Quotations about   dehumanization

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Life’s easier when you can write off others as monsters, as demons, as horrible threats that must be hated and feared. The thing is, you can’t do that without becoming them, just a little.

Jim Butcher (b. 1971) American author
White Night (2007)
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Added on 13-Jan-22 | Last updated 13-Jan-22
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What the horrors of war are, no one can imagine — they are not wounds & blood & fever, spotted & low, or dysentery chronic & acute, cold & heat & famine. They are intoxication, drunken brutality, demoralization & disorder on the part of the inferior — jealousies, meanness, indifference, selfish brutality on the part of the superior.

Florence Nightingale
Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) English social reformer, statistician, founder of modern nursing
Letter to her family (5 May 1855)
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Added on 22-Jul-21 | Last updated 22-Jul-21
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Once we have labeled someone as “evil” there is often no limit to the cruelty and violence we can feel justified in administering to him ….

James Gilligan (b. c. 1936) American psychiatrist and author
Preventing Violence (2001)
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Added on 16-Jun-21 | Last updated 16-Jun-21
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“And sin, young man, is when you treat people like things. Including yourself. That’s what sin is.”

“It’s a lot more complicated than that –”

“No. It ain’t. When people say things are a lot more complicated than that, they means they’re getting worried that they won’t like the truth. People as things, that’s where it starts.”

“Oh, I’m sure there are worse crimes –”

“But they starts with thinking about people as things …”

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
Carpe Jugulum [Granny Weatherwax, Rev. Mightily Oats] (1998)
Added on 11-May-21 | Last updated 11-May-21
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Evil begins when you begin to treat people as things.

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
I Shall Wear Midnight (2010)
Added on 8-Sep-20 | Last updated 8-Sep-20
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Animals often strike us as passionate machines.

Eric Hoffer (1902-1983) American writer, philosopher, longshoreman
Reflections on the Human Condition, Aphorism 7 (1973)
Added on 5-May-19 | Last updated 5-May-19
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It’s said that science will dehumanize people and turn them into numbers. That’s false, tragically false. Look for yourself. This is the concentration camp and crematorium at Auschwitz. This is where people were turned into numbers. Into this pond were flushed the ashes of some four million people. And that was not done by gas. It was done by arrogance, it was done by dogma, it was done by ignorance. When people believe that they have absolute knowledge, with no test in reality, this is how they behave. This is what men do when they aspire to the knowledge of gods.

Jacob Bronowski (1908-1974) Polish-English humanist and mathematician
The Ascent of Man, Ep. 11 “Knowledge or Certainty” (1973)
Added on 16-Jan-17 | Last updated 16-Jan-17
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People do these things to other people. Not just in Nazi concentration camps and in Abu Ghraib when it was run by Saddam Hussein. Americans, too, do them when they have permission. When they are told or made to feel that those over whom they have absolute power deserve to be mistreated, humiliated, tormented. They do them when they are led to believe that the people they are torturing belong to an inferior, despicable race or religion. For the meaning of these pictures is not just that these acts were performed, but that their perpetrators had no sense that there was anything wrong in what the pictures show.

Susan Sontag (1933-2004) American essayist, novelist, activist
“Regarding the Torture of Others,” New York Times (23 May 2004)

On the photos of Iraqi prisoners tortured by Americans in Abu Ghraib.
Added on 14-Jan-09 | Last updated 31-May-19
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