Things are unfolding very rapidly in Ukraine. But most accounts aren’t giving the long view. For the third time in a century, Eastern Europe has heralded a worldwide shift in power. This is the most significant development of a century.
That pattern of setting the past critically against the present would be repeated in his subsequent documentary work, particularly in the important and celebrated Night and Fog (1955), a devastatingly clinical documentary on the Holocaust, framed by contemporary footage shot by Resnais at some of the camps. These – not yet memorialised or turned into museums – lay in a state of desolate abandon, surrounded by mud and unkempt grass. The effect of the frame is to drag the historical event into a present tense of omission, forgetting and elision, casting the shadows evoked by the film’s title onto society’s capacity to process its own collusion and guilt.
Romani people are still largely referred to by the names they were given as slaves and outcasts five hundred years ago; they are still stereotyped as dark skinned and uncivilised invaders from the East rather than as citizens of European Union states; physical violence against Roma as a specific ethnic group is not only under-prosecuted but often actually perpetrated by state institutions.
In Australia, the Q Society has emerged as the major ideological platform for anti-Muslim propaganda. The organisation states that it was ‘formed [in 2010] in response to growing concerns about the discrimination, violence and other anti-democratic practices linked to Islam’. The First International Symposium on Liberty and Islam in Australia (March 7—10) is a joint project of the Society, its merchandising arm SkipnGirl, and Stop Islamization of Nations (SION), a coalition of anti-Muslim groups in the UK, US and Europe founded in January 2012.
Just recently, the Spanish government announced it was passing legislation to grant citizenship to Sephardic Jews expelled from the country during the Spanish Inquisition. Before that time, religious minorities had been generally tolerated and allowed to follow their own laws and customs in private. In 1492, royal decrees were issued by the Catholic monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella that institutionalised discrimination and persecution against other religions. Essentially, members of any other religious group were considered inferior to Catholics.