All Lives Matter?

January 7, 2018

...shouldn’t the rallying cry just be All Lives Matter? No. Because the humanity wasn’t stripped from all lives the
way it was stripped from the lives of black citizens. In order for slavery to work, in order for us to buy, sell, beat,
and trade people like animals, Americans had to completely dehumanize slaves.


Dehumanizing always starts with language, often followed by images. We see this throughout history. During
the Holocaust, Nazis described Jews as Untermenschen—subhuman. They called Jews rats and depicted them as
disease-carrying rodents in everything from military pamphlets to children’s books. Hutus involved in the
Rwanda genocide called Tutsis cockroaches. Indigenous people are often referred to as savages. Serbs called
Bosnians aliens. Slave owners throughout history considered slaves subhuman animals. I know it’s hard to
believe that we ourselves could ever get to a place where we would exclude people from equal moral treatment,
from our basic moral values, but we’re fighting biology here. We’re hardwired to believe what we see and to
attach meaning to the words we hear. We can’t pretend that every citizen who participated in or was a bystander
to human atrocities was a violent psychopath. That’s not possible, it’s not true, and it misses the point. The point
is that we are all vulnerable to the slow and insidious practice of dehumanizing, therefore we are all responsible
for recognizing it and stopping it.


All lives matter, but not all lives need to be pulled back into moral inclusion. Not all people were subjected to
the psychological process of demonizing and being made less than human so we could justify the inhumane
practice of slavery. (Braving the Wilderness)

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