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“Not every being with a human face is human”– Nazi Propaganda
Human beings are intolerant, by nature. In others, they have always looked deeper beneath the skin for reasons to spread hatred and malevolence. Finding these ‘others’ is an essential element for the fascist ideology to conceive and flourish.
History shows us that the privileged elite class of a society has always identified a certain group of people as the others. These others, according to the oppressors, are less human (subhuman-like parasites, vermins) or more than human (superhuman-like aliens, beasts).
For example, anti-Semitic propagandists have portrayed Jews as belonging to an alien species. This in turn led to their belief that Jews cannot be humans, should be tamed like beasts and their extermination will only benefit the human species.
‘Dehumanizing’ in Fascism
This form of dehumanizing has been central to Fascist ideologies and its history is replete with such instances of dehumanization, where people have been labelled as the ‘other’ based on their race, religion, or nationality. Some examples are as follows:
Jesus Christ was dehumanized before being crucified to death. He was subjected to cruel and humiliating forms of punishment that denied him even the most basic human dignity.
According to slave owners in the United States, African-American slaves are to be seen as beasts that held no shred of human value. Their unrestrained existence is a grave danger to humanity and so they should be enslaved and treated like animals.
In Nazi Germany, the Jewish people were dehumanized as ‘vermin’ and ‘parasites’ who were a threat to the purity of the German nation.
In Rwanda, the Tutsi people were dehumanized as ‘cockroaches’ who needed to be exterminated.
In essence, Fascism believes in a natural hierarchy, in which its proponents put themselves at the highest rung for being morally superior and pure. And, any other race who is different from them in colour, faith, or nationality can be placed at the lower rungs for being morally inferior and impure.
Fascism also holds the belief that there is nothing that can be done about those who are morally inferior (non-humans). And the only way out is to keep them restrained or enslaved.
Dehumanization in the present day
Dehumanization continues to be a significant problem in many parts of the world today. While the specific groups that are targeted may vary depending on the cultural, political, and economic context, the fundamental process remains the same: individuals or groups are stripped of their humanity and reduced to objects or animals in the eyes of their oppressors.
One of the most notable examples of dehumanization in the present day is the treatment of refugees and migrants around the world. These individuals are often portrayed as criminals, terrorists, or a burden on society, rather than as fellow human beings who are fleeing war, persecution, or poverty.
In Hungary, the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has been accused of using dehumanizing rhetoric to target refugees and migrants. The government has portrayed these individuals as a threat to Hungarian society, using terms like “invaders” and “terrorists” to dehumanize them in the eyes of the public.
This rhetoric has been accompanied by policies that seek to deny refugees and migrants their basic rights and dignity, including the closure of refugee camps and the implementation of harsh border controls.
In Turkey, the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been accused of dehumanizing Kurdish and other minority groups.
The government has used military force to suppress Kurdish separatists, portraying them as terrorists and insurgents who are a threat to Turkish national security.
This dehumanization has been accompanied by a crackdown on dissent, including the imprisonment of journalists and political opponents.
In India, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been accused of using dehumanizing rhetoric to target Muslim and other minority groups.
The government has passed laws that discriminate against these groups, including the Citizenship Amendment Act, which grants citizenship to refugees from certain religious groups but excludes Muslims.
This dehumanization has been accompanied by a rise in communal violence and hate crimes against minorities.
To be continued