Friday, September 07, 2007

Dehumanizing the Enemy

"One group denies the humanity of the other group. Members of it are equated with animals, vermin, insects or diseases."
- from The Eight Stages of Genocide described by Gregory H. Stanton, founder of Genocide Watch

"We must kill the Tutsi cockroaches" - Hutu Power Radio
As someone interested in Iranian culture, I'm pretty revolted by this Michael Ramirez cartoon, which depicts the entire country of Iran as a sewer with cockroaches teeming out of it. You know who depicted humans as roaches, Ramirez? The Nazis. The Hutus.

Never mind that there's a thriving secular society in Iran. Never mind that there are millions of good, decent people living in Iran, trying to provide for their families, striving to create a free-er Iran, all while living under a repressive regime. Never mind that some of the most humanistic and life-affirming films I've seen in recent years have come from Iranian directors like Abbas Kiarostami and Bahman Ghobadi. No, to Ramirez, they all just roaches.

If we're ever to survive as a species, we have to stop this primitive urge to classify all of a nation's inhabitants according to the actions and beliefs of their religious leaders and politicians.

As a newspaper operating within the United States, The Columbus Dispatch has the freedom to print whatever it sees fit. And I would avidly defend that right. But when they choose to print vulgar propaganda like this, it does reveal the simplistic nature of the paper’s worldview, as well as the stench of Ramirez’s.

*A version of this post was sent to the Columbus Dispatch and to Ramirez himself

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