Actress Gina Carano posted a historical image on her social media last week that should have provoked little to no stir in the cultural consciousness.
Instead, however, she was met with all the wickedness of modern-day political intolerance, further illustrating the severe dysfunction of the modern American political climate.
“Because history is edited, most people today don’t realize that to get to the point where Nazi soldiers could easily round up thousands of Jews, the government first made their own neighbors hate them simply for being Jews.”
She concluded, “How is that any different from hating someone for their political views?”
It did not take long for the intolerant mob to launch an all-out assault on the actress and mixed martial artist, labeling her a deplorable and anti-Semitic member of the alt-right.
Gina Carano was fired from “Star Wars” after an “abhorrent” anti-Semitic post about the Holocaust.
Fans have campaigned for Disney to fire her for months over her social media posts — in which she criticized wearing masks and was accused of mocking transgender people. pic.twitter.com/12fkD2jX0n
— AJ+ (@ajplus) February 11, 2021
With the online mob demanding immediate termination, Lucasfilm, a Disney subsidiary, fired Carano from her role as Cara Dune on the exclusive Disney Plus hit, “The Mandalorian.”
“Gina Carano is not currently employed by Lucasfilm and there are no plans for her to be in the future,” Lucasfilm said in a statement. “Nevertheless, her social media posts denigrating people based on their cultural and religious identities are abhorrent and unacceptable.”
Carano was then dropped as a client at United Talent Agency, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Of course, her statement was in no way anti-Semitic, nor historically inaccurate. In fact, her words call attention to the increased normalization of ideas and sentiments which contribute to much of the heightened political tension we see today.
Those who immediately jumped to claim that Carano had attempted to equate the plight of European Jews during the mid-20th century to conservatives today were deeply misguided.
That assertion is clearly made in bad faith and based on the assumption that tolerance should only apply to beliefs the mob will tolerate. Her exact language points to the truly horrific nature of the Holocaust.
What her statement and the resulting reaction highlight is that the gravest threat to the purpose and utility of tolerance now comes from the prevalence of doxxing, cancel culture and political violence.
Carano’s post illustrates, more importantly, how people with unorthodox or unpopular opinions — the actress included — are often targeted by social and political mobs who enforce the “standards” of the day. There is no freedom to practice the beliefs by which you live; there is only the freedom to believe what the mob dictates you believe.
Two books — “Neighbors” and “For Two Thousand Years” — provide a glimpse into how the degradation of tolerance can contribute to a political climate that incentives dehumanizing rhetoric.
Written by Mihail Sebastian in 1934, “For Two Thousand Years” is a historical novel that displays how a social state in which the identity politics of anti-Semitism dominate the life of a young man raised in pre-war Romania.
The main character of the novel is quickly judged and humiliated by his friends and colleagues. There is no room for tolerance and understanding.
“Don’t act the Jew … Don’t speak that Jew-talk with me,” one character says.
The main character, shocked, goes on to describe the scene, saying, “I went pale. There was nothing I could do; everything between the two of us — memories, friendship, our professional relationship — turned to nothing.”
In another example, the main character, expressing the disillusionment of his situation, is met with complete apathy from his mentor.
“At every corner … an exterminator of Jews. It wears me out, depresses me,” the main character says.
His mentor replies, “Yet there is a Jewish problem, and it needs to be solved. One million eight hundred thousand Jews is intolerable. If it was up to me, I’d try to eliminate several hundred thousand.”
The protagonist, under constant identity-based alienation, cannot escape from the intolerance and hatred cast toward his ethnic background. If one dared to speak out against or question it, there would soon be punishment to follow.
Today, conservatives, libertarians and even progressives who dare to criticize the radical left are silenced and censored, their beliefs shunned from what can be considered permissible and normal. Once power is centralized in a few hands, as in the case of Big Tech, considerable harm can be done to the basic freedoms and liberties that we cherish.
As Carano pointed out, the horrors of the Holocaust and the destruction of European Jewry were perpetrated by more than just members of the Nazi regime. Regular people betrayed their neighbors, turned on their friends and denounced their colleagues if the opportunity presented itself.
Carano’s words are an astute observation on how political tribalism can produce the foundational circumstances in which disastrous tragedies materialize. For those who championed Carano’s firing, another examination of history may be necessary.
The actress’ post can be further explained through the lens of Jan T. Gross’s “Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland.” Written in 2000, “Neighbors” tells the story of 1,600 men, women and children slaughtered by their Polish neighbors.
“Revealing wider truths about Jewish-Polish relations, the Holocaust, and human responses to occupation and totalitarianism, Gross’s investigation sheds light on how Jedwabne’s Jews came to be murdered — not by faceless Nazis, but by people who knew them well,” copy on the book’s back cover reads.
“Not only the goals but also the methods of totalitarian politics crippled societies where they were deployed, and among the most gripping was the institutionalization of resentment,” Gross writes.
“People subject to Stalin’s or Hitler’s rule were repeatedly set against each other and encouraged to act on the basest instincts of mutual dislike.”
“At one time or another, city was set against the countryside, workers against peasants, middle peasants against poor peasants, children against their parents, young against old, and ethnic groups against each other. Secret police encouraged, and thrived on, denunciations.”
This intensification of rhetoric and the polarization of American society can be observed in the modern popularity of extremist factions like antifa and the Proud Boys. While these two extremes do not embody the spirit of most American citizens, they are bolstered by bad-faith actors who use dehumanizing and intolerant tactics to silence popular beliefs.
Dehumanizing speech is a defining characteristic of political and cultural totalitarianism. Modern extremist groups like antifa often use language to describe their political counterparts as animals or sub-human, as The New Yorker has reported. With behavior like this on the rise, it is imperative to remember that ideas are ideas, and they are not intrinsically linked to an individual’s character.
Long before Nazi officials sat down at the Wannsee Conference in 1942 to formally plan the “final solution,” they had already weaponized European anti-Semitism to dehumanize and alienate the European Jewish population, stoking the flames of a culture already steeped in disarray.
What accounts like “Neighbors” and “For Two Thousand Years” highlight is the fact that the destruction of the European Jewish population occurred under a cancerous set of values, which the Nazi regime absorbed, embraced and weaponized for its political ends.
The very fact that Carano feels compelled to make comments like this encapsulates the severity of our divisions. The explosive mob reaction produced the final exclamation point.
She was not physically harmed or violently attacked, but Carano was silenced, ostracized and terminated from her job for sharing an opinion.
Accountability is one thing, but alienating a person because you disagree with them sets a framework from which endless damage can be doled out in the culture.
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