All art is quite useless, according to Oscar Wilde. But sometimes it reflects life – uncomfortably, for some.
That may have been the case today (October 13) with the broadcast of this week’s episode of World on Fire by the BBC.
One of the main themes of the episode was Nazi Germany’s bureaucratic programme to engineer the murder of that nation’s disabled people – most particularly children – in a huge, and hugely immoral, experiment in eugenics (removing elements the government considers to be undesirable from the human gene pool).
In the story, a young German girl is shown to be suffering from epilepsy. Her parents tell an American radio reporter that they do not want this to become known to the authorities, so she researches the reasons – and finds out that parents of children with disabilities receive letters from the government asking them to send their child for “treatment”. If they refuse to do so, a second letter is sent, with explicit reminders of the child’s condition and a repeated request that they be sent for “treatment”. If a third letter becomes necessary, it threatens to remove the parents to a “work camp” nearby if they do not comply.
But the reporter discovers that there is no treatment. The children are murdered and the parents are given a flimsy excuse for the death and an expression of regret.
This treatment of children may be likened to the way the UK’s current Tory government treats all disabled people who rely on state benefits for survival.
Sure, there are surface differences. The German example refers to children and in the UK, adults are affected. And the Nazi government behaved proactively, stating that it was carrying out an initiative about disabled people, while the Tories have been deliberately withdrawing from action, denying the existence of people’s disabilities.
It seems they have learned from the Nazis and have arranged a way of eliminating people with disabilities that gives them plausible deniability. Whenever a news report discusses the death of a person with obvious disabilities whose benefit had been denied or cancelled by the Tories, the Department for Work and Pensions issues a statement to the effect that any death is regrettable but the circumstances are complex and the withdrawal of benefit must not be considered the cause.
More disabled benefit claimants have died in the UK under Tory rule since 2010 than the Germans managed to murder between 1933 and 1945.
The deaths, and denials, continue to this day.
We should welcome the fact that this TV drama has the courage to spotlight their historic precedent. Why are we tolerating a government that has taken a leaf from the Nazi book?
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