Updated: Sep 6
Before reading this blog post, please note, this blog post raises subjects such as racism, genocide, and other sensitive issues. There are also images some may find disturbing. Please click back if you do not wish to see this.
The Second World War, to most, will include the subject of the Holocaust. The genocide took the lives of six million Jewish people (cite), as well as the mass executions of The Nazis also claimed that Romany (Gypsies), Slavs (Poles, Russians), and physically and mentally disabled people (THE NATIONAL WWII MUSEUM, 2017). A question that arises from the event is how could this happen? The simple answer is that the Nazis dehumanised these groups of people.
Dehumanization is actually an extension of a less intense process of developing an "enemy image" of the opponent (Maiese, 2016). The concept is to allow the audience to perceive a group as non-human, to remove all empathy for the target of dehumanisation. With the Nazis, a series of characters of the Jews, with exaggerated features, such as big pointy noses and claw-like hands was common in their propaganda. This goes further with other propaganda depicting the Jewish as rats.
With comparisons to imagery, you can see through the character from humans with exaggerated features to animals. This collection of Nazi propaganda posters demonstrates how Jewish people can be seen as de-evolving from human to rodent.
The rat is a powerful image to portray, as rats are often associated with filth and disease (Vocabulary.com, n.d.). During the First World War (1914-1918), the German army command spread the myth that the army had not lost the war on the battlefield, but because they had been betrayed. By a ‘stab in the back, as it was called at the time (Anne Frank House, 2019). The blame was laid on the Jews and Communists. The disease being the control of government and economy.
Der Stürmer was an anti-Semitic "tabloid-style" newspaper published by Julius Streicher from 1923 almost continuously through to the end of World War II (Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team, n.d.). The paper regularly produced cartoons depicting Jewish people in non-human form. This was not exclusive to the form of rats, as this one example shows a Jewish man as a spider about to collect its Aryan prey.
The spider, a creature that has the honour of being one of the more common fears in people, is Arachnophobia. Other words you could associate with the spider are ones like a predator, patient and cunning. These are all carefully illustrated, with our Jewish spider patiently waiting for its unsuspecting victim who will soon fall into his trap. The use of imagery of the woman. The imagery could be suggesting that the Jewish man is looking to capture the woman with the intent of breeding with her and diluting the master race.
Other cartoons from Der Stürmer, as mentioned before depict the Jewish as rats, this example below shows a Nazi Soldier killing a rat by a tree with poison. It is a cruel irony that the chemical used in the genocide, Zyklon-B, was a chemical for killing vermin (PHILADELPHIA HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE FOUNDATION OFFICE, n.d.). The use of
rat poison to murder Jews would help to reinforce the idea that the Jewish people were vermin in a human form.
Although most dehumanisation comes from the association of a group of people (usually a minority), there are cases of humans being dehumanised to commodities. Between 1672 and 1689, ships are believed to have transported about 80,000 men, women and children from Africa to the Americas (Parkes, 2020). As inhuman as it is to force people into slavery, The slaves were also reduced to nothing more than a commodity for the consumers of slaves. The slaves were also branded with RAC, for the Royal African Company (Parkes, 2020). This can be seen in the same way Bosch would brand an appliance, a seal of quality to the consumer. A reminder to both slave and owner that the slaves are nothing more than a product to be used as the owner saw fit.
My research into Nazis and dehumanisation, lead me to discovering more about the idea. Kteily and Bruneau’s study, lead me to understand that not only is dehumanisation still happening today, but also that that had studied people from western countries on the subject, which uncovered that there were people that would rate other cultures as less evolved than themselves, using the Ascent of man scale.
In November 2015, the Daily Mail published a cartoon by Mac, (Grenoble, 2015). This cartoon is a depiction of the refugee crisis in Europe. The cartoon details refugees entering Europe. Notable imagery within the drawing shows a woman wearing a hijab, which denotes the religious aspect of the people crossing. A man with a rifle, suggests that they intend to bring terror or war to Europe. And rats, which symbolise that the people are pests or vermin. The cartoon intends to create fear and resentment in those looking for safety subconsciously, depicting them as lesser than the residents of European countries. In its publication, the cartoon was closely compared to cartoons published in a Viennese newspaper by the name of "Das Kleine Blatt" in 1939 (Grenoble, 2015), depicting Jewish people as a swarm of rats,
Blame culture, had its ties to the original idea of looking at pandemics. As the most recent example we can examine how China was blamed, by some, for the COVID-19 pandemic. As the world saw a virus, sweep over the globe in a matter of months, nearly all the world had to lock down.
With the world shutting down and economies suffering consequently, some decided to look towards who was at fault. One of the most visible in this was former United States president, Donald Trump, who placed the blame at the country of origin, China. Taking to Twitter, Trump would rename COVID-19 the ‘China virus’, He continues to praise his actions of closing the borders that would have saved many lives (The Wrap, 2020). Although the closing of your borders, as well as locking down your own population would have saved lives, the narrative of blaming someone, in this case a different race of people, would fuel animosity towards that race. One study suggests that former President Donald Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric around the coronavirus, which is believed to have originated in China, helped spark anti-Asian Twitter content and “likely perpetuated racist attitudes” (Reja, 2021).
UK right wing media, the daily mail, during the pandemic released a series of articles to suggest that China had produced the virus as a weapon. One article claimed the virus was created in a laboratory in Wuhan (Ridley, 2021). The research for this, however, was conducted by internet sleuths and we can easily dispute validity of their research. Another article claims that the China had been investigating into using biological weapons. The US State department investigators had been discovered a document that shows the Chinese military looked into the potential of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) as a potential weapon (Pyman, 2021). This document to its audience, helps backs up claims that the virus was man made, although we do need to consider other factors before accepted this as fact. The document has been made public through the US State department investigators, and we need to consider he tension between the US and China and that it could be propaganda. The claims should also be questioned as the World Health Organisation (WHO), who believe the virus origin came from bats (Doucleff, 2021).
Both articles, help instigate fear and mistrust for the Chinese, and like the tweets of Donald Trump would exacerbate racial tension towards Chinese people. The sources for the articles speculative and do not provide conclusive proof that the virus was created to be weaponised.
Making China the scapegoat, helps Leaders and media justify the issues. Blaming others may be unfair, but it calms passions because it identifies the problem with an external source and makes it easier for nations to put up with its consequences because they cannot control the behaviour of that source (Sushentsov, 2020). The issue of making others a scapegoat is one that has plagued mankind throughout history. Blaming others creates tension with those who believe it and those who are been blamed. The act of scapegoating people can bring wrongful acts towards those in the blame, from verbal abuse and attacks to atrocities far worse.
The Rwanda issue- Week 15
No sooner than I feel my essay has all the needed research than that parliament raises the issue of migrants and their displacement to Rwanda.
I was a little surprised that others had realised there could be a racist intent to the displacement of refugees of colour and the posting of memes on social media really have helped visually enforce the issue.
Timestamps: 13:35, 13:41
One of the key points I have picked up this week, I should aim to direct my target in Stoke-on-Trent. I have an assumption that Stoke, seems to hold a particularly high level of animosity towards immigration. This is in part to both MP's for Stoke making points of 'illegal' migration in parliament when debating the Bill of Human rights. The city has also elected the British National Party (BNP) (https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2009/jun/02/bnp-far-right-local-elections) in the past, backing up this assumption further.
Further investigation backs up this idea that racism and xenophobia exist in Stoke. This report suggests through poverty and low job prospects, combined with poor reasoning for the lower standard of living that it is easy to blame outsiders for the issues of the city.
Although, not related to the project. I have left a documentary of Monkey Dust below:
(Anne Frank House, 2019; BBC, 2020; Boswell, 2021; CBC, 2017; Hankewitz, 2021; Historyonthenet.com, 2011; Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team, n.d.; Kennedy Ndahiro, 2019; Maiese, 2016; Mediehuset København - Kursusportal, n.d.; Parkes, 2020; PHILADELPHIA HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE FOUNDATION OFFICE, n.d.; Reja, 2021; Rwanda Genocide, n.d.; Spiegelman, 2011; Sushentsov, 2020; The Legacy of 100 Days: The Rwandan Genocide, n.d.; THE NATIONAL WWII MUSEUM, 2017; Theodoridis and Martherus, n.d.; Travers-Smith, 2012; TV Tropes, 2015; Ullmann, 2020; Vocabulary.com, n.d.)