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Thursday, July 21, 2005

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 What is eliminationism?

What, really, is eliminationism?

It's a fairly self-explanatory term: it describes a kind of politics and culture that shuns dialogue and the democratic exchange of ideas for the pursuit of outright elimination of the opposing side, either through complete suppression, exile and ejection, or extermination....

But while eliminationism's most startling historical example was provided by the Nazis, it also has a long and appalling history in the annals of American democracy....

Eliminationism in truth forms the really hateful, violent core of fascism, the facet that distinguishes the real item from its pseudo manifestations (though of course not all eliminationism is necessarily fascist). It glories in violence, in action over intellect, and always insists, of course, that it represents the true national identity.

Rhetorically, it takes on some distinctive shapes. It always depicts its opposition as simply beyond the pale, and in the end the embodiment of evil itself -- unfit for participation in their vision of society, and thus in need of elimination. It often depicts its designated "enemy" as vermin (especially rats and cockroaches) or diseases, and loves to incessantly suggest that its targets are themselves disease carriers. A close corollary -- but not as nakedly eliminationist -- are claims that the opponents are traitors or criminals, or gross liabilities for our national security, and thus inherently fit for elimination.

And yes, it's often voiced as crude "jokes", the humor of which, when analyzed, are inevitably predicated on a venomous hatred.

But what we also know about this rhetoric is that, as surely as night follows day, this kind of talk eventually begets action, with inevitably tragic results.

Read on...

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