Dehumanization isn’t a way of talking. It’s a way of thinking-a way of thinking that, sadly, comes all too easily to us. Dehumanization is a scourge, and has been so for millennia. It acts as a psychological lubricant, dissolving our inhibitions and inflaming our destructive passions. As such, it empowers us to perform acts that would, under other circumstances, be unthinkable.

To understand how that astounding moral blindness was possible, it is helpful to think of the workers of an armament plant who rejoice in the ‘stay of execution’ of their factory thanks to big new orders, while at the same time honestly bewailing the massacres visited upon each other by Ethiopians and Eritreans; or to think how it is possible that the ‘fall in commodity prices’ may be universally welcomed as good news while ‘starvation of African children’ is equally universally, and sincerely, lamented.

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