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Refuse to fear minority groups

Genocides don't just happen. Evil leaders create them systematically. Refusing to fear minority groups is an essential defence against such leaders.

Posted 21 July 2019

Earlier today, I gave my 49th "Thought for the Week" broadcast on BBC Radio Manchester.

Sometimes it is only the impending deadline that makes me think of a subject. This time I decide the subject as soon as I attended the national Srebrenica commemoration in the Guildhall, London, on 10 July, which I found particularly moving this year.

With an allowance of only 270 words, you have to keep the message as focused as possible, so I could not recount the full "Ten Stages of Genocide" as listed by Gregory H. Stanton, President, Genocide Watch.

You can read my "Thought for the Week" below.

Thought for the Week

11 days ago, I attended a commemoration of the Srebrenica genocide. It still horrifies me that, only 24 years ago, in a European country, Bosnia, nearly 8,000 men and boys were murdered simply because they were Muslims.

I attend Holocaust Memorial Day every year. As well commemorating Nazi Germany’s attempt to exterminate the Jews of Europe, it also remembers the genocides in Cambodia, Darfur, Rwanda and Bosnia.

It frightens me how easily the veneer of civilisation can be peeled away to make people start murdering neighbours and friends.

Last year, the Dean of Manchester Cathedral, Reverend Rogers Govender, reminded me that such genocides don’t just happen. Evil leaders change people into murderers slowly, using a premeditated process.

You start by classifying people as different.

In 1918, they were all Germans who had lost World War I together. Soon Hitler told the majority that they were white Aryan Germans who had been betrayed by the Jews, who were not really German at all.

You make your followers, the majority group, fear the minority you are demonising. Yes. You get the majority to fear the minority.

I could go on with the stages of genocide.

Commemoration events are a vital duty, to never forget the evil we are all capable of. However, remembering is not enough. We need to watch out for unscrupulous leaders trying to stoke up our fears.

Leaders who tell us that our society faces an existential threat. It might be Mexicans allegedly bringing crime to America, or Middle Eastern refugees about to take over Europe.

Our first defence is to refuse to be frightened of our fellow human beings.


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