Dehumanizing Syrians

Today, a graphic video was released showing Assad’s soldiers having fun after a massacre in the countryside of Idleb. It is a very revealing video. The soldiers seem to feel no remorse for the action they just committed. They call the corpses names, swear at them, throw them around, laugh at them, and undress them. This video is an important video to watch for all those who doubt that Assad’s soldiers are ‘capable’ of committing the massacres that have been occurring.

However, what is even more interesting is the rhetoric the soldiers use. Other than using swear words, one soldier in the beginning of the video shouts out, “Arour, ya akho sharmoota! (Arour, you motherfucker!)”. This gives us some insight into how the soldiers justify what they were doing to themselves. People are not simply born monsters with the capacity to massacre. A good deal of brainwashing is required before someone is able to take so many innocent people’s lives in such a brutal manner. Nazis dehumanized their victims with propaganda that convinced them that non-Aryans are subhuman or an inferior race. Israelis justify their killings by convincing themselves that the Palestinians they are killing are terrorists. People simply cannot massacre others while still believing that those people are human in the same sense that everyone else is, and thus, they tell themselves a story or a narrative that convinces them that the people that they are about to massacre are not fully human, which makes it easier for one to commit such horrid acts.

This was what was revealed when the soldier shouted “Arour, you motherfucker!”. Arour is a racist, sectarian extreme Sunni televangelist on TV who pretends to support the Syrian revolution, albeit, for all the wrong reasons. Ironically, as exhibited in the video, convincing people that Syrian revolutionaries are just Salafi, fanatic, extremist Arour followers who want to exterminate Alawites is exactly what has facilitated the massacring of Syrian families by Assad’s soldiers and shabiha. But the process of convincing people that this is who Syrian revolutionaries are was not done by the regime’s propaganda machine alone. Many intellectuals, columnists, bloggers, tweeters, journalists, and academics partook in this dehumanization process as well. They wrote off the Syrian people in their righteous struggle protesting against a fascist regime as just “Sunni extremists who want to kill Alawites”. Therefore, although it is Assad’s soldiers and shabiha who are committing the massacres, many others are guilty of enabling the dehumanization of Syrians by lending credence to the argument that Syrians protesting against Assad are just a bunch of sectarian, Salafi, Arour followers, as without this logic, it would be much harder for Assad’s soldiers or shabiha to commit such heinous acts, as they would not be able to justify them to themselves.

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