Encyclopedia > Persecution

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Persecution as it is used below is persistent harrassment, abuse, degradation etc. heaped upon an individual or group by a different group based upon perceived differences.

With the exception of Monotheistic Religious Persecution, persecution normally arises from an over-generalization of the distinction between the parties of a conflict. The intrinsic motivation is primarily that conflict arises because of beliefs and desires which are not directly discernable aspects of a person; when such beliefs or desires are themselves believed to correspond to easily visible distinctions, the easily visible distinctions are substituted.

Generally it is a majority group persecuting a minority group since the reverse is usually impractical (but see South Africa), however majority groups often inspire resentment and where they are locally a minority they may find themselves persecuted (see Harlem, New York[?]).

As a general case: whenever a movement which is publically or implicitly identified with a minority group—such as a religion, a genetic heritage, a region, or other traditional distinction—becomes successful enough to disrupt the status quo or is associated with violent acts, there can be expected to arise a reflective persecutory movement within the majority. This persecution generally does not distinguish between minority group members who support and minority group members who oppose the movement. The persecution of those who oppose the movement which inspired the persecution often radicalizes the persecuted into supporting the movement, thus demonstrating the Fallacy of First Order Control.

As an specific example: when the government of Japan directed its armies against the United States in 1941, it was widely perceived that most Japanese people derived from a particular racial sub-group (e.g. Japanese), and most Americans did not. This was over-generalized to mean that all people of Japanese descent were allied with the government of Japan, and this over-generalization led to a persecutory movement in the United States which was reflected in exaggerated cariacatures of Japanese people in the popular media and to the incarceration of hundreds of thousands of Japanese Americans accused of no crime.

While the conflict involved is usually violent armed conflict such as war, there are prominent examples where persecution arose from sustained economic advantage or reproductive excess (i.e. the threat of reversing the minority status). However such persecution often develops into armed conflict, erasing the distinction.

"As a specific example": the persecution of Jews in Europe before the holocaust reflected in large part a perception that Jews were simply "richer" than other people. Remnants of that over-generalization are still present in modern (objectionable slang) idiom. This persecution developed into genocide without ever becoming a war between Germans and Jews.

Opportunistic Persecution: it often happens that an orator will take advantage of an existing current of resentment (suspicion of advantage) to publicly identify a group with some trend as a means of enhancing his own political power by mobilizing his group to persecution. Often this is a direct invocation of Fallacy of First Order Control. This opportunism can also be applied in reverse, where a minority orator provokes persecution in order to unify a minority movement.

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