Monday, May 1, 2017

How Genocide Begins with Groupthink

Perhaps most important to a genocidal plan is neutralizing any possible support for the victims. The Ottoman government maintained a well-coordinated propaganda campaign that vilified the Armenians in the eyes of their Turkish neighbors. In like manner, the Jews were demonized among their neighbors in Nazi Germany.

This sort of thing happens in all mass killings, including those done for reasons other than ethnicity. For example, in Stalinist Russia, several million peasant farmers in the Ukraine were deliberately starved to death in the winter of 1932-33 in what is known as the Holodomor. Soviet propaganda demonized these people, known as “kulaks,” as enemies of the people because they resisted the forced collectivization of agriculture, i.e., the confiscation of their farms. In Rwanda, Hutu propaganda vilified and scapegoated the Tutsis, often through radio, priming the popular mindset for the mass slaughter of 800,000 Tutsis during a 100-day period in 1994. The list of “final solutions” goes on and on.

Information warfare through a centrally controlled media is key to turning neighbor against neighbor. It plays a huge role in caricaturing perceived enemies and growing an us-versus-them mindset. In short, propaganda that psychologically manipulates a population is key to laying the groundwork for extreme social polarization, and ultimately for genocide.

This sort of propaganda thrives on ignorance and dissipates under conditions of social trust and general goodwill. This is why free speech and freedom of expression are not negotiable to any free society.

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