How to Train the Neighbors to Hate (and Kill)
(Click here for an explanation of the above caption)
“…the President’s plane was shot out of the sky. Afterwards the French trained and elite Presidential Guard began the systematic elimination of Rwanda’s political opposition. Within twenty-four hours the Prime Minister, her UN escort, most of her cabinet, and the head of the Constitutional court had been killed. Every journalist, doctor, social worker, lawyer – anyone who given support to peace and power-sharing was hunted down and killed. The lists of names had been prepared beforehand.” –Linda Melvern on the 1994 genocide in Rwanda
File today’s post under “Divide and Conquer” with another advance warning to watch the videos before they’re banned by youtube.
Some of you with a background in psychology and the social sciences (or just a lot of daytime TV) might be familiar with the Jane Elliot’s Brown vs Blue eyes exercise which she started in a classroom beginning in the late 1960s. I could go off on a long tangent how doing the same thing today would get a teacher fired and the school sued in a New York minute. However, timing is everything and the original teacher who was able to shrug off the need for an IRB was able to make a long career out of repeating this stunt. When this is replayed on TV today, the thing of most interest to casual observers is how easily a group of adults can be divided and polarized. What I find more interesting, though, is how easily the same ruse is used again and again over the past 4 decades within the same country. There is no generational memory. I remember first seeing a video tape of this technique from the Phil Donahue show which was probably recorded in the early 1980s. However, it has been used on other shows in the 1990s and more recently on a college campus. I’ve posted some segments from youtube.
Oprah show circa July 1992. Side note: purses searched in background at 1:30. Remember, this is 1992.
“Act brown-eyed and you too can take off your collar.”
Part 1. The majority of this video appears to be on a college campus in the early 2000s. But, the beginning also includes a segment from ABC TV news in 1970.
Favorite quote from above:
“If they get power, who loses power? We do. Do you want to lose power? No.”
I like the stated premise behind the motivation for doing these exercises which is to use a ridiculous topical difference to illustrate the dangers of racism, negative group dynamics, etc. I’m definitely one of those people who believe in each person’s individual merits, content of character, goodness of heart and spirit and all that. One of my concerns is not only does that lack of memory thing keep creeping back every 15 years, but many longstanding perceived stereotypes still remain hidden not far beneath the surface. However, I don’t think old racism will be a major factor in dividing America in the future. It will remain a tool to some extent, but the key method for dividing the American people will be to accentuate the differences in how they think.
Let me take this a bit farther. Not long ago how one thought about the color of skin was the major definer and divider. (That for the most part has been resolved for the majority of people). Since then, ways of thinking and how they divide people have moved on to a long list of other concepts: abortion, gun control, sexual expression, religious opinions in public, etc. The focal points for discussion and debate have often involve combinations of concrete and abstract topics. Over time, though, this has become increasingly abstract with the result that people have more difficulty seeing eye to eye across the spectrum. Complete resolutions palatable to all parties will not be found. In reality they can’t be.
When these individual differences reach heightened levels between different groups, problems during public discussions soon follow. Since lasting resolutions can’t be found in the real world, one group will come to believe that the perception of reality by the other group is the problem. In the meantime, the gears in the old public dispute resolution mechanism either bind due to deadlock or slip too much as the points move father apart from disengagement. Either way, without careful maintenance and thoughtful correction, the machine which once produced useful civilized discourse will no longer function.
When one or more of the many sides involved in the stoppage proclaims that the “time for talk has come to an end”, that will be the signal that hope has been lost for the machine. Next, the tools that had maintained the machine are first used to smash it to bits before being turned into weapons on the old operators. Those who want to defend the old machine or who think differently from the main group about what is needed to replace it are among the first victims. Differences in thought alone will define who is in or out of the ascending dominant group. The knowledge and training required to perform violence on the population is actually the simplest part of the entire process –the known methods are older than recorded history.
The Stanford Prison Experiment also belongs in this post today. I last posted on this back on 12-6-10 in Your Reactions are Known in Advance which included video segments later banned by youtube. The entire documentary was posted again as a single piece. Watch it while you still can:
The Standford Prison Experiment. Lots of black and white footage taken live from the “lab”.
Interesting to note that this experiment involving college students in California in 1971 was shut down after only 6 days. Even in the capital of the counter-culture, free love, new independent thought, and all that, I guess not much had really changed when it came to human psychology.
Also on today’s list of must watch videos is an after school TV special from 1981 which was based on another real-life school exercise:
The Wave , Part 1
I’m not going to re-hash what so many other writers and documentaries have already covered regarding the rise of the Third Reich and the mass indoctrination of that population. On an side: do you remember when TV Programming was still called TV Programming by the TV Programmers? Every wonder why they don’t call it that in public anymore? Might be too much of a view behind the curtain.
What I will end with today is something regarding Rwanda –a nation where contrived differences were turned into genocide. That country’s mass media was used to incite the masses.
Rwanda: “…the most efficient genocide in history…the killing was done on an industrial scale…” and it was mostly done using machetes. Warning: video shows dead bodies.
The Khmer Rouge used plastic bags to suffocate a large number of their fellow countrymen. Passive methods of starvation, disease, etc have also been effective tools for mass-murderers throughout history. The training on how to kill is the easiest part after the longer more complicated process of indoctrination. But, as you’ve learned today that indoctrination process doesn’t take so long to accomplish when the conditions are ripe.
Who will seize it?
Will they use the ends to justify the means?
Any other questions? If not, class dismissed.