Objectification of Human Beings

When I first read and heard about dehumanization of people a few years ago, I thought I knew what that meant, but as time advances, and as I read Night, Slaughter House and the other books for class, my view began to change. I realized that almost every time I read the news on Google, Aljazeera, New York Times, Washington Post etc. I read about a certain number of people who were killed in Iraq, Gaza, Pakistan, Afghanistan. I seriously arrived to the point where I no longer click on these articles and dare not think about them. Today, as I was reading Drew’s post, I realized that hearing about killed people became something normal–that we do not give much (or almost any) attention to. the word killed has lost its horror from our hearts, and we do not even shake our heads with discontentment every time we hear about the atrocities of war. I wondered why such have become the case and I found the answer so simple. With these wars going on, killing is done on daily bases and in order for these countries to justify killing these people; they label them as “militants, militiamen, terrorists…” Labeling people with such terms seems to take away their humanity–as if they were animals (animal organizations would have gone mad and blocked the roads with protests had they been animals). This is what the Nazis had done to the Jews in WWII-and at the time, calling someone a Jew was like labeling someone a ‘militant’ today. In fact, even when civilians (and children) are the victims, the word is not (or quickly) mentioned as if it was okay to commit such ‘mistakes’ (as long as the child is not our own son or daughter).

Suspected U.S. Missile Strike Kills 7 in Pakistan

“The United States has launched more than 30 missile strikes on Al Qaeda and Taliban targets close to the Afghan border since last year, killing many militants,
including some senior ones, but also civilians.”

NATO Kills Senior Afghan Taliban Militant – CBS News

US forces in Iraq kill 12-year-old girl

First, the term ‘militent’ does not, in any way make these people nonhumans, especially that nobody knows their real stories–many of these ‘militants’ consider themselves ‘resistance’ resisting the occupiers of their country–in that case, an entirely new vision must come to view, especially that resisting the occupiers is legal under the Geneva Conventions. (that would be a difficult subject to get into), but the main point remains that ‘militisation’ of people have become a weapon itself–a way to justify the killing of people. Yet, when we say this, the public does not believe that the situation is that bad, believing that only a few ‘terrorists’ are being exterminated. Along these lines, I found this interesting passage in “Night”

“… Without passion, without haste, they slaughtered their prisoners. Each one had to go up to the hole and present his neck. Babies were thrown into the air and the machine gunners used them as targets…. People refused not only to believe his stories, but even to listen to them. “He’s just trying to make us pity him. ( Wiesel, 4).

Interestingly, (horrifyingly), children were being used as objects—as shooting targets, and if such a story is related today (I am sure it happens), nobody would believe it—
This seems to be the case today, people refuse to believe what is going on in these war-zones, believing that time has changed and humanity would not allow anybody to commit such crimes, which reminds me of another passage from Night:

“I told him that I did not believe that they could burn people in our age, that humanity would never tolerate it. … “Humanity? Humanity is not concerned with us. Today anything is allowed. ( Wiesel, 30).

Evidently, humanity is not concerned with the victims of today either. Everything seems to be allowed, torture, and the killing of children as “accidents” and the killing of humans as ‘terrorists or militants.’
Just like in Night, such horrifying crimes have happened during Saddam’s era and they still find collective graves until today, and today, these massacres are happening and we all know about them, but we either excuse these crimes, denouncing the dead as “terrorists, or militants,” or we just never believe them, claiming that inhumane treatments would and could not happen in the 21st century.
Both the articles and Night make me wonder, is it people do not believe such stories because they do not witness them (they happen far away) or is it human nature not to believe such frightening crimes?

”Or even: “Poor fellow. He’s
gone mad. .. . I did not believe him myself. I would often sit with him in the evening after the service, listening to his stories and trying my hardest to understand his ” (Wiesel 5).

Sources:

Suspected U.S. Missile Strike Kills 7 in Pakistan

NATO Kills Senior Afghan Taliban Militant – CBS News

US forces in Iraq kill 12-year-old girlElie Wiesel’s Night

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