First off, if you’ve been here before, I’m sure you’re noticing everything looks a bit different. I’ve changed my template in hopes of making everything a bit cleaner. I like how the pictures fit in the posts a bit better now and the social networking tabs at the top are fun as well. Also, when a new post is up I can set it as “sticky” so as to put it in that top picture bar as well. Another benefit is I have different formats for posts so if I want just an “aside” or “image” post I can do that as well. Unfortunately, I lose my nice big slideshow at the top of the page to showcase some pictures. Also, the original of my background picture isn’t with me so when I changed templates I lost some of the resolution on it for whatever reason meaning I now have to tile it. I hate tiling background pictures but in this specific instance it doesn’t look too bad depending on your monitor resolution size. Overall I think this has a much better feel and cleaner look but please leave your input if you have any opinion either way! I always appreciate some feedback.
Now for the interesting part. As you know, Osama Bin Laden (OBL) has been killed (and if you didn’t know, please invite me over to your house one day. I’ve always wanted to know what a house made out of rock looks like [did I just butcher that joke? Probably]), but to me the reactions are the most interesting part. The two social networks I follow, Facebook and Twitter have blown up with comments and discussions. In fact, Twitter is being identified as where the story first broke. This truly is the age of social networking and instant information. There are downsides of course. For instance, no one really knew the tweet about Osama was true until the President corroborated it. But the upsides to me are the discussions. Specifically on Facebook. My news feed on Facebook blew up with status updates pertaining to the death of OBL. Most reactions were centered around patriotic celebration and attempted witty quips and jokes. However, some were more thought out and insightful. There seemed to be a counter reaction to the celebrating and rejoicing. This was a sentiment I must admit I felt myself.
When I first heard about the killing, I immediately went on my NYT app and read as much as I could about what happened. It was interesting and informative. However, when I jumped on my computer and checked out some video on CNN of all the people in NYC and Washington celebrating in the streets, hanging from light posts and waving flags and pictures of loved ones lost, I had the unexpected reaction of revulsion. The celebrating felt wrong. My first emotion was to believe that we were acting no better than those who killed American soldiers and dragged them through the streets in celebration of their killing the enemy. They also would hang from light posts and wave flags and pictures of lost loved ones. Honestly, OBL deserved worse than death for what he has done. Death seems like the easy way out for him. But to celebrate and chant like we’ve somehow done something great through killing is an archaic and disturbing mindset. When I see people celebrating killing I get a terrible feeling in my stomach that the killing may never end.
Now, I must do what is necessary in this type of discussion and look at it from a different perspective. If I had a close family member or friend killed in the 9/11 attacks or in the war in Afghanistan, would I feel differently? Would I be wishing I could be there, in the streets, singing and shouting? Honestly, I might. I would probably hate OBL. I would hate him so much for what I believed he did that I would think him no longer human. And that dehumanization of my mortal enemy would allow me to easily flock into the streets with others to cheer and jeer, shout and holler; to celebrate the killing of, not a fellow human, but of an estranged enemy. So, yes, I understand the celebrations. However, I still must insist that to me they are not right.
If I were out there celebrating, I would want my non-celebrating self to help me realize what my actions and emotions meant. It means I have dehumanized another. Dehumanization may not sound like much of a threat, but indeed, it is the largest threat of all. Any war, any atrocity, any killing of another human being begins with dehumanization. Ask any soldier, government, or Hitler.
Soldiers must dehumanize their enemies because to believe you are killing real people would make battle an impossible task to complete. The military trains soldiers not to think, just to do as ordered. Thinking might allow them to second guess what they are doing and who they are killing. And any soldier that second guesses his actions is a dead soldier. It makes sense. If you want proof look at the Wiki leaks video of the soldiers killing journalists from their attack helicopter. They sounded like they were playing a video game, not killing real people. It’s kill or be killed and there’s no room for thinking you might be killing a husband or father.
Governments know just as well that in order to win over the people for war, you must dehumanize the enemy. Look back at WWII and study the propaganda put out by the U.S. government on the Japanese and it’s full of cartoon caricatures doing or saying ludicrous things. The caricatures don’t look human, they look evil and unreal. If you showed your enemy in a good light, killing them would be much harder, wouldn’t it?
Finally, Hitler was the master of dehumanization. The Nazi’s didn’t treat the Jews like humans but instead as a lesser race of animal. Hitler did his best to convince a country that Jews were lesser beings than themselves. The Jews became a “problem” that needed to be “solved”. Hitler called the genocide “the final solution of the Jewish question”. It wasn’t “we have to exterminate a race of humans”. That doesn’t sell. That’s too personal, too outrageous. It would have made people think of what they were actually doing and I strongly believe there are not many more unnatural actions than one human killing another.
So let us think. Let us realize that what we are really doing while hanging on to street polls and singing in the streets is celebrating how we murdered another human being. If you came out on the streets and asked my celebrating self why I was rejoicing after murdering another human being, I would hope I’d start second guessing myself. I’d hope I would stop and think and realize that my jubilation over another’s killing made me no better than the one I was celebrating the killing of. Because, if I were a betting man, I’d bet after 9/11 OBL was doing the same thing. Elated over the death of so many Americans, OBL was probably jumping with joy and singing his praises. OBL celebrated the killing of other human beings and it’s unnerving to see the people who have such strong emotions against him acting just like him. Celebrating killing will not stop more killing.
(please feel free to comment!)