Dehumanization and Demonization of the Enemy

Dehumanization and Demonization of the "Enemy"
-Dustie Marie Spencer, Dec. 2007
 

"The dehumanization of the enemy or of oneself traduces the truth of the matter: that human life, whether instantiated as a foe, or a comrade, or oneself, possesses value."

-Michael W. Borough: 157

 

            "Dehumanization is the psychological process whereby opponents view each other as less than human and thus not deserving of moral consideration." [1] When many people think about atrocities involving the dehumanization of the enemy, they envision horrific images of genocide; the Nazi extermination of European Jews, the Tutsi decimation by the majority Hutus in Rwanda, and the genocidal rape of the Bosnian Muslim women. These images are all horrific indeed, but it can be argued that the same process of dehumanization and demonization used in genocides are also used in other less dramatic settings. The term demonization is similar to dehumanization in that it makes the opponent seem subhuman, but not because they are an animal; they are a demon; evil incarnate. Although these processes can be used alone, the two processes are often used in conjunction with one another.

            Though not confined to the war zone, dehumanization is often a conception of a wartime tradition. In a letter retrieved from a war zone, the author, Augustin Cochin wrote against the Germans in WWII,

"Dreadful, dreadful race; the more we see them from close up, the more we loathe them...It is annoying to get killed behind the parapet by such animals. They have a peculiar, powerful odor." [2]

            These processes can be seen in prisoner of war or internment camps and former labor camps, in addition to church pulpits, the local radio show, and your next door neighbor's barbecue. Dehumanization campaigns may start off as propaganda campaigns, but escalate into the justified slaughter of large quantities of human beings. The demonization or dehumanization of the enemy, real or imagined, are tactics that have often been used to not only give a moral precedence for the killings of people, but offers the killer a way to shield themselves emotionally and psychologically from guilt; a state necessary for carrying out these seemingly heartless acts. "For most human beings, it takes an awful lot to kill another human being...The only way to do it is to justify the killing, to make the enemy look as evil as possible." [3] A good justification is essential for convincing anyone, let alone a large group of people, to engage in any effort, let alone a large-scale one, of the extermination of a group of people of any size. Aside from psychopathic personalities, human beings (including soldiers) have consciences and feelings. They have the capacity to feel guilty for their actions. Whether by mass movement, or by a state-run propaganda campaign, it is dehumanization and/or demonization of the enemy which gives the best possible motivation to carry out the horrendous acts associated with torture, war, politicide, and genocide. After all, it is easier to kill an animal or vermin; to engage in a holy war against a demon or devil, then to kill a fellow human being. Dehumanization and demonization are key components to a successful killing campaign, without which, the world could find the key to the prevention of a lot of unnecessary conflicts. If people, especially leaders, would cease using these tactics, then the world would be able to see a lot less violence.

 

Methods to the Madness

            In the game of clue, a player might solve the murder by concluding that "Mrs. Peacock did it with a candlestick in the study," but in reality when we solve a crime we look not only for hard evidence, but for motivations. In many popular modern television shows, when solving for "who dunnit," the characters factor in who would have the best motivations for committing the crime. Why would we do any less when the international community faces a crisis such as genocide? It's painfully obvious that Hutus killed Tutsis in Rwanda with machetes. However, without understanding why, we can't prevent these types of atrocities from reoccurring. What were the Hutus' motivations? Why did the Nazis kill so many Jewish people? These questions could easily be answered by saying that the Tutsis were killed because they were oppressors of the Hutus during colonialism, or that the Jews were the reason that the Germans lost WWI. These are not satisfying answers, however. If the two parties waged a war with one another, these reasons may be logically motivating. Mere facts alone, however, are not enough to motivate even a soldier to kill another human being. "The approach of necessity must stir deep emotions of hate and revulsion against the enemy...This can be accomplished only by...dramatization..." [4] Writing during the second world war, Leonard Still, the psychiatrist making those claims, was referencing the process of dramatizing the virtues of the Allied powers while stressing the degenerate qualities of the Axis countries. Even to kill in a just war, it is necessary to dehumanize the enemy in order to justify killing "it."  

 

Rationality

            Human beings are reasoning creatures. Just like solving x to find y, we need to solve "why" to find x. X may be murder, rape, torture, or even name-calling. According to Preez, "There is a rationality of genocide just as there is a rationality of business or athletics, or war or science." [5] Various forms of rationality have a history rooted in activities within which problems are constituted and solutions are found. Genocidal solutions have strong roots; they don't appear overnight. In I Samuel, 15:3 of the Old Testament, "Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not, but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass." [6] Anyone who has ever read the Bible or picked up a history book knows that Jews have been picked on quite a lot. The Crusades started with pogroms against the Jews and ended with the massacre of Muslims. In 1492, the same year that Columbus was sailing the ocean blue, the Spanish rulers had ordered all of the Jews that had not yet converted to Christianity to be expelled. Prior to this, in 1480, Isabella and Ferdinand had instituted the Inquisition in Spain, which was aimed at Jews, Muslims, heretics, and mystics. The Pope had honored them with the title "the Catholics" for their efforts at religious purification. [7] The logic behind the colonization and subsequent decimation of many indigenous peoples was the belief in spreading civilization to the "barbaric" parts of the world. Often, it seems that people are destroyed with "good intentions." Governments may argue that they only wish to control population growth and to stimulate the economy. They seem quite often to fail at using the correct methods to achieve their goals. [8] Even in hindsight, it is wondered whether or not other methods would have permitted such quick acquisition of these lands. Soldiers worldwide are often uneducated and lack refined reasoning abilities. They are often unprepared to evaluate foreign policy on their own. Some are not even fully developed physically, let alone mentally, when conscripted into military service. [9] This lack of reasoning abilities may make it more difficult to accurately rationalize motivation for a "just" war or cause. They may simply prefer to do as they are told.

 

Propaganda & the Media

            Jews and Muslims, though seemingly easy targets, haven't been the only victims of discriminatory violence. A contemporary list of targets would include homosexuals, immigrants, and doctors that perform abortions. In America, ethnic Japanese have been targeted, labor organizers, and of course blacks. Some of the discriminatory movements arise out of racism, religious fanaticism, and other motives become violent, while others not. They span a wide range; from genocide, terrorist acts, state terror, mob violence, and soccer riots to protests, demonstrations, vandalism, religious dogma and political agendas. Demonizing propaganda is heard at local football games, in churches, on sit-coms, and discussed at local barbecues. Anti-whatever-you-don't-like-now movements are often characterized by dehumanization. Whether falsely charged or genuine witches, in Salem Massachusetts in the 1500s, many were burned at the stake. Regular people were demonized for often no reason other than a sort of hysteria. All sorts of groups or individuals are demonized now in a modern-day witch hunt for the perverse or unholy.

            During WWI, the U.S. Army had recruiting posters portraying the German threat as a marauding gorilla with a bloodied club holding a half-ravished woman slung over its shoulder. In bold letters it reads, "Destroy This Mad Brute." [10] For WWII, Germany offered its artistic touch to propaganda with a poster of a skeletal soldier of the Red Army propped upon a globe with the Jewish Star of David and engulfed in flames. This reads, "Bolshevism without a mask," and references some sort of Jewish-Bolshevik conspiracy. An American political cartoon, (not government-sponsored), inquires, "What would Mohammed drive?" The response is the caricature of a man dressed in traditional Moslem garb driving a rental truck with a missile hanging out the back. [11] Hollywood even jumped on the bandwagon with films such as, "Beast of Berlin." and "To Hell with the Kaiser." In a movie by D.W. Griffiths, "Hearts of the World," Germans are depicted launching babies out of windows. Whether justified or not, these images stay with viewers, and it influences their opinions of the adversaries negatively.

            Sometimes propagandist rumors can spread news of fake atrocities, such as those preceding, and justifying the Spanish-American War. Alleged Spanish atrocities that probably never happened were published in newspapers, which then landed in the laps of constituents who were more than willing to support the unjust war. These things has set a standard, or pattern for embellished or phony American wartime propaganda. [12] Emphasizing voices of political demagogues in the media, especially through the radio and television venues, can inflame feelings of fear and anger. These sentiments can lead to invidious distinctions between in-groups and out-groups. " Such inflammatory reporting often fuels the escalation spiral and adds to the destructiveness of conflict." [13] Education can be highly ethnocentric and can be heavily influenced by propaganda and inflammatory media. Soldiers, and populations on the whole are often led into wars by campaigns of misinformation and propaganda, for which they often have little defense against.

            Many governments are not helpful in this regard. During WWI, the United States created a propaganda office which promoted certain media materials appropriate to their cause. Just in February of 2002, there was talk of opening a new propaganda office under the Orwellian-like title, Office of Strategic Influence. [14] Although the Pentagon has been occupied with psychological operations such as dropping leaflets and utilizing radio broadcasts to undermine the enemy's morale, the newly proposed "black propaganda" was forbidden. This would allow the office to covertly plant disinformation in foreign media, which could then be picked up by domestic sources. Although this idea was raised and abandoned with little fanfare, it poses the possibility of propaganda campaigns in contemporary times that can alter the perception of constituents through demonizing or dehumanizing fabrications.

 

Us v. Them     

            In wartime, "we" and "they" are qualitatively different. Subhumanization emerges when this separation is so large, that the "other" might as well be of a different species. A mirror image of dehumanization is nationalism, which can be mistaken for patriotism. Nationalism, especially during a conflict, distorts reality. It can highlight the actions of the party while characterizing the enemies as inferior beings. The fact is that each side feels superior. They are more worthy. Minor differences are dramatized and turned into major divisions. "Their" customs, language, culture, traditions, religion, etc. are all very different from "ours." [15] This is evident by the Balkan conflict. To any outsider, there's not much distinction between a Croat or a Serb or a Bosnian. However, by exaggerating seemingly insignificant differences, in-group sentiments can turn into vehement hate towards the out-groups, successfully intensifying the conflict.

            Behavior is a product of social situations. If you take a few people who have never met before and give them even a minimal context, given a short period of time, they will form groups. [16] During the summer of 1954, an experiment was conducted called the Robbers Cave Experiment, named for the location in the mountains. Two sets of twelve year old boys whom were similar in many ways were brought separately to the campsite, and were unaware of each other for several days. The groups engaged in bonding activities and quickly developed "we" feelings. Once the groups became aware of one another, however, they began to develop hostile attitudes towards each other. The offer of rewards for the winning team of a series of competitions escalated hostilities. By the end of the tournament the groups were sworn enemies. [17]

 

Justification

            Unfortunately, the Jews were driven to death camps to be burned in crematoriums or gassed via "red cross" supply trucks; [18] the Tutsis were hacked apart with machetes- men, women, and children alike. Dehumanizing and demonizing an enemy makes it justifiable to not only murder combatants, but non-combatants as well. [19] In judging the fighters in a war, or the participants of violent actions, we often don't take into consideration the justifications of their actions. Although it is easy enough to say that violence is never justifiable, many soldiers are acting on behalf of loyalty to their country or leaders. They are often the executioners, not the ones ordering the execution. [20] The dealers of death most likely believe their causes are just.

            Dehumanizing an enemy makes it easier to kill an enemy. It removes certain psychological barriers and helps the perpetrator cope with their action. [21] It provides the soldier protection from psychological damage, like a helmet protecting his brain from external drama. People who have grown up in racial or sexist societies find it difficult to transcend the conventional standards of their time. [22]They have been de-sensitized from a young age to hatred or dislike of other groups. Even very well-educated people find it hard to shake off these stereotypes and wonder how in hindsight they could have been so patronizing and thoughtless.

            Dehumanization of the enemy can also lead the perpetrator to go too far. It can erase the distinctions between who is an ally or innocent and who is the enemy. Even while dehumanizing another, during war, soldiers dehumanize themselves. They realize that they are expendable, and this can make it easier to kill the enemy, whom is even more expendable. They may come to see just one life, their own included, as insignificant in the grand scheme of things. [23] People may believe that people become victims based on the "just-world theory" that people will get what they deserve.

            Justification can come by way of a legal precedent. Before the Jews were rounded up and deported to concentration camps, there were several laws passed that stripped them of many rights. At first, discriminatory recommendations were directed at non-German Jews. Alarm bells would not ring until later on. The first major law of April 7, 1933, was the "Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service." What sounds like promoting positive reform actually stripped Jews and other "politically unreliable" people of the right to work as civil servants. Following this was the restriction on the number of Jewish students permissible at Aryan schools and universities. The infamous 1935 Nuremberg Laws deprived Jews of their voting rights and citizenship, in addition to making it illegal for them to inter-marry or even have sexual intercourse with non-Jews. [24]In 1937 and 1938, the "Aryanization" of Jewish businesses came underway, stripping the Jewish people of their ownership rights. After the "Night of Broken Glass," pogrom in the fall of 1938, Nazis barred the Jews from all public schools, cinemas, and sports facilities. Jewish doctors were no longer permitted to treat Aryan patients and identification cards were established to make Jews more easily recognizable, marked by the letter "J."

 

The Means to an End

            The idea to starve the Ukrainians during an artificial famine or to purge tens of millions of real or imagined political opponents of Stalin's may have come out of a loose definition for what were actually "enemies of the Soviet state." The means for punishing these "enemies" for the kulaks, Chechens, and countless of other groups and individuals throughout the Soviet Union were deportation and slave labor in prison and labor camps scattered throughout the territories and satellite states. For the Ukrainians, the means were imposed collective farming and grain confiscation. All the means are tactics of dehumanization and demonization of the enemy, whoever the "enemy" might so happen to be. Often, the populations at large do not approve of the slaughtering of these people. They disbelieve their leaders would have anything to do with it. When the extremities of the Nazi party were noticed, the answer among many people was that Hitler did not know what was going on. During the Great Purges of the Soviet Union, there was a similar sentiment, "If only someone would let Stalin know what was happening." [25]

 

Hitler and Stalin

            Writing a paper about dehumanization would not be complete without addressing the two most notorious figures of the WWII era; Hitler and Stalin. Watching a documentary about the Holocaust shows views of horrific images. Heaps of corpses, so great in number it requires a bulldozer; heavy construction machinery, just to plow the heap into massive graves. Depictions such as these send shivers down people's spines. Hitler becomes the avatar of evil; an anti-Christ; the epitome of all that is unholy. Hitler, it can be said, is responsible for the deaths of more than five million Jews, Roma, degenerates, and anyone else considered unworthy of living in the Reich. Stalin, Hitler's counterpart in Russia, was responsible for the deaths of tens of millions more people than Hitler had claimed. It is often wondered why Stalin's crimes against his own people (and especially of Ukrainians in the 1930s) was, if not ignored by the Western world, at least greatly marginalized. Although it is said that the Nazi as well as the Stalin regimes had objective enemies-that is enemies that changed depending on the prevailing circumstances- [26] it can be argued that much is the same for the West, and their motives to befriend "the devil himself," in order to defeat the Nazis.

            Ambiguous enemies are one way to take control in a totalitarian regime. It offers the leeway to switch allies quickly and to make objective criteria for "enemies of the state," almost as a whim. On Hitler's "hit list" initially were the crippled and the retarded. This list later included the Gypsies, homosexuals, and of course, the Jews. In the Soviet Union, the victims were supporters of the old regime initially. This too evolved to include not only political opponents, but particular national groups and ethnicities as well. [27] Swinging a massive movement towards a government's particular cause is not impossible in a democracy, but it's all too easy in a totalitarian regime. The creation of concentration camps, for example, was actually the final stage in a long process of dehumanization of these objective enemies. "Enemies" of the state were not only falsely accused of being agents to foreign powers, but they were classified as vermin and poisonous weeds; they were subhuman. The very existence of Jews was viewed as a threat to the Aryan race. They are nonhuman; they are anti-human. [28] Nazis propagandized the inhuman characteristics of the Jews, and once demonized, the legal isolation of the enemy could begin in earnest.

 

Nazi Concentration Camps: The Kommando

            People in the labor camps were humiliated, deloused and walking around naked all day. These were the ones destined for harsh working conditions. If they become useless they wound up in the gas chambers or the crematoria, but not as long as they were economic assets to the Reich. Canada was the term used to designate those members of the labor gang, or kommando who helped to unload the incoming transports of people destined for the gas chambers. When a transport came, they greeted terror-stricken people who traveled cramped and crushed, crying for water and inquiring what would become of them. The people got off the trains with lots of luggage and crates, meaning to start a new life in the camps." [29] Many did not initially know what their true fate would be. It is the camp law: people going to their death must be deceived to the very end. This is the only permissible form of charity." [30] People were ushered onto trucks lined up, ready to scurry off to the crematoria and gas chambers. To add to the illusion, a Red Cross van might be there, driving back and forth, ironically carrying the gas that would kill the people. Men healthy and young enough to work, left on foot to the camp where their labor was exploited until they were finally were sent to their deaths as well. Some women were spared as well. Many of these were experimented on; artificially inseminated and/or injected with viral or bacterial infections. Canada had the job of unloading people, luggage, and the corpses of dead babies. They loaded the corpses onto the same trucks as invalids and the unconscious to be burned alive. Working there was exhaustive, both emotionally and physically. The prisoners did not enjoy their work. They were forced to usher people to their deaths. Sometimes they would see people they know and vainly try to convince them they were going to be taking a bath before rejoining them at the camps. Many of the Jews were eager to work. They were tired of being hauled around like cattle in stuffy train cars with not enough room to stoop down to relax their legs. All the food these people in the cattle cars had brought with them went to feed the people at the camps, including those that helped the Germans load them onto the trucks. The gold would go to the Reich, further funding their destructive conquests of extermination. Four and a half million people were recorded in the journals of people being sent to the crematoria; the greatest victory of one strong, united Germany: "Ein Reich, ein volk, ein Fuhrer-and four crematoria." [31]

 

Soviet-Style Concentration Camps

            Soviet labor and prison camps took root in Czarist Russia. Prisoners under the Czarist system were sent to forced labor camps in the eighteenth century. They mined, built roads, factories, ships, and the modern European city of St. Petersburg. Applebaum explains different motivations between the Gulags of Lenin or Stalin and the Gulag system of the Czars. The Czarist exile system and the Gulagwere both economic endeavors, in addition to housing criminals and political dissidents. People were exiled to the far reaches of the continent to populate it as well as to exploit the resources there. Even non-criminals were sent away.

            In the early twentieth century, political prisoners, such as the Bolsheviks were often exiled into Siberia, and sent into the Czarist prisons there. Unlike other criminals, they were well-fed, and warm in their fur coats and boots. Applebaum demonstrates the niceties of the Peter and Paul Fortress by describing a picture of Trotsky wearing spectacles, in a suit and tie with a very white collar in front of one of the peepholes, later used in the Soviet prisons. [32] Stalin, who was exiled four times and escaped three times, would describe the Czarists regime as toothless. The Bolsheviks experience in Siberia gave them lessons on the need for an "exceptionally strong punitive regime." The first Soviet camps came in the aftermath of the October Revolution. Lenin used industrialized methods of incarceration, where "enemies of the people" were sent in droves to be locked up. Many were stripped naked, forced to face a wall, and shot. The Gulag, or Main Camp Administration, came not only to be the administration of concentration camps of "undesirable elements," but also to represent Soviet repression in the form of the administration of slave labor. Stalin, like the Czars before him, used the Gulag system as an economical tool. He used forced labor to speed up the process of industrialization, and to extract natural resources in Soviet's northern regions. [33] By the end of the 1930s, (helped along by Stalin's great purges of 1937 and 1938), there were camps in all twelve time zones of the Soviet Union.

            "Within the camps, the process of dehumanization deepened and grew more extreme, helping both to intimidate the victims and to reinforce the victimizers' belief in the legitimacy of what they were doing." [34]Often they weren't just killed, but they were beaten, stripped naked, humiliated, and generally treated like animals, even before being executed, "To condition those who actually had to carry out the policies. To make it possible for them to do what they did." [35]  The prisoners were tortured, interrogated, then tortured some more. They were threatened with death on a daily basis, worked sometimes literally to death, and forced to stay awake under large, bright lights. They were underfed and not well cared for medically. Their privacy was forfeited with the constant watchful eyes peering into the peephole in each prison cell. In the prison camps, often during the interrogation process prisoners were not allowed any contact with each other. Prisoners were reduced to a number; stripped of their identity and dehumanized.

            Unlike the Nazis, who had a more definitive definition of undesirables that would wind up in concentration camps, for the Soviet Union, the term "enemy" was more ambiguous. "While millions of Soviet prisoners feared they might die-and millions did-there was no single category of prisoner whose death was absolutely guaranteed." [36] Some prisoners were prevented from killing themselves, and were not killed despite several threats to their lives. In other circumstance, people were killed regularly, as a sport for bored guards. That is, if they didn't die in the harsh labor camp conditions first.Sometimes those arrested never made it to the concentration camps. "...they were driven to a forest at night, lined up, shot in the skull, and buried in mass graves." [37]

            Stalin did not dream up the idea of a Gulag archipelago overnight. The Bolsheviks rose up and defeated the "Whites" of the Czarist army. Stalin wanted to ensure not only his successive rise to the top, but wanted to prolong his stay there. He felt that the only way to properly accomplish his goals was to make his prison system as brutal as it was. To carry out the tasks of the Stalin regime, it was not necessary to empty the lunatic asylums to recruit the people with the proper mindset to do the things that they did. Most people will obey even the most outrageous instructions once they have accepted an authority. [38] Stalin was such an authority. He was voted into his position by the people's political bureau. He was the "vanguard of the proletariat." He was the savior of the people from the Nazi invasion of WWII. Once people accept an authority as legitimate, by whatever means, it is easy to accept the government's judgment. "Once our government leaders and authorities condemn the dangerous elements in our society, it will be the duty of every patriotic citizen to help stamp out the rot that is poisoning our country from within." [39]

 

America in the War on Terror

            Whether the war is just or not, soldiers have a tendency to dehumanize.

"According to a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, 'You just sort of try to block out the fact that they're human beings and see them as enemies...You call them hajis...You do all the things that make it easier to deal with killing them and mistreating them.'" [40]

The problem with the US soldiers' conceptions' of the enemy is that by dehumanizing the enemy, there is a risk of these conceptions spilling over to other groups, such as POWs or non-combatants. Some soldiers in Iraq have found themselves to be blurring the distinction between different groups of people. They have endangered and mistreated groups that they were charged with protecting. Some US military personnel have been duly charged with extra-combat killings and prisoner abuse. [41] The idea that the enemy is subhuman can be a catalyst for, as well as a result of, the environment. It is not clear whether in fact dehumanization of the enemy causes violent acts to occur or if being engaged in violence acts can cause the justified dehumanization of the enemy. This is particularly uncertain in times of war. Furthermore, when the enemy is dehumanized, it can make it easier for a soldier to violate jus in Bello, or the Geneva conventionsjust as some American soldiers in Iraq have been accused of.

            When fighters are taken as prisoners of war, the dehumanization caricature they once possessed may begin to fade in the eyes of those holding them in captivity. An enemy soldier may be seen as frightfully similar to the captors. In other cases, the prisoner may be disregarded as inferior. This was never more apparent when the world was shocked by the sadistic abuse and sexual humiliations of Iraqi prisoners held at Abu Ghraib, a prison near Baghdad. Photographs surfaced showing the American soldiers had forced one of the prisoners to stand on top of a box, with his head covered and hands bound with wire. He was told that is he moved, or fell off the box that he would be electrocuted. [42] Also, depicted in photographs, were shots of prisoners stacked in a pyramid or placed in humiliating positions that suggested they were having sex with each other. All this came by the liberators, who when came upon the prison initially, were stunned to find electrodes protruding from the walls and that bodies of people had been eaten by dogs.

            Post traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a common ailment for many American soldiers coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan. It is common for the ex-combatant as well as for the ex-victim. It can be argued that the practice of dehumanization is psychologically debilitating. The veteran's treatment may require some sort of reversal in their attitude towards the enemy, posthumously. [43] They must give their enemy some sort of humanity; the humanity that was taken away from them by the perpetrator. Whether the kill is just or not, it is often helpful to revere the victim; to have a moment of silence, to say a prayer. These things can be healing for the mind that has been exposed to the damaging effects of a war zone. Respecting one's enemy may actually be beneficial for all parties.

 

Nonhumanization

            "In order to fight at close range one must deny the humanity of one's enemy." [44] Killing someone from a distance is much easier to cope with. Stabbing someone is more difficult that shooting someone, or dropping a bomb on them from far away. No one had to look at the faces of the Japanese people in Hiroshima or Nagasaki when atomic bombs were dropped from airplanes 30,000 feet in the sky. [45] The act of killing becomes easier with increasing emotional and physical distance. With today's technological and sophisticated militaries, enemies are becoming little dots on radar; coordinated targets; push-pins. They are neither evil nor human, but nonhuman. They are devoid of inherent worth. They are killed with indirect trajectory artillery. Combatants cannot come to terms with the deaths of such faraway victims. "The greater the effortlessness of war, the greater the motive to conduct it..." [46] Close your eyes, pull the trigger, and you shall see no more. When there aren't any dead babies, when there is no stench of rotting corpses, when the distance is too great to hear the screams of the dieing, it is easy to ignore; out of sight, out of mind. 

 

Re-Humanizing

            Lifting the veil of dehumanization and demonization can greatly increase the odds of de-escalating a conflict, or even of conflict prevention. Rather than seeing another party as evil and as one who enjoys inflicting suffering, the adversary can be seen as a fellow human being who also suffers from the conflict, and who can be accepted as part of the same moral community. [47] Conflict resolution cannot begin until the parties involved recognize the collective right for the other parties to exist. The process of recognizing the common humanity of one's opponents, or humanization, makes it more difficult to justify the use of heavy violence or aggression. [48]

            Social education and peace media strategies can help to balance out the voices of extremists. Schools and communities have the capacity to promote cooperation and offer seminars that address the problems of ethnocentrism, prejudice, and the subsequent violent acts as part of the dehumanization process. The parties, and even outside interveners can assist by reducing inaccurate perceptions, stereotypes, and enemy images through workshops, personal therapy, and "rumor control." With the introduction of the humanization processes, the adversaries can recognize one another's legitimacy and come to a state of mutual acceptance. [49] Perceived similarity and common group membership with the adversary is important to reduce the “us-them” line of thought. Recognizing commonalities is an effective way to combat polarization that can arise out of the dehumanization process.

            Restoring humanity to an enemy not only makes it less likely to kill them, but making an enemy appear to be worthy is a "noble kill." Honoring a fallen foe can actually have a positive effect on the conscience of the killer. [50] Furthermore, when a soldier gets to know the enemy, they become more human. They aren't the demonic entity that flouts the sacraments, waving a gun around, waiting to be put out of their indecent misery; they have a spouse and children. They care for people, and people care for them. The image of an enemy held by a "reasonable man" may be one where the enemy is a decent man, but perhaps "temporarily misguided by false doctrines or forced to make war against his better will and desire." [51]



[1] Michelle Maiese. "Dehumanization," (July 2003) 9 Dec. 2007. <http://www.beyondintractabilit.org/essay/dehumanization>

[2] Michael W. Brough, "Dehumanization of the Enemy and the Moral Equality of Soldiers," ­Rethinking the Just War Tradition­, (Albany, 2007):151

[3] Michael S. James, "Demonizing the Enemy:a Hallmark of War," ­ABC News, (29 Jan. 2003) 1 Oct. 2007. <http://abcnews.go.com/International/story?id=79071>

[4] Michael W. Brough: 152.

[5] Peter du Preez: 3.

[6] Peter du Preez: 4.

[7] Jone Johnson Lewis, "Isabella I of Spain," ­About, Inc., (2007) 9 Dec. 2007. <http:womenshistory.about.com/cs/medrenqueen/p/p_isabella_i.htm>

[8] Peter du Preez: 9.

[9] Michael W. Brough, : 150.

[10] Michael S. James.

[11] Michael S. James.

[12] Michael S. James.

[13] Michelle Maiese, "Limiting Escalation/De-Escalation," (Jan. 2004) 6 Dec. 2007. <http://www.beyondintractability.org/essay/limiting_escalation>

[14] Tom Carver, "Pentagon plans Propaganda Office," (20 Feb. 2002) 10 Dec. 2007. <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/1830500.stm>

[15] Michael W. Brough: 156.

[16] Peter du Preez: 91.

[17] Dean G, Pruitt and Sung Hee Kim, ­Social Conflict: Escalation, Stalemate, and Settlement, (New York, 2004) 28.

[18] Tadeusz Borowski, This Way for the Gas Ladies and Gentlemen, (New York, 1967): 18.

[19] Peter du Preez, Genocide The Psychology of Mass Murder, (New York, 2003): 10.

[20] Michael W. Brough: 150.

[21] Michael W. Brough: 153.

[22] Peter du Preez: 87.

[23] Michael W. Brough: 158.

[24] "Anti-Jewish Legislation in Prewar Germany," (25 Oct. 2007) 10 Dec. 2007. <http://www.ushmm.org>

[25] Peter du Preez: 88.

[26] Anne Applebaum. ­Gulag A History, (Great Britain, 2003): xxxvi.

[27] Anne Applebaum: xxxvi.

[28] Peter du Preez: 3.

[29] Tadeusz Borowski

[30] Tadeusz Borowski

[31] Tadeusz Borowski

[32] Anne Applebaum: xxii.

[33] Anne Applebaum: xvi.

[34] Anne Applebaum: xxxvii.

[35] Anne Applebaum: xxxvii.

[36] Anne Applebaum: xxxviii

[37] Anne Applebaum: xxxix.

[38] Peter du Preez: 91.

[39] Peter du Preez: 91.

[40] Michael W. Brough: 152.

[41] Michael W. Brough: 154.

[42] "Abuse of Iraqi POWs by GIs Probed," (28 April 2004). 7 Dec. 2007. <http//www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/04/27/60II/main614063.shtml>

[43] Michael W. Borough: 155.

[44] Michael W. Borough: 157.

[45] Matthew Davis, "The Men Who Bombed Hiroshima," (4 Aug. 2007) 9 Dec. 2007. <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/4718579.stm>

[46] Michael W. borough: 162.

[47] Dean G, Pruitt and Sung Hee Kim

[48] Michelle Maiese.

[49] Michelle Maiese.

[50] Michael W. Borough: 156.

[51] Michael W. Borough: 157.

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