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De-Humanization of life April 23, 2006

Posted by Administrator in Cultural Pessimism, Liberal Hypocrisy, Mechanistic Relativism, Parenting.

I do not dislike the French from the vulgar antipathy between neighbouring nations, but for their insolent and unfounded airs of superiority—Horace Walpole, 4th earl of Orford (1787)

A Frenchman must be always talking, whether he knows anything of the matter or not; an Englishman is content to say nothing when he has nothing to say—Samuel Johnson (1790)

I have heard some say homosexual practices are allowed in France and other NATO
Countries. We are not French and we are not other nationals. We are British, thank
God!—Viscount Montgomery of Alamein (1965)

Actually, I do not post this to promote some type of fictional "francophobia" that I might have. I use them as illustrations of a pervasive anti-French sentiment that has existed -particularly amongst the English- for centuries.

The reason for this antipathy would seem to be almost self-evident:

Hilberg’s observations apply equally to today’s nuclear age, when destroying one’s “enemy” carries with it the possibility that one may kill most of humankind and devastate the earth in the process. To remove the moral obstacles to such a course, leaders, both political and religious, euphemize killing and the weapons of destruction and dehumanize the potential victims in order to justify their extermination.

Dr. Haig Bosmajian

There we have the basic reason why this dehumanization occurs. Killing is repugnant. Nevermind the Commandments and an "objecive, moral law that no one can touch or prove." Killing is not pleasant. It causes distress in the killer unless he is a sociopath. Veterans of the most moral of wars wrestle for the rest of their lives when they go home. My own grandfather had to kill a Japanese with his knife on a nameless South Pacific beach. He hated doing it, and it troubled him until his death over 45 years later.

Killing causes cognitive dissonance, a fundamental feeling of disorder, when one has information that somehow contradicts previous learning. The dissonance is often lessened by the sufferer somehow rationalizing the new information in such a way as to allow the previous thought patterns to remain intact.

Which brings us back to the discomfort that killing brings in the killer. Taught that killing is bad (or more likely, recognizing on a basic level without teaching that it is repugnant) the killer then rationalizes that in some fashion, it was OK. My grandfather essentially said; "It was either him or me. If I didn't kill him, he certainly would have killed me." Or others may say such things as; "I had nothing against him, but he was fighting for a bad cause."

When killing needs become widespread, such as in war or widespread repression, Bosmajian's words require re-visiting:

To remove the moral obstacles to such a course, leaders, both political and religious, euphemize killing and the weapons of destruction and dehumanize the potential victims in order to justify their extermination.

To de-humanize the potential victims in order to justify the extermination. The English de-humanize the French during the Hundred Years War, so as to better justify the taking of French land the killing of French soldiery.

Or lets look at a more contemporary example:

By dehumanizing Jews, the Nazi leaders began to prepare for Hitler’s “Final Solution.” The Nazi leaders knew that when the deportations began it would be much easier for the German people to watch friends and neighbors shipped away if they associated them with rats or with age-old stereotypes about cheating with money. The propaganda was able to play off the existing racial difficulties in Germany has well as to enhance the original nationalistic pride of the German people that they were somehow chosen or holy. Anti-Semitic propaganda was common in wartime Germany, and often depicted Jews in league with communists or another hated group causing harm to Germans.

To soften the beachhead of German moral thought (Germany being a highly moral culture), Hitler and the Nazis systematically de-sensitized the German people to the humanity of the Jews, as well as the Gypsies, Catholics, Russians, English and anyone else who stood in the way. By removing the fundamental armor of the humanity of the Jews, any atrocity against them became acceptable; little different than looking at them as cattle, and culling out the defectives so that the overall herd might be strengthened.

One of the principal means through which the perpetrator will attempt to clear his conscience is by clothing his victim in a mantle of evil, by portraying the victim as an object that must be destroyed. (Link)

The Nazis of course are an obvious example; almost excessive to the point or comic if it weren't so tragic. The French and English might appear to be a tad less obvious, but the reality of the dehumanization is there all the same. And there are so many other examples:

  • Americans and Native Americans. General Sherman to General Sheridan: "it would be wise to invite all the sportsmen of England and America… for a Grand Buffalo Hunt, and make one grand sweep of them all." Where here the Buffalo are a metaphor for the Native Americans
  • Militant Islam and the West (Find your own examples, they are everywhere)
  • Current Democratic and Republican party rhetoric (again, find your own examples, they are everywhere).
  • Materialistic atheism and the unborn.

Now perhaps this last one may not seem to fit in. But it is the reason I wrote this little exegesis in the first place. I have often wondered at the remarkabl callousness of the abortion lobby towards unborn life. How, with so much evidence in place that abortion itself is murder, can this lobby still pursue it so relentlessly?

OK, maybe I'm dense, but I finally got it fully when reading the following exchange (From Indian Cowboy):

1. The ‘it’s a parasite’ argument. This discussion took place on a blog that deals with evolution day in and day out. You’d expect better from these people. I mean, if you ascribe to evolution, then you kinda have to accept that the ultimate point of sex and well, life, is making babies. To call a baby a parasite when you are evidently an evolution enthusiast just shows you how dogmatic some of these people are.

And there it is. I had never yet seen the fetus described as a parasite, but Indian Cowboy had been involved in a discussion here that suggested that very thing. And the Cowboy (a noted libertarian) said "ridiculous."

Then, PZ Myers (of Pharyngula infamy) responds:

Not at all unreasonable, and actually, fits right in with modern evolutionary theory. The interests of the fetus and the interests of the mother are not entirely coincident. The mother’s evolutionary goal is to produce as many babies as possible; the fetus’s goal is to maximize its fitness, even if it means Mom is too exhausted to have more kids afterwards.


"We must be rid of the Jews, they are subhuman."

"We must eliminate the Native Americans; they are little better than animals."

"We must eliminate the godless Western infidel."

"We must eliminate the French; they have no culture and they smell bad."

We must kill our babies. Until they are born, they are simply the same thing as a tapeworm.

And the MoonBat Left wonders why we of the Pro-Life movement find their morals so repugnant. To reduce a helpless child, one that evolution has programmed us to protect, nurture and care for to the level of a tapeworm is to trod the same ground all the moral equivocators from Julius Caesar on down to Hitler, bin Laden and Stalin have trod in their time.

And so we pave the path of our own destruction. At least those others assaulted aliens. In reducing life to parasitism, we make war upon ourselves.



1. IndianCowboy - April 27, 2006

found this post while stroking my own ego via technorati. Very thoughtful post, methinks.

And i’m flattered that you’d describe me as ‘noted’.

2. demolition65 - April 27, 2006

Coming from one as thoughtfull as yourself, I find that to be high praise indeed. Thank you!

3. Dana - August 2, 2006

Very thoughtful post. I’ve been wrestling with similar issues recently. The “ideal” of moral relativism seems to be giving way to something else…and maybe it is only in the conversations I track on the web. But instead of “your truth isn’t my truth” and “don’t impose your morality” I’m seeing more and more reference to religion being the root of all evil. From Sam Harris’ new book, to Bill Maher’s take on Mel Gibson.

4. De-Humanizing Ourselves - Roscommon Acres - May 22, 2017

[…] For an excellent essay on the de-humanization of ourselves, check out demolition65’s entry on De-Humanization of Life. […]

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