History and Psychology of Genocide (Essay) by Sherrie D. Larch

GenocideThroughout history humans have been killing one another without mercy, because of racial, ethnic, religious, political and other differences and territory grabs. What we call genocide and ethnic cleansing today has been happening, in one way or another, throughout human history. We never seem to learn from the past the right lessons, only how to do the killings more effectively and efficiently, without mercy or regret. The Crusades, the Inquisition, the Burning Times, the takeover of the new world and its land from the Native Americans, The Shoah (Holocaust), and genocidal crimes in Tibet, Cambodia, Rwanda, Darfur, and many more places throughout the world, past and present, show the inhumanity of the human race towards each other, and these crimes will go on into the future, “genocide inspires genocide”. It seems history must repeat it’s self over and over again; humans will not get past the psychology of hate. Lessons which should be learned are lost in ignorance.

Even defining the word “Genocide” is difficult for many governments and individuals, though its definition seems very clear: “The deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political or cultural group” (The Merriam-Webster Dictionary 2015). But this definition leaves many gray areas that groups and governments can use to get around global laws on human rights and genocide, to go on with their own criminal agendas against humanity. The definition does not explain or define what really makes up a group of people, or how many people in that group can be killed before it is considered a genocidal incident and not just an ethnic cleansing event. The question here is: How can you stop something that cannot be fully defined? And if it is defined, will global governments really come to the rescue of the “other? “An “Early warning System…and a coalition of support”(Rittner, Roth and Smith, (2002) Will Genocide Ever Stop? (Essay) Controlling Genocide in the Twenty-First Century, Herbert Hirsh (pages 131 to 137), may help in some cases of genocide, but changing the human psychology towards indifference, violence, and hate may be the only way to really stop the killing. But this is no easy task either, when religion and even science can be used to excuse this type of crime, to keep the majority in the mind set of hate.

The view “my tribe is better than your tribe“, seems to be somehow ingrained in the human psyche. That we are somehow different, not even the same specie. We must have someone we view as “the other”, who is below us, the scapegoat for all our troubles. Those who start genocidal crimes use this weakens in the human psyche to promote their agendas through propaganda. Dehumanization is one of the key tools to the destruction of a group of people, using their differences from the society around them to show that they are aliens in their own country or region, using pseudo-science and religion to back this up. Categorizing the targeted minority as a threat to the whole, desensitizes the majority, allowing the justified killing of the group, without question. “A common belief of this kind is that all members of a group share a common “essence” – an invisible something that distinguishes the group from other groups and leads to common group characteristics, or at least the tendency to develop these characteristics”(Rittner, Roth and Smith, (2002) Will Genocide Ever Stop? (Essay) Psychological Foundations, Clark McCauley, Page 77-82). Leaders in genocidal acts will use all available tools to spread the hate that enables them to commit their crimes, keeping the psychology of hate into play. During World War II Hitler and the Nazi Party used old prejudges and myths towards the Jews to label them as the dangerous outsiders, who threatened the Christian German Aryan majority in Germany. Jews were labeled as an impure race that needed to be eliminated; images of vermin (rats and cockroaches) were used as propaganda symbols. Old religious myths were also brought into political play; Jews were labeled as Christ killers, which meant as a group they all most suffer, their Christian neighbors had a duty to make this so. The myth from the 1st century of what is called Blood Libel, “the claim that Jews kill gentiles motivated by ritual/demonic impulses”(Dennis, Rabbi Geoffrey W. (2007) The Encyclopedia Of Jewish Myth, Magic, and Mysticism, Page 36 to 37), also was used in Nazi propaganda. All these psychological tools of hate increased the hatred and fear of the Jews in Germany, the rest of Europe, and the world during this time, closing borders to Jews and any hope of escaping the nightmare. This type of propaganda plays on our need to have “the other” to fear and hate. In Rwanda the Hutus used faulty pseudo-science and pseudo-anthropological research to prove that the Tutsis were another race or even another species from themselves. The Tutsi were labeled as being something less than the Hutus, “the other”, who had to carry different identification cards. This goes back to the human mind set saying “my tribe is better than you’re tribe.” Charismatic leaders play on this mind set to pull the majority into the crime, making them believe that it is being done for them out of care, for the good of the majority. That it must not be stopped, because it is saving them from the invisible “Boogie Man”, the enemy, that their leader preaches about and that faulty religion and science proves as some type of evil threat to their group.

Perpetrators of genocidal crimes also rely on putting their victims into a never ending psychology of fear, humiliation, and guilt. Labeling a group of people with something different than the majority (like identification cards, symbols or special laws that only pertains to them), can affect the victims psychologically. Torture (including rape), starvation, slave labor and public executions also are used to wear down and destroy the targeted group or groups, to break their spirits, minds and destroy their bodies. The victims may live in such fear that they just shut down emotionally, and may give up completely. Others may even start believing that something is truly different and wrong about themselves, and that the perpetrators are right in some way. After living through such inhumanity the crime of genocide goes on in the surviving victim’s psyche. The individual may feel humiliation from being raped or tortured themselves or watching this done to others and not being able to do anything, blaming themselves for being weak physically or spiritually, when in reality they could do nothing. They may have flash backs of the horrors they have seen and experienced, and have survivor’s guilt. Post-traumatic stress syndrome, phobias, drug and alcohol problems, and other emotional and mental problems may affect the victim for the rest of their lives.

Genocide and its crimes live on in the survivors minds and bodies and the souls of the dead that it leaves in its destructive path. But human beings ignore even those that  have lived through it and their experiences, repeating it over and over again. The cry for “never again,” seems to be ignored by the global community. Indifference and hate goes on in the world, though human beings have witness such horrors, we do nothing to stop the next tragedy. We ignore real science, which proves the human race is all connected genetically and biologically, inside we are all made the same, blood, bone and tissue of the same human DNA. We are all creatures that need love and safety, to be mentally and physically healthy. We also ignore the religions around the world, who all speak of loving your neighbors, your follow human beings. That killing another human being is an abomination to humanity and the Universal Soul.

Digital Red, Blue, and Purple Lace ©Sherrie D. Larch

Digital Red Lace

This artwork was created by using the Microsoft Paint Program and some artist’s magic. The design is based on red and black lace on women’s lingerie.

Digital Red Lace  By Sherrie D. Larch//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Digital Blue Lace

This artwork was created by using the Microsoft Paint Program and some artist’s magic. The design is based on blue and black lace on women’s lingerie.

Digital Blue Lace  By Sherrie D. Larch//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Digital Purple Lace

This artwork was created by using the Microsoft Paint Program and some artist’s magic. The design is based on purple and black lace on women’s lingerie.

Digital Purple Lace  By Sherrie D. Larch//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Merrill Park Civic Center I, II, and III ©Sherrie D. Larch

The Merrill Park Civic Center in Merrill, Oregon in Southern Oregon. The civic center until 1970 was the Merrill High School and during the 1970s and early 1980s it was Middle School.

Merrill Park Civic Center I
Merrill Park Civic Center I By Sherrie D. Larch//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Merrill Park Civic Center II
Merrill Park Civic Center II By Sherrie D. Larch//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Merrill Park Civic Center III
Merrill Park Civic Center III By Sherrie D. Larch//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js