Hat-tip to CFBostonBrian who referenced a link on his blog. Reading that link, I found another link to a 20 page report by Phillip Atiba Goff and Matthew Christian Jackson of the University of California, Los Angeles; Brooke Allison Lewis DiLeone of the National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Boston, Massachusetts; Carmen Marie Culotta and Natalie Ann DiTomasso of the University of Pennsylvania. The research paper is titled “The Essence of Innocence: Consequences of Dehumanizing Black Children.”
Their study, conducted in 2008, indirectly corrected me on using the term “demeaning”. I should have been using the term “dehumanizing.”
When Trayvon Martin was killed in 2012, there were people online who vigorously argued against Trayvon being a child. That argument continues today. I looked for reasons behind the demeaning because it was more than racial prejudice — it was absolute hatred, wishes of violence, and disrespect for human life.
The research and study conducted by Goff and colleagues supports that there is a link between dehumanization and sanctioned violence. It gives a history of dehumanization in the United States as a necessary condition for state-sanctioned violence. :
“The logic of this assertion is that dehumanizing groups morally excludes them (Opotow, 1990), making it permissible to treat people in a way that would be morally objectionable if they were fully human. U.S. history is replete with examples of this kind of moral exclusion of Black children. For instance, the policies of chattel slavery (mostly pertaining to peoples of African descent) permitted children to be separated from their parents and forced into labor at any age (Guttman, 1976). In 1944, a Black 14-year-old, George Junius Stinney Jr., became the youngest person on record in the United States to be legally executed by the state (electrocuted without the benefit of a lawyer, witnesses, or a record of confession; Jones, 2007). And, notoriously, in 1955, a 14-year-old Black boy named Emmett Till was dragged from his bed, disfigured, and lynched for allegedly whistling at a White woman (Crowe, 2003). What psychological context could explain this treatment of children? Again, there is reason to believe it may be contexts that provoke dehumanization.”
Alert: Some might find the language in quotes offensive.
At the University of Miami, the 4 GOP front-runners for the race to president debated. When asked about supporters acting violently at his rallies, Donald Trump responded that people were angry with the current administration, they are patriots, yada, yada, yada. So why is it that they are taking out their anger on other citizens, mostly people who do not look like them?
When I was in junior high, on the day that President Kennedy was assassinated, our social studies teacher wrote on the blackboard; “Ballots not bullets.” A boy in class blurted out asking if President Kennedy was killed by ballots, apparently thinking that the gun was loaded with special bullets. It gave our teacher opportunity to teach how Americans speak at the ballot box. The lesson extended to explaining that although the United States is a republic, that its voting structure is democratic. That lesson came back to my memory as I read how Trump supporters act violently.
I did a little research and this is what I found. The Huffington Post reports;
- At a rally in Iowa, Trump warned people, “There may be somebody with tomatoes in the audience. If you see somebody ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously. Okay? Just knock the hell – I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees.”
The New York Times reports that
- On February 22nd, regarding a protester, Trump threatened to personally get in on the action saying, “I’d like to punch him in the face, I’ll tell ya.
- A protester was in the crowd holding a sign that read, “Veterans to Trump: End Hate Speech Against Muslims.” Trump responded by repeatedly saying, “Get him the hell out.”
- A Sikh protester was physically pushed out of a Trump rally in Iowa, while fans yelled, “Trump! Trump! Trump!” The protester described it as “a fascist rally in a school gym.