On this day in 1666, the Great Fire of London finally ended. It had started early in the morning of 2 September, so it went on for four days. It made 70,000 of the city’s 80,000 people homeless. There is some question as to how many people died as a direct result of the fire, but it appears to have been fairly low. But no one really knows, because no one creating official records really cared when poor people died.
The fire started in a bakery. But at the time, the people of London decided that it had been started by
Mexicans immigrants. In that case, it was French and Dutch because England happened to be at war with them. So many people were beaten and lynched. It’s an interesting kind of mentality of us humans, “There’s a terrible fire going on! Let’s do something! Let’s kill innocent people based on rumor!” Clearly, even if the immigrants had been responsible, that was not the time to seek justice.
This is yet another reason why demagoguery is such a bad thing. It’s all fine for Donald Trump to go around saying that Mexican immigrants are rapists. But the moment there’s a crisis of some kind, who gets blamed? Who do the rest of society start attacking? This is the very worst of what we humans are — and it is in us all. This is why we need to create institutions and ways of thought to counteract this in us. And let’s be honest: we are better than we have been in the past. But we have a long way to go. And there are a lot of people who continue to push us in the other direction.