The Brethren always pretended, to themselves as much as anyone else, that they were innocuous. Since ancient times their culture had suppressed honest anger. Therefore they never declared themselves, and had a deep need to rationalize their crimes, which is why they took a long time to commit them. They had to maintain the illusion that they'd tried to work things out, or they wouldn't look good. The ringleaders who targeted the Hearers never spoke of hatred. After their exposure, the successors who continued their work in disguise never acknowledged any relationship with them. The second group of ringleaders went so far as to select a religious cult which had been targeted along with the Hearers, and to take it over for their own purposes. Just for the record, this cult condemned Ataar symbols that had been appropriated as 'Brethren heritage' by leaders of the Hearer extermination. And just for the record, it also linked remains of Seer culture to the Hearer extermination, whose leaders had been briefly attracted because they had heard these remains were evil. The cult proved to be a perfect alibi for the new exterminators. Who would guess that the very people who had once plotted its destruction were now using it for their own ends?
After everyone in the solar system found out what they had done to the Hearers, the Brethren made a point of selecting recruits within the populations of the three surviving colony planets. Their agents befriended people in need, and took advantage of their real gratitude while claiming it was all for the good of others. The agents conditioned these people into an artificial feeling that they needed to convert others to the cause espoused by their benefactors –a need to take over the agents' work. As time went on they replaced the agents, and the system became self perpetuating. The recruits were conveniently ignorant of Calandrian history and knew nothing of Brethren techniques. They were carefully taught to feel panic when they saw the most meager traces of any culture the Brethren sought to destroy. And the tool by which they were indoctrinated was most frequently religion. The ringleaders wanted to avoid that institution because it told people to behave properly. And the best way to avoid it was the claim that their targets were enemies of that institution.
There was a formula by which the ringleaders lured their recruits into seeing other people as vermin. First they set the trap by using sacred documents which had intrinsic worth, to dispel suspicion. This alone would not work, since they were going to end up contradicting the laws set forth in these documents. Therefore they made sure that the recruits were removed from these sources of truth. They announced that they could interpret holy scriptures for people who had difficulty with them, and they employed a great deal of quality research in order to establish their credibility. If you wanted to know about something, they said plausibly, you went to an expert.
Once they had established their authority, they could begin work. No one suspected them when they earnestly taught that their followers should not get ideas from their own minds, which were fallible, but should receive them only from the holy scriptures. This was believable because the followers' minds were indeed fallible and the scriptures had intrinsic worth. It was also convenient, since the followers had already decided to accept their leaders' interpretation of everything that was recorded in these works. The result was that the followers gave up their critical powers not to the Creator but to the ringleaders' version of the Creator.
The next step was the elimination of rivals. The new exterminators, seeking to disassociate themselves from their exposed predecessors, had decided to dispense with ethnicity. Some of them maintained that in order to obtain the pearl beyond price, so to speak, their followers had to sacrifice the accumulated wisdom of ancient cultures. This of course meant that they would have no other guidance but the leaders. Everything old had to go, no matter how agreeable or irrelevant, for these people were museum trashers. After all, the past might reveal aspects of ancient history which the Brethren wanted to hide.
Once their cultures were destroyed, the followers became completely dependent and therefore controllable. The leaders claimed that the various analogies by which different religions explained the same truths were actually ideologies that conflicted with their own. The Hearers were criticized for not listening to the Senta emissaries all those years ago, so that the obvious preferability of their guidance in religious matters was not considered. The emissaries themselves came in for a great deal of criticism because of their integration with the aggressive Sentas, and because of Brethren crimes committed in their name. And here is where the ringleaders gave themselves away to anyone who knew their home world. The Seers. The Hearers. The Speakers. Those three groups whom the Brethren hated with such a passion.
Followers became leaders in turn, passing on the word. With each convert, the stage was set to prepare another passive bystander. The leaders began by claiming that they wanted only to eliminate a peripheral element in whatever culture they were targeting at the time. They never mentioned the name of this culture, so its members did not think to defend themselves. Objecting to a peripheral element did not seem sinister, so the ringleaders maintained credibility with their followers, who became convinced that the peripheral element must be an evil thing. Since the leaders mixed their accusations with genuine research their words had the ring of truth, and if there really was something wrong with the peripheral element their job was made easier. At this point the name of the targeted culture could be mentioned occasionally, but only as a sideline. So the followers never saw themselves as exterminators but thought the main focus was on something else.
Next the leaders claimed that the peripheral element permeated the entire culture of the targeted group. They did this by focusing upon symbols of the culture, or physical signs. The followers were never told which of these symbols belonged to the peripheral element and which did not, and so they came to regard all evidence of this culture as something to do with evil. Thus the followers were conditioned to feel offended by every indication of the targeted culture's existence. In the meantime the targets were unaware of their danger; they had no idea what was being rumored about items which they knew to be innocuous. The poison was inserted into the population at large through pleasant conversation, concealed amid an assortment of other subjects.
A sure sign of the sadomasochism associated with this phenomenon was the irritation felt by its followers at the very existence of their targets, as if these people had no right to be in the same world with them. Having been taught to feel pain at the sight of them, the followers began to identify them as people who caused pain. By this time the followers had ceased to consider their victims' feelings because, due to this conditioning, they felt hurt themselves. The victims had simply become evil obstacles to their peace of mind which must be stamped out. And if the followers wanted to stamp out anything in themselves, these victims became the perfect substitutes for it, since they were already an irritation.
Next came the infiltration theory, the theory of the Enemy Within. Members of the targeted group were observed to be in high places. No one considered that if they weren't sinister to begin with then there was nothing to worry about. No one found out that they weren't sinister, because of the warning to stay away from evil influences. The opportunity to discover the truth had been effectively barred. With the infiltration theory the targeted group, which before was criticized for not mixing, became criticized for mixing as well. That's called a double bind; it means somebody has it in for you. It was a Brethren specialty. The Enemy Within was seen everywhere. Well of course. This was where the 'Enemy' lived. But since the 'Enemy' had become an irritant, this made it a constant irritant, and the repeated exposure to an irritant only inflamed hatred. The leaders waited for an economic crisis and then pointed to their target in an offhanded way, without apparent antagonism.
After this, something quite interesting happened. You may think that the leaders had been inciting their followers to hostile action directed toward the targeted group. Nothing could be further from the truth. If the followers became antagonistic they might think of themselves as harboring hatred, and identify their beliefs as wrong. What the leaders wanted was not hostility, but apathy. The holy scriptures promised that the meek would one day rule the solar system. From the start, the leaders had equated meekness with apathy, so that when they really started moving the followers would give their crimes silent approval. Nobody mentioned that people who sought to inherit the solar system were not meek. Nobody mentioned that people who were sure they'd be chosen for such a privilege didn't have a chance.
The followers were people who actually regarded the destruction of seven planets with equanimity because they figured they were going to be all right. They didn't care if other people suffered and died. They could always be spotted, because they never spoke above a whisper. And although most of them honestly thought they were doing the right thing, they could be counted on to passively observe the destruction of a racial group, and those who knew better shuddered in horror at their sweet earnest faces.
But what was extraordinary about the religious followers is the fact that they were the victims of their own leaders. The first people scheduled to be carted off were the followers themselves. The passivity into which they were being led was passivity in the face of their own destruction, not the destruction of other groups. For they were being used as bait.
Ironically, their apathy turned public opinion against them as strongly as aggression. The majority of the populations around them instinctively knew there was something wrong with these people. Some considered them as serious a threat as the most violent reject groups. The Brethren used the fears of survivors from their many virtual genocides in order to turn these survivors against the religious followers, who were nothing more than bait. Vainly the Brethren hoped that the People of Knowledge would react violently to their slanders, for if the People of Knowledge acted upon their fears and slaughtered the religious followers, they could in turn be blamed and would eventually be exterminated themselves by an outraged public. The Brethren even committed crimes against their own followers at strategic times and blamed groups they wished to target. All roads led in the same direction.
The extermination followed a certain pattern. First to go was any property associated with a peripheral element that had been labelled as bad. Next in line were whatever individuals the ringleaders wanted to eliminate, who had nothing to do with the peripheral element first targeted. It's amazing how many of these could be got rid of; it could go into tens of millions for one culture alone. And when those individuals were dead, it was time to wipe out all evidence that they had ever existed at all, to wash everyone's brain clean of uncomfortable questions. They started small, these exterminators. And only by looking at their true history could they be identified, since they would always deny their true intentions. The trick, of course, was getting at such a history, for they had burned the truth and had rewritten everything.
Many instruments of this project were Blue People. They flocked to the religious leaders, soaking up slanders about the People of Knowledge. Thus they alienated the Hearers, the Speakers and (most dangerously) the People of Fire who loved both the Seers and the Speakers. And thus were they cut off from the very people who could have saved them from the Brethren.
The extermination of the Blue People was a textbook example of Brethren genocide. Imports from one of the three planets the Brethren had been unable to destroy, the Blue People had been transported as slave labor to work on a colony planet which the Brethren had emptied and taken over. When the planet's economy changed the Blues became obsolete, but they were never transported home. They remained on a Brethren colony that didn't want them, and were given the standard cold shoulder treatment. They followed the usual pattern of Brethren rejects, and their extermination assumed the classic slow and steady pace. One by one they were executed, or died violent deaths at each other's hands. The whole procedure employed every legal pretext under the sun. And while the messiness of the failed Hearer extermination had blown the Brethren's cover, so to speak, that was of no consequence. For the Blue People had fallen into every trap which the exterminators had set for them. They had earned the hatred of every other ethnic group on the Brethren colony.
This was standard for Brethren victims. The greatest advantage of the Brethren was the fact that they could motivate an entire population to hate their victims. Far more powerful than the agents of death were the masses who did not interfere with their projects. Brethren persecution had the effect of turning the victims against those masses, so the majority of the population would not interfere with an extermination. The Seers had been eliminated precisely because they had seen through this technique and had been on the verge of exposing it.
The Blues' disadvantage was the fact that they were unfamiliar with the history of Calandria. The Brethren knew this, and carefully fed them misinformation. The Blue People constantly heard that there were only two groups in the colony, themselves and the Brethren. In order to reinforce this notion, anyone with a drop of Blue blood was identified as Blue. The idea that some people might be ambiguous could have ushered in an awareness of the situation's true complexity. For the colony was teeming with people from every corner of Calandria. These people were all identified as Brethren, but most of them were not. The Blue People had no idea that the other ethnic groups from Calandria hated the Brethren, because they thought these ethnic groups were the Brethren. And to keep the Blues alienated, an amazing array of dramas was presented in which one particular ethnic group –and definitely not the right one– was portrayed as their prime enemy.
This group was not a Brethren group, but it closely resembled the Brethren. There were slight differences in appearance, however, and those differences were stressed in the dramas. Thus the Brethren initially took advantage of their resemblance to this group in order to make it a Blue target, then slid into the differences so that they could set the Blues against it. And why this particular group? Because this was the group set up to be the agents for Blue extermination. These were the ones who would do all the work, face all the dangers and ultimately be blamed. But again, why these particular people? Why had they been chosen for such a task?
The answer is simple. They were chosen because…
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