As I watch the coverage these last couple of days of the deaths of Margaret Thatcher and the son of mega-church pastor Rick Warren I am truly in awe of the depravity of those who seemingly have nothing better to do than dance on their graves. No, it’s more than that…it’s the complete lack of human compassion for another. It would be the same disorder we would pronounce on a serial killer who kills without remorse, without reason and without feeling. Those dancing in the streets of London today proclaiming “the witch is dead” are dancing on the grave of a woman who has not been in power for over 20 years. What exactly did she do to them to warrant this behavior? Rick Warren’s son probably never once interacted with one of these haters on the internet in a fashion that would warrant such vitriol, yet here we are with such comments as, “it’s obvious God doesn’t listen to Rick Warren” I mean seriously…who does that? In a 2001 Newsweek article by George Will, In Jedwabne, attempts are made to explain an aspect of human nature which may coincide with what is going on in our current culture.
July 10, 1941, half the Polish town of Jedwabne murdered the other half. Of 1600 Jews about a dozen survived. The atrocities that occurred in this town was not the result of years of propaganda by the Nazis, in fact, the Germans had only occupied the town for two weeks before the mayor and his officials met with the German officials and coordinated the massacre. Everyone participated in some fashion and even peasants arrived at the town as though they were traveling to a fair. As men, women and children were stabbed, beheaded and stoned some fled to a pond and drowned their babies and then themselves to escape the tortuous deaths awaiting those who remained.
Prior to the Germans arriving the Jews and Poles co-existed. The town was under Russian control, thus, immune to years of German propaganda blaming the Jews for economic depression and medieval myths about ritual murders of children by Jews, or by lust for plunder. There is no social conditioning theory which could offer an explanation to account for their behavior.
Prof. Jan Gross’ book, Neighbors, attempts to address the behavior of this particular community. Gross refers to Eric Voegelin’s thoughts about the “simple man, who is a decent man as long as the society as a whole is in order, but who then goes wild, without knowing what he is doing, when disorder arises somewhere and the society is no longer holding together”. Gross concludes, why in Jedwabne did neighbors murder their neighbors? Because it was permitted. Because they could.
Those dancing in the streets or gleefully blogging and tweeting over the death and suffering of others should take note of the lessons in Jedwabne, and possibly take an honest look at themselves. The allowances made for anonymous hateful remarks on the internet and demonstrations celebrating the death of individuals who never committed mass murder, child rape, or genocide should raise serious concerns for the rest of us. If anyone ever asks me why I so vigilantly support the 2nd amendment, I need look no further than human history (if you honestly think the Holocaust was the last example of such human depravity you haven’t been paying attention). I for one won’t be running to any pond.
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