Untermenschen: The Language of Death
Following the defeat of Germany and Japan in World War II, the first trial held at Nuremburg was for those who were accused of medical atrocities. Twenty-three individuals, 20 of whom were medical doctors, were tried for a wide variety of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Prisoners of the Nazis were subjected to, among other horrible things, blood experiments, sterilization, castration, mastectomies, starvation, amputations, electroshock, and so on. Seeking cures for a variety of diseases, some prisoners (including children) were purposefully infected with typhus, hepatitis, Yellow Fever, smallpox, malaria, and the like.
In order to understand and improve conditions for German soldiers, prisoners of the Nazis were also subjected to high-altitude and hypothermia experiments. Doctors committed to the Nazi cause were also instrumental in Hitler’s euthanasia and Final Solution programs.
As the principal prosecutor Telford Taylor said in his opening statement at Nuremburg, “The defendants in this case are charged with murders, tortures and other atrocities committed in the name of medical science. The victims of these crimes are numbered in the hundreds of thousands. A handful only are still alive; a few of the survivors will appear in this courtroom. But most of these miserable victims were slaughtered outright or died in the course of the tortures to which they were subjected … To their murderers, these wretched people were not individuals at all. They came in wholesale lots and were treated worse than animals.”
According to author Dr. David Livingstone Smith, such dehumanization played a significant role in the “single most destructive event in human history: the Second World War.” Smith is an associate professor of philosophy at the University of New England, co-founder and director of the New England Institute for Cognitive Science and Evolutionary Studies, and the author of Less Than Human: Why We Demean, Enslave, and Exterminate Others.
According to NPR, in his book, Smith “argues that it’s important to define and describe dehumanization, because it’s what opens the door for cruelty and genocide.” Before going any further, let me say that from the little I know of Dr. Smith and his work, it is fair to assume that our worldviews are vastly different.
This paragraph from NPR justifies my conclusion:
“Human beings have long conceived of the universe as a hierarchy of value, says Smith, with God at the top and inert matter at the bottom, and everything else in between. That model of the universe ‘doesn’t make scientific sense,’ says Smith, but ‘nonetheless, for some reason, we continue to conceive of the universe in that fashion, and we relegate nonhuman creatures to a lower position’ on the scale.”
Of course, from the Christian perspective, having God at the top of the hierarchy of the universe is the only worldview — or “model of the universe” — that makes any sense. Nevertheless, Smith’s conclusions on humanity and genocide are revealing.
In Less Than Human, Dr. Smith asks, “What is it that enables one group of human beings to treat another group as though they were subhuman creatures?” According to Dr. Smith, the answer isn’t difficult to come by. He concludes, “Thinking sets the agenda for action, and thinking of humans as less than human paves the way for atrocity. The Nazis were explicit about the status of their victims. They were Untermenschen — subhumans — and as such were excluded from the system of moral rights and obligations that bind humankind together. It’s wrong to kill a person, but permissible to exterminate a rat. To the Nazis, all the Jews, Gypsies and others were rats: dangerous, disease-carrying rats.”
The Germans were not the only dehumanizing butchers of World War II. By the time the Soviets were drawn into the war, Stalin’s government was already quite adept at dehumanization and mass atrocities. In the 1930s, Stalin killed millions of his own citizenry. In turn, upon invading the Soviet Union, the German army killed over 20 million Soviets, about half of them civilians.
In retaliation, and in order to foment hatred towards the Germans, Soviet propagandists provided soldiers of the Red Army with pamphlets describing the Germans as “two-legged animals who have mastered the technique of war” — “ersatz (inferior) men” — who needed to be annihilated. “The Germans are not human beings,” the pamphlets read.
In 2010, in Forbes Magazine, Dr. Smith also describes the Japanese brutality of World War II. “For a period of six weeks from December 1937 to January 1938, Japanese soldiers slaughtered, mutilated, raped and tortured thousands of Chinese civilians. Honda Katsuichi’s harrowing book The Nanjing Massacre: A Japanese Journalist Confronts Japan’s National Shame describes many of the details of what happened. Katsuichi lets the perpetrators speak for themselves, and their accounts of the atrocities are so horrific that they are difficult to read.”
A Japanese veteran of World War II interviewed for Katsuichi’s book explained how such cruelty was possible. “We called the Chinese ‘chancorro’ that meant below human, like bugs or animals. The Chinese didn’t belong to the human race. That was the way we looked at it…If I’d thought of them as human beings I couldn’t have done it,” he observed, “But I thought of them as animals or below human beings.”
“This is called dehumanization,” Dr. Smith again concludes. “We dehumanize our fellow human beings when we convince ourselves (or allow ourselves to be convinced) that they are less than human and come to believe that, although these people appear to be human beings like us, this is merely a façade. Beneath the surface they are really subhuman creatures, fit to be hunted down and destroyed. The immense destructive power of dehumanization lies in the fact that it excludes its victims from the universe of moral obligation, so killing them is of no greater consequence than swatting a mosquito, or poisoning a rat.”
Smith’s conclusions are quite beneficial as we witness modern liberals’ attempts to defend the killing of children in the womb, along with the harvesting of the baby’s organs, by Planned Parenthood. To justify the slaughter of tens of millions of children in the womb, abortion apologists have regularly employed the de-humanizing language described by Dr. Smith. For decades now, liberalism has excluded unborn babies “from the universe of moral obligation.”
This was been on particular display in last year’s scandal involving Planned Parenthood (PP). “These are not ‘baby parts,’” insisted Jen Gunter. She prefers that the “tissue specimen” be referred to as “products of conception.” The term “baby” doesn’t apply until birth, Gunter declares. She concludes, “Calling the tissue ‘baby parts’ is a calculated attempt to anthropomorphize [humanize — notice that she can’t even bring herself to use the word "human”] an embryo or fetus.“
Such language is replete within liberal circles when it comes to killing children in the womb. "The right to choose,” is a refrain that’s been around for decades. The recent videos that shed more light onto what PP really does, according to Hillary Clinton, is “really an attack against a woman’s right to choose.” Tens of millions of Americans have been convinced (or allowed themselves to be convinced) that a child in the womb is “less than human.”
As science and technology advance, the deception about this “choice” is getting more difficult for liberals. This is due not only to pro-life activism and ultrasounds, but also the internet. For those who are willing to look for it, the truth about the humanity of life in the womb is available now more than it has ever been.
Nevertheless, the will to do whatever one wants sexually without the consequences is a powerful force, and those devoted to death are working harder than ever to maintain their lies. In defense of the largest abortion provider in the U.S., liberals regularly extol PP. They are lauded as “awesome” and regularly promoted as merely “a women’s health care provider” who has “extremely high standards.” President Obama himself has thanked PP for its work, and even offered it a “God bless you.”
In other words, in the face of well over 50 million deaths in American wombs since 1973, in order to maintain the façade of abortion as simply a “choice,” liberals have utilized the same language and propaganda as the most prolific murderers in the history of humanity.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of “Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World.” Contact him at [email protected]
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