Never Again: The Political Lessons of Repression
Abstract: What political lessons do victims of extreme repression learn and pass on to their children? This project explores how the personal experience of repression may change the political attitudes of survivors and their descendants in two distinct and competing ways. First, experiences of repression could engender empathy toward other victims, making survivors of repression (and their descendants) more supportive of oppressed outgroups. On the other hand, experiences of repression could heighten levels of fear such that the future security of the group becomes paramount. This could make these individuals less supportive of other repressed groups, if they believe these groups constitute some type of threat. In this study, we explore these two divergent effects in the context of the Jewish experience of the Holocaust and their commitment to the abstract principle of ‘never again.’ Specifically, we use a survey experiment among American Jews (including survivors, descendants, and those with no family connection to the Holocaust), priming empathy or threat considerations and then measuring support for US acceptance of Syrian refugees, and other outgroup political attitudes.
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