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Thursday, July 25, 2019

Years and Years 1.5: The Disappeared



Episode 1.5 of Years and Years couldn't be more tragically relevant to our lives right now in the United States, off-screen.  It was about the treatment of immigrants, their placement in concentration camps, and what that really means.

Here in the United States, the detention now of would-be immigrants in camps at our southern border, where children and parents are separated, and children are kept in deplorable conditions, including having so little room as needing to sleep standing, in holding areas without access to toilets, has been decried by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others as "concentration camps".  Trump and his minions have characterized these members of Congress as "socialists," and feigned outrage at the use of the phrase "concentration camps," which the Trumpists claim is an insult to the Jewish people, whose relatives were put in real concentration camps by Nazis in World War II.

First, I should say that I'm Jewish, and I wasn't insulted by use of the term "concentration camps" to describe the awful conditions in the Federal holding facilities.  No, I wasn't insulted, I was horrified to learn about these conditions.

In Years and Years, Vivian Rook, the wily, fascistic Prime Minister of Britain, actually says something which supports the position of the Congressional observers here now in the United States.  Viv rightly says that concentration camps do not necessarily have to mean death camps -- they can relate to any concentration of people or any thing in a given place.

But, given the nightmare scenario that is Years and Years, Viv soon uses the cover of non-objectional concentration camps indeed to do what the Nazis did.   Borrowing an approach from fascist regimes in real-life South America, the British government quietly begins "disappearing" (i.e., killing) the immigrants it's keeping in concentration camps.

In the season finale next week, we'll see if this means the end for Viktor.  In the meantime, score another powerful and horrifyingly relevant episode of Years and Years.

See also Years and Years 1.1-1.4: "Democracy ... Worn Out"

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