A Downward Spiral of Dehumanization

My understanding is that modern humans, living on any continent with any ancestral history, have truly minor differences in genes. Whether we consider physical traits, intelligence, or other factors that we might contribute to genes, humans average out when you look at populations on a whole. This means that ultimately, we really are not any different from anyone else, regardless as to whether we live in the United States, Mexico, or on an Asian Pacific island.
But that doesn’t stop humans from discriminating against others or from insisting that the group of humans to which they belong is inherently superior to all other humans. We see this when we look at populations across the globe and how we respond to refuges in Syria, people in the Indo-China region devastated by floods and storms, and how we treat low-income minority groups in the United States. Decades and centuries of discrimination, exploitation, and dehumanization have a long reach and influence the way we see people and groups that are less successful than our own group.
Steven Pinker writes about this in his book The Better Angels of Our Nature and explores what it means for violence and for humanity as we try to move forward and become less violent as a species. “The philosopher Jonathan Glover,” Pinker writes, “has pointed to a downward spiral of dehumanization. People force a despised minority to live in squalor, which makes them seem animalistic and subhuman, which encourages the dominant group to mistreat them further, which degrades them still further, removing any remaining tug on the oppressors’ conscience.
When this happens, oppressors feel justified in using violence, even in committing genocide, against those who have been discriminated. This downward spiral of dehumanization is like a self fulfilling prophecy, where a positive (in a negative way) feedback loop leads to more and more discrimination, less opportunity for the oppressed, and continually diminished well being for those who are discriminated against. And none of it is justified. It all stems from initial discrimination and minority status, not from actual genetic differences between peoples.
Another point that I think is important to note is that unfair treatment, or blatantly discriminatory treatment, becomes justified in this downward spiral of dehumanization. This is what happens in the United States when we dismiss real acts of violence against black people because a group of unhappy black people acted as a mob and vandalized buildings. We dismiss actual rights and legal protections of the individual because we devalue the group to which the individual belongs, justifying unfair and discriminatory behaviors.
There are largely no differences between humans. And saying that we dislike a group not because of racial differences but because of cultural differences is just as evil. Saying we dislike their inferior culture plays into the downward spiral of dehumanization. We discriminate against people because we feel threatened by them and their identity group. We discriminate to prop ourselves up, and we lean into a downward spiral of dehumanization to justify our discrimination.

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