Dehumanizing People to… Skittles?

The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that is wrong with the world.” -Dr Paul Farmer

Dehumanization is a common theme in warfare. It draws lines in our world between “us” and “them” by making the opponents less human. In World War II, dehumanization was a powerful tool in propaganda, leading to Soviet propaganda depicted Germans as “ravening beasts”, Anti-Jew propaganda had enlarged facial features and caricatures to represent the Jewish population, and American propaganda depicted Japanese as cartoon “japs”. The process of dehumanization is a war tactic used by society to make killing the “others” an easier pill to swallow. Though dehumanization in our society today is less obvious, and appears in an indirect format that still provokes the same response.

News coverage broadcasting beheadings and storylines detailing social oppression and lack of women’s rights in the Middle East lead to educated individuals, but also leads to Donald Trump Jr. recently comparing refugees to a bowl of skittles. We believe the people in the Middle East are barbarians because of the acts some commit. We rarely use the word people, children, families, when referring to the people fleeing from the war-torn region and use the words insurgents, targets, and even refugees to take away from the importance of life. These are all combat strategies forcing Americans to support actions that otherwise would make us the barbarians. This leads to high rates of PTSD is soldiers because killing people is unnatural. This is not human nature.

These people that were forced to leave their home, their country, and their community, are as real as the next person. The over-exaggeration of potential terrorist hidden as one of these desperate humans leads to widespread fear and racism. In fact,

The chance of being murdered in a terrorist attack caused by a refugee is 1 in 3.64 billion per year (Nowrasteh, 2016)

The terrorist attack in San Bernardino was not committed by a refugee, but rather an American-born man. US policy needs to be more concerned about who is already here, rather than the millions of people who want to seek refuge in America. At the end of the day, we are all human, we all want to feel safe, and we all are equal.