Yes, you read that right: The dehumanizing effect of opposing war. Say what?
A vast amount has been written on the dehumanizing effects of war — essays, commentary, treatises and works of literature many of which deserve to be required reading in every school and college around the world.
Yet the dehumanizing effect of opposing war is a subject on which I haven’t I’ve read a single word.
But how could opposing war be dehumanizing? Isn’t opposition to war one of the most humanitarian of expressions?
Certainly it should be, yet here is where such opposition frequently deviates away from its humanitarian roots: opposition to war morphs into opposition to war makers.
Once the focus becomes the war makers — the governments, the corporate interests, the political lobbies, the opinion makers and so forth — then it becomes possible to view something like the chemical attacks in Damascus as some kind of manufactured event.
Having made that shift, it then becomes that much easier to become emotionally disengaged.
Here’s a small boy struggling for his life:
Do you wonder whether this has been ‘faked’? Are you afraid that the propagation of videos of this type is happening purely for the purposes of political manipulation? Do you think that this kind of suffering reveals something about the barbaric nature of the Middle East? Do you feel that Americans are being coerced into giving attention to an issue that should not involve Americans?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, you might want to consider whether you are suffering from the dehumanizing effect of opposing war.
The other day in response to an op-ed on the chemical attack in Damascus, someone wrote a comment on this site which included this:
I do not think any Western government has any moral standing to say anything about the killing of citizens given its own view on killing its own citizens. I’m appalled by the whole mess and the West’s economic and ideological entanglement and the simpering nonsense feed [sic] to the public by the elite media outlets. I just want to stick my head in the ground and not think or know anything about the snafu that is our Western vision, just now, of international affairs.
There is a disarming level of honesty and sense of frustration in anyone admitting that they would prefer to remain ignorant. But to object to the hypocrisy of Western governments does not require that we prevent ourselves from having a human reaction to the deaths of thousands of innocent people. Just because Barack Obama and David Cameron make sanctimonious statements about the use of chemical weapons being intolerable doesn’t mean that we should do the reverse.
If we do that — if we come to regard the slaughter of thousands as somehow inconsequential — it’s time to ask whether our opposition to war is truly that or whether it’s merely a desire that war not intrude on our lives, eat up our tax dollars, and fill our TV screens.
Has opposition to war been reduced to nothing more than a desire that it would go away?
(The videos in this post came from Joanna Paraszczuk’s latest post at EA WorldView.)