Thursday, 7 April 2011
06:49:34 PM (GMT)
This is an essay i did for class on dehumanization, please give me some feedback
(not just i did/ didnt like it, i want real comments please).
"Dehumanization is a physiological process whereby opponents view each other as less
than human and thus not deserving of moral considerations" This is the definition of
dehumanization according to Michelle Maise on beyondintractibility.org. This quote
means that people who are dehumanizing others are seeing the ones being dehumanized
as not being worthy of basic things such as life, food, shelter, happiness, etc. When
Europeans first came to America they dehumanized Native Americans and later Africans.
In today's times the kind of dehumanization they practiced (slavery, stealing, etc.)
would not be tolerated and even though those things happened many years ago, it still
raises questions about morality.
First question is; how would they justify that dehumanization? The Europeans would
most likely say that the Indians and Africans are uncivilized. They would say this
because it was common belief back in the 1600's and 1700's and even after that.
People thought they were helping the "uncivilized" by giving them "better" shelter,
food, and clothes. The Europeans thought the people in their home countries didn't
have it as good because they were not living like the Europeans and did not have the
same religion so they thought they were helping to save them by converting them too.
Not everyone thought that, for example there are the Quakers who thought everyone
should be equal. They thought this because "Quakers believe that there is something
of God in everybody and that each human being is of unique worth. This is why Quakers
value all people equally, and oppose anything that may harm or threaten them"
~www.BBC.co.uk. So, for the majority people thought that the Africans and Indians
were "uncivilized" and taking their land and putting them in slavery was their way of
The second question is; How would they defend their conquest while still believing
in equality and freedom for all while still believing in freedom and equality for
"all" being essential to the growth and prosperity of the United States? The settlers
would defend that by saying that equality for all meant white men, not Africans,
Native Americans, and to some extent women. That is another common belief like what
was mentioned before, because even in the Constitution of the United States the
original meaning of "all" was understood to be white men even though that
understanding has changed with time. It's because white males were who were in
charge, like all the founding fathers. For example Thomas Jefferson, he wrote the
Declaration of Independence and in the original, unedited, document it had a section
about freeing slaves which was later removed. However Jefferson owned two-hundred
people. Also, because back then there was no "growth and prosperity" without the
slave trade because the main source of money came from crops grown on plantations
which are large farms which grow one "cash crop" (such as corn, tobacco, or indigo)
and have slaves working on them.
What the settlers did was not a just act because even though they believed
differently than most people do now, they were still hurting living people, whether
they believed that or not. Like when children are very young, most parents tell them
not to do stuff and if they still do it, the parents might say "they didn't know
better". Just because the child did not know what the outcome of their actions would
be, it does not reduce the outcome just because they did not know that what they did
In conclusion, the Europeans would justify all of the moral issues that were talked
about in previous paragraphs by saying what they believed, they thought it was not
dehumanization it was just the way things were to most settlers. Even though what
they believed was different than what most people believe nowadays. But even though
they didn't think what they were doing was bad (for the most part), it doesn't make