The barbarians may or may not be at the gates, but the barbarians are certainly lose within them.


The evils of racial prejudice, of fear of the other, are alive and well.  The charging of a former Ku Klux Klan member in the kidnapping and murder of two black Mississippi teenagers more than forty years ago may persuade people such acts are historical relics.  But the two deaths were only two of innumerable deaths state and local law enforcement agencies failed to properly investigate, if they even bothered to try.  The charges are due far more to the work of a few individuals, not any law enforcement agency.


In Britain, a survey has shown 41% of people believe the Holocaust or similar event could happen in Britain today.  These people believe intolerance and prejudice are so widespread more than one in three people would do nothing to stop such an event happening.  The survey indicated more than 50% of people don’t know homosexuals, disabled people, the Roma community, and members of non-white races, as well as Jews, were persecuted and murdered by the Nazis.
Genocides, of course, have not gone out of style.  There have been genocides in Bosnia and Rwanda, for example, and they continue in such countries as Sudan, emphasizing that we must not simply remember the Holocaust and the murders of civil rights workers and African Americans, but be determined that they never happen again.


Albert Camus wrote in The Plague  that “[W]e tell ourselves that pestilence . . . will pass away.  But it doesn’t always pass away . . . it is men who pass away, and the humanists first of all, because they haven’t taken their precautions.”   At the end of the novel, people rejoice because the rats are killed and the plague has disappeared.  But as Camus warns, it hasn’t; the bacillus sleeps and may awaken at any moment.


We are obsessed with the barbarians at the gate, but the true barbarians are already inside them. 


They are all of us.

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