Who We Humanize and Who We Dehumanize

Glenn GreenwaldThe US media just got done deluging the American public with mournful stories about the Jordanian soldier, Moaz al-Kasasbeh, making him a household name. As is often the case for victims of America’s adversaries, the victim is intensely humanized. The public learns all sorts of details about their lives, hears from their grieving family members, wallows in the tragedy of their death.

By stark contrast, I’d be willing to bet that the name “Mohammed Tuaiman al-Jahmi” is never uttered on mainstream American television. Most Americans, by design, will have no idea that their government just burned a 13-year-old boy to death and then claimed he was a terrorist. If they do know, the boy will be kept hidden, dehumanized, nameless, without the aspirations or dreams or grieving parents on display for victims of America’s adversaries (just as Americans were swamped with stories about an Iranian-American journalist detained in Iran for two months, Roxana Saberi, while having no idea that their own government imprisoned an Al Jazeera photojournalist, Sami al-Haj, in Guantanamo for seven years without charges)…

It’s worth considering the extreme propaganda impact that disparity has, the way in which the US media is so eagerly complicit in sustaining ongoing American militarism and violence by disappearing victims of US violence while endlessly heralding the victims of its adversaries.

—Glenn Greenwald
The US Media and the 13-Year-Old Yemeni Boy Burned to Death Last Month by a US Drone

2 thoughts on “Who We Humanize and Who We Dehumanize

  1. Sorry for one more comment . . . but, dangit, Greenwald is on fire right now. He’s doing such wonderful work.

    We weren’t there for the birth of American anti-Native racism, which has lasted for hundreds of years. We weren’t there for the birth of American anti-African racism, which has lasted for hundreds of years. We’re here now at the birth of American anti-Arab racism, something that could easily last for a very long time unless we abort it in the first few trimesters.

    It is possible to abort it. We had a German scare in WWI and a Japanese scare in WWII, where they were all coming for our daughters. Nobody in America cares if you have German or Japanese heritage now, largely because people spoke up against prejudice and internment camps. Hate crimes are going to happen in an atmosphere like this, we can’t stop that, but we can make it into a debatable thing instead of a consensus. It’s vitally important to speak openly about this today.

    Now, how we undo centuries of racism against people of African or indigenous descent, that I dunno. It’s a tough, tough issue.

    • Yeah, I added Greenwald to the “Daily Reads” section on the right only this morning.

      What I find interesting is that people now look back at WWII and can’t understand why people assumed that immigrants from Japan couldn’t be trusted. But these same people think exactly the same thing about Muslims now. Of course, I hear, “Islam is a choice!” But that’s nonsense. I would be as afraid in this country as an Indian Hindu as an Iranian Siite. Despite what people like Sam Harris claim, it isn’t rational. And in 50 years, I expect everyone to understand that, while their bigotry is expressed in a new way. It’s like the old poll tax that everyone knows now is racist, but somehow they don’t think voter-ID laws are. Astonishing.

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