Before the Nazis could begin eliminating the Jews physically, they had to eliminate them legally. The 1935 Nuremberg Laws made citizenship a racial category, available to anyone with ‘German’ or related blood — whether they were in or out of Germany. They also made Jews non-citizens. The first step to making them non-existent. It was a chilling time, four years before the start of World War II. We are living in similar times today.
Today Islamaphobia is as virulent and as publically acceptable as anti-semitism was in the past. From America to England to China to India, racial hatred of Muslims and public discrimination against them is common and accepted. Uighur Muslims have already been rounded up into concentration camps in China. We live in these times.
Today India stands on the cusp of horror as they have passed a pair of laws designed to define and eliminate human beings by categorizing them as the two most globally despised categories today — migrants, and Muslims.
India has begun creating a National Register of Citizens (NRC), designed by Prime Minister Modi to ‘throw out infiltrators’ and what Home Minister Shah refers to as ‘termites’. These are genocidal terms, with genocidal intent. People have to provide documents from before 1971 that show ancestors residing in India and then documents connecting you to them. This is difficult for anyone to do, especially in a very illiterate country like India with poor documentation. I invite you to try and do this for yourself, for the country you are in. I have one living grandmother and would have to go dig through her files.
Over 1.9 million people in the state of Assam have been rendered stateless, many of them Hindu. This brings in the second law of the new Hindutva Reich.
The Citizenship Amendment Act, passed by the government, allows ‘migrants’ from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan to be made citizens as long as they are not Muslim. This is framed as a beneficent gesture towards refugees, but is in reality a cynical backdoor to render Muslims and not Hindus (or other favored races) stateless.
Abdur Rahman was an Inspector General of Police in Mumbai who has resigned in protest against these acts. This is what he wrote:
If NRC and CAB implemented jointly, then people belonging to non-Muslim communities even if unable to produce the required document, will be declared refugees and will be given Indian citizenship. This means that the real burden will be only on Muslims to prove their citizenship. This will cause statelessness and hardships on Muslims who have been living in India for thousands of years. (Abdur Rahman, via Twitter)
The effect of these laws is like the Nuremberg Laws. In Nazi Germany, those laws redefined citizenship as being based on German blood, and extended it outside of the borders of what was then Germany. The presence of German people in Austria and Czechoslovakia and Poland was later deployed, then and again, to justify their invasion and annexation. A race-based state has hard borders for outsiders and none for the race itself.
The Reich Laws also made Jews and eventually Romanis and blacks non-citizens, stateless and eventually subhuman. People violating the laws on intermarriage and sexual relations across racial boundaries were sent to concentration camps and eventually Jews and undesirables were sent to the camps just for existing. This all began with the legal framework of the Nuremberg Laws.
Concentration camps are already being built in Assam, often by people who may end up inside of them.
I do not mention the Nazi connection lightly. When I read Rise And Fall Of The Third Reich what struck me was how slow everything happened. What I learned in school was that the Nazis were bad and people saw that and fought them, but that wasn’t how it happened at all. Everything happened slowly, with the world standing by and watching until it began to affect their land.
Nobody actually stepped in to help the Jews, that was just coincidental. Anti-semitism was rife all over the world, from England to the Soviet Union. As Jews tried to flee Germany they were rejected and turned back by everyone. People that reached US shores were turned back by the US government, sent back to the camps.
The same fear of one community and of migrants played out across the world, and we can see it playing out again today. Today it is happening in plain sight in India. A Hindu nationalist government, backed by a paramilitary organization called the RSS, has enacted Hindutva citizenship laws. They have rolled them out in one state and are trying to spread them across the country. They are presiding over lynchings and attacks of Muslims and are laying the physical groundwork to send Muslims to camps. This has happened before and should never happen again.
Thankfully the people of India are rising up to protest. First in Kashmir, then in Assam and now in places that are not directly affected yet — Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Uttar Pradesh, etc. I truly hope they succeed. I hope they defend their secular constitution and India itself. As we know fascism is a fire that knows no borders and respects no humanity. It just burns and in the past has only been stopped by war.
I am one of the categories that would be welcome in India, though from a neighboring country (Sri Lanka) not included in the new Hindutva Reich. But I’m too close for comfort, and this new policy is too horrifying, unjust and inhuman for anyone to be comfortable with.
We are living at a time when history is repeating its ugliest chapter. The demonization and illegalization of an entire category of people and the concentration camps. This is not just India, there are concentration camps for migrants in the USA and Australia and Europe, Muslims in China, and the demonization of Muslims across the world.
We have been here before and we know what follows. We must resist this fascism across the world, and especially in India right now. For years we have looked up to India as the world’s largest democracy, flawed but evolving, struggling and improving every day, holding billions of people and ideas together somehow, inspiring the world. Decent people across the world are looking to India today. Thank God there is resistance now, on the streets. I wish them safety, and Godspeed.