How we Dehumanize Each Other on a Daily Basis and it’s Outcome

In the 20th century, genocides have taken the lives of nearly eighteen million people. It’s a sad testament to man’s cruelty against man. I’ve often tried to understand the mentality of those that can kill in cold blood without remorse. How could the Hutu in Rwanda kill so many people and not show any remorse whatsoever? It’s hard to fathom the mindset of such a person let alone a whole group of people.

This doesn’t happen just on a large scale but on small scales as well. Gangs in Central America routinely kill their enemies and anyone else that they deem a threat to their progress. That seems to be the key phrase, “a threat to their progress.”

The Nazis believed that the Aryan race was superior to all others and that they had to keep their race pure. This resulted in the extermination of the Jews and other ethnic minorities they deemed subhuman. They viewed the Jews as literally not human, referring to them as rats. The same was true of the Tutsi in Rwanda. The Hutu viewed the Tutsi as cockroaches.

Why did they do this? David Smith, the author of “Less than Human: why we demean and exterminate other” states that “In the apocalyptic Nazi vision, these putative enemies of civilization were represented as parasitic organisms — as leeches, lice, bacteria, or vectors of contagion. “ Regardless of the reason why the hatred started the reality of how they were perceived as less than human. In other words no better than animals.

This was an important development says, Smith, because “Human beings have long conceived of the universe as a hierarchy of value, with God at the top and inert matter at the bottom, and everything else in between…we relegate nonhuman creatures to a lower position on the scale.”  When humans are no longer treated as human they lose value in the hierarchy. In the minds of the Nazis, the Jews were in fact no better than rats and the Tutsi in Rwanda no better than cockroaches.

In today’s world, this hierarchy continues. In the USA, the public rhetoric is often used to dehumanize the opposition. When people disagree one usually calls the other Hitler or a Nazi or more recently a fascist. This happens all the time. Because Hitler and the Nazis, with the alliance of fascist Italy, ordered the extermination of the Jews, it is justified to hurt and even kill Hitler and the Nazis. By calling the opposition a Nazi they are dehumanizing that person and dissociating themselves from the opposition and placing themselves higher in the social hierarchy. They are dehumanizing the opposition. For what reason? Why are they dehumanizing people? What is the end goal?

The same is true with abortion. People want to declare that it is a woman’s right to choose or that it’s about reproductive rights. Sometimes people go as far as to say that the human being in the womb is merely a parasite or a clump of cells. This is yet another example of how people dehumanize that which they are against. If we were to refer to the human being in the womb as an actual human being which is, it would be much more difficult to kill a human being.

Just as Hutu believed the Tutsi were cockroaches, and the Nazis believed the Jew were rats and parasites to be exterminated, we should not dehumanize a life that has been created in a woman’s body. If were to total up the abortions since 1970 it would total more than forty-five million. That is more than double the number of genocides in the 20th century.

We are creating a situation in the world where we dehumanize anything that we disagree with, we cut off contact with people and utterly refuse to talk to them because they are Hitler, a Nazi or a host of other dehumanizing labels. What is the end result of this lack of humanization? If one side refuses to listen to the other and refuses to work things out then there is only one eventual option, revolution. That is the eventual outcome of dehumanization. When Hitler rose to power his first option was to expel the Jews and this worked for a small time until he invaded Poland where he found three million Jews living. He was not able to force them out so the only option was extermination. If we don’t stop our dehumanizing of each other, the only option left is a revolution. No one wants that. The human toll would be disastrous.