I have learned a lot about how dehumanization works in the last 8 years. One of the most heart piercing lessons for me is that dehumanization is not only suggesting people to be targets of violence to those already prone to violence. It does that. But not only that.
Dehumanization is a process in which even well intentioned people are convinced that those in another group are a threat, and that violence against them is necessary and even good. Thus they stand by in silence while policies and structures do violence to people. They stand by when those prone to violence do violence to people. They even begin to act out that violence themselves.
Dehumanization targets people who want to protect what they love. Turning that narrow love in to a tool for violence.
The US House of Representatives recently renamed a committee that deals with treaties between the US Government and Tribal Governments. They renamed it as the “Subcommittee for Indian and Insular Affairs.” The word “indian” is a colonizer term. The word “insular” means parochial and of minor consequence. This name is a small part of a larger effort to continue the dehumanization of indigenous peoples on this continent.
Thinking back over the last decade, we can see many examples of groups targeted through dehumanization. Americans of Muslim, Jewish, recent immigrant, Asian, Black, Spanish speaking, Catholics, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints have all been the dehumanization de jour in our country. In all of these cases, dehumanization led to violence. In most of these cases, the violence was built on centuries of injury, separation, and bigotry.
Today we are seeing dehumanizing language about LGBTQIA – especially about the Trans community. This is leading to increased violence toward the Trans and LGBTQIA communities.
Dehumanization toward one group increases a dangerous dynamic which makes all of us less safe, less free, less willing to connect to others.
Just because it doesn’t focus on you today, doesn’t mean it doesn’t concern you.
In fact, when it isn’t focused on you, you are most needed. When groups stand with each other to resist the dynamic of dehumanization we increase peace, freedom, and the power to connect.
If the dehumanization de jour isn’t focused on you, it’s time for you to act – not just for others, but for all of us.