As long as animals are “Other,” fellow humans can be “Othered.”

 

‘Look back at some of the most tragic episodes in human history and you will find words and images that stripped people of their basic human traits. In the Nazi era, the film The Eternal Jew depicted Jews as rats. During the Rwandan genocide, Hutu officials called Tutsis “cockroaches” that needed to be cleared out.

In the wake of World War II, psychologists wanted to understand how the genocide had happened. And we got Stanley Milgram’s infamous electroshock experiment, which showed how quickly people cave to authority. There was also Philip Zimbardo’s “prison experiment,” which showed how easily people in positions of power can abuse others. 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.’

[Via]

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