Center for World Indigenous Studies
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Dehumanizing to justify killing

Published: April 9, 2017, Author: Rÿser Rudolph C.

The ability to see other people as less than human occurs as a result of a false sense of superiority that hides a truer sense of inferiority. This is the conclusion of researchers such as Nour Kteily at Northwest University in the United States and and Princeton University’s Susan Fiske. Described as an inherent anxiety about “strangers” harkens deep into human reality extending more than 50,000 years.  We all have this tendency.  At Stanford, Albert Bandura, showed that when participants overhear an experimenter call another study subject “an animal,” they’re more likely to give that subject a painful shock. If you think of murder and torture as universally taboo, then dehumanization of the “other” is a psychological loophole that can justify them. In other words, while most human beings consider the tendency to dehumanize other humans a taboo, many still use dehumanization as a way of absolving individual and mass killing, engaging in genocide, incarcerating of human beings.

This tendency is briefly described in Vox here . 

I give the subject a broader treatment in Intercontinental Cry in my monthly column here I regard the self-regulated tendency of dehumanization a fundamental cause for the willingness of many corporate business and political types to destroy the environment and to spew poisons into the atmosphere, rivers, oceans and soils radically changing the climate–essentially killing humans they don’t know or see. Maybe we should focus on early childhood education learning to humanize instead of dehumanize. 

Chief George Manuel Memorial Indigenous Library

The library is dedicated to the memory of Secwepemc Chief George Manuel (1921-1989), to the nations of the Fourth World and to the elders and generations to come.

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