One of the central tenets underlying gun ownership for self-defense: there are bad people out there. Seriously bad people. People with no respect for civilized norms, who’d happily rape, torture, injure and/or kill innocent people without any moral qualms. President Trump has a name for these people, some of whom are illegal immigrants: “animals.”
Vox science reporter Brian Resnick is unhappy with that term. The case that Trump’s language “justifies or even mandates violence,” the article’s sub-head proposes.
On Friday, Donald Trump stood before law enforcement officers in Long Island, New York, and warned them about the “animals” they were up against.
Trump’s speech to the Long Island police officers was long and chilling. Throughout his remarks, the president repeatedly advocated for violent policing. He also greatly exaggerated the threat of crime in the New York City suburbs, lamenting how Long Island’s parks have become “bloodstained killing fields.”
But most chilling was Trump’s description of the Latino gang members he singled out as the culprits: “I was reading one of these animals was caught and explaining they like to knife them and cut them and let them die slowly because that way it’s more painful. And they enjoy watching that much more.”
And that’s a problem because . . .
When we refer to people as “animals” or anything other than “people” it flips a mental switch in our minds. It allows us to deny empathy to other people, makes us feel numb to their pain, and lets us forgive ourselves from causing them harm.
At best, the dehumanizing language in Trump’s Long Island speech tells law enforcement they’re superior to these “animals,” which “justifies or even mandates violence,” Nour Ktiely, who studies the psychology of dehumanization and its consequences at Northwestern, told Vox in an email.
At worst,” Kteily said, “it communicates that message more broadly to the most fervent of the white supremacists who number among the president’s supporters.” These are people who — like Trump — may often conflate the words “immigrant” and “criminal.”
Oy vey. Here’s a story about the Latin Kings [via nydailynews.com] that makes one wonder how much empathy these gang members deserve, and what Mr. Resnick would consider an appropriate adjective to describe them. (Picture of perps above.)
Fueled by hate for homosexuals, a sick crew of Bronx gang members went on a wave of sadistic violence that included forcing a teen to burn his gay lover with cigarettes, cops said Friday.
The cowardly creeps then made the 17-year-old watch as they sodomized the (sic) tortured man with a miniature baseball bat.
I would have thought that the left-leaning Mr. Resnick would have some empathy for the LGBTQ community. Keeping in mind that this is hardly the first time these, well, animals attacked LGBTQ members (Latin Kings gang member gets life term for killing trans teen with hammer).
There is considerable irony here.
Not only does Mr. Resnick fail to understand that it’s in society’s best interest to marginalize, indeed vilify those who fail to respect the sanctity of human life, but he can’t see his comrades’ constant dehumanization of their conservative opponents. And where that would lead.
Inside all of us is the same mental machinery that fueled the atrocities of the past century. “We think others to death and then invent the battle-axe or the ballistic missiles with which to actually kill them,” writes the philosopher Sam Keen.
That’s why we can’t kid ourselves into believing that dehumanizing language is harmless.
Dehumanization, and increasing acceptance of prejudice, won’t immediately lead to atrocities — but it will make it easier to make life worse for the marginalized.
And yet liberals like Mr. Resnick believe “marginalized” Americans — all Americans, save the police — should remain disarmed in the face of attacks by animals. Go figure.