Examples of Scapegoating in History, what is a modern example of scapegoating?

Essay by Aedammair555Junior High, 8th gradeA+, April 2004

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The Jews were not the only group of people who were used as scapegoats to further the cause of ruthless people. Throughout history, a myriad of people have been wrongly persecuted for belonging to a specific social group.

One example of scapegoating is seen in the infamous "Sacco and Vanzetti" trail in which Italian anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were arrested outside Boston in 1920 and charged with robbing and killing a shoe factory paymaster and his guard. After WW1, America suffered a great loss in business production, unemployment levels rose, and the 4.5 million returning soldiers needed jobs. The nation suffered a plague of strikes by wage-earners seeking higher salaries, and an easy target upon which to blame the ills of society were radical communists and foreigners such as Sacco and Vanzetti who were believed to have taken many American jobs. Though a prosecutor insisted they would be tried for murder and "nothing else," their radical politics remained a focus of the 1921 trial.

Secondly, during the Middle Ages, the sanctity of the Catholic Church was undermined by corrupt and greedy leaders. Members of the clergy, from the pope down to the parish priest, conducted themselves with ruthless abandon, having total disregard for civil and religious laws, and led vile and amoral lives. Yet any person who dared speak up to question or expose the corruption within the church would be brought up on charges of heresy by a court established by the church known as The Inquisition. Under the Inquisition, the church effectively suppressed any dissent or rebellion by executing or burning thousands of good, moralistic church members who were making an attempt to correct the wrongdoing within their faith. The Inquisition was most active in Spain under Tomas de Torquemada, who sometimes gained "confessions" through torture. It is estimated that tens of thousands of reform-minded people were put to death in this manner. These people were convicted of heresy and used as scapegoats in order to allow a dishonest clergy to remain in power for centuries.

During the 1980's AIDS epidemic, homosexual men were stigmatized and accused with causing the disease. This prejudice against homosexuals probably stemmed from the fact that the first noticeable victims of what is now called AIDS were homosexual men. And, as more and more homosexual men exhibited symptoms, doctors assumed that it was a disease only affecting the gay community, and so they christened the new virus GRID (Gay Related Immune Deficiency). Eventually, however, doctors realized that 'GRID' was a disease affecting people of all races, sexes, and preferences, they renamed it AIDS. However, this preconception that homosexuals had started the disease lasted through the 80's. People needed someone to blame for the outbreak of the disease, and saw an easy target in the 'improper' and alternative lifestyle of homosexual men.

Finally, during WWII, the United States partook in appalling stereotyping against Japanese-Americans. During the spring and summer of 1942, the United States Government carried out one of the largest controlled migrations in history. This was the movement of 110,000 people of Japanese descent from their homes in an area bordering the Pacific coast into 10 wartime communities constructed in remote areas between the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the Mississippi River. The American government saw these people as a threat to national security, and so they placed them in camps that held the same principle as the Nazi death camps which the US was fighting against at that time. The government simply went around from door to door, and if a person appeared to be of Japanese descent, they were sent away. American officials didn't care whether one had been living in the U.S. their entire life; they acted on the notion that, because one had Japanese blood in oneself, one must be an anti-American spy.

Unfortunately, this disgusting treatment of people of other races continues to this day. In the wake of the September 11th attacks, people of Middle Eastern ancestry were targeted as being possible terrorists. We must learn to look past the noticeable differences in physical appearance, and to value who someone is as a person, rather than judge them because they belong to a certain sociological group.