The dehumanization and objectification of political adversaries as preparation and justification for mass murder came into sharp focus as an effective weapon during the French Revolution.
The specific insults morph to fit the circumstances and the times, but each insult is designed to have the same effect — to dehumanize and to objectify a group of people in opposition to the dominant group that has seized power and the legal mechanisms of the State.
Here is a partial list of the defamatory names of condemnation as utilized by tyrannical regimes as well as the fate meted out to people branded as such:
Enemies of the people
Enemies of the revolution
Criminals against Liberty
Mass executions by guillotine in Paris and cities across France.
Genocide against the Catholic clergy, nuns and laity of La Vendee.
Mass executions by firing squad, mass graves. Imprisonment and torture in Lubuanka and Leforto prisons. Millions starved to death. Others sentenced to hard labor in Siberia.
Re-education camps, sanctioned mass murder by Red Guards, torture, imprisonment, starvation
What makes these derogatory blanket terms salient and potentially dangerous is that they were intentionally uttered publicly in front of an audience of admirers just this past Friday by Hillary Clinton, who within two months may be elected as president of the United States, in possession of all the levers of State power, and that she knowingly used these defamatory, inflammatory, dehumanizing terms to describe en masse tens of millions of American citizens.
As students of history we’ve seen this before. I avoided including Adolf Hitler’s dehumanizing remarks against Jews, Gypsies, Communists and others because there are still survivors of the Holocaust among us and wounds so deep never heal. But the atrocities and genocide of 1941-45 also started with words — dehumanizing words used against entire groups of people.
There is a vast difference between what an anonymous individual says and what the State says. The examples above are grim reminders of what can happen when those in power, or those who seek it, are celebrated, promoted and legitimized In their attempts to destroy their political enemies.
In a lifetime of enduring the tyranny of the arbitrarily condemned and surviving to write about it, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn provides stark witness for us all. What he learned in the strife of decades is that no human is irredeemable, neither the jailor nor the prisoner. And that to think otherwise is to condemn us all.
“Gradually it was revealed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties. If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and to destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.” – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago
Ron Maxwell wrote and directed the critically acclaimed film “Gettysburg.”