wide without stop because of that. (not that I want anything bad for the Jews just saying how all the persecution they endured was counter-productive to the goals of those persecutors...

Going the other way, after Hitler controlled the media, many Jewish people took it upon themselves to control Hollywood to prevent that from happening again... new Neo-Nazis seem to have that Hollywood control as a reason to discriminate further... it seems like it will never end.