The Exploitation of Humans and other Sentient Beings

Review of Charles Patterson's coverEternal Treblinka

(Lantern Books, 2002)

by Marc Bedner, editor of Common Sentience

A New York Times article on March 27, 2003, gave the following description of U.S. military activity in Nasiriya, Iraq:

Some 20 Iraqi men sat cross-legged or squatted in the damp sand, huddled together against the chill. One was allowed to walk a few steps away to relieve himself. Marines with M-16 rifles stood guard.

These were the low-priority detainees. Probably refugees, probably farmers, possibly soldiers once. Probably harmless, probably being sent home soon, but not just yet.

"They must feel like zoo animals," an American officer said. "Everybody coming by for a look." The name of the Marine unit overseeing their imprisonment is the Human Exploitation Team.

The open description of this activity as "human exploitation" is but one sign of the low regard the U.S. military, along with their civilian bosses, have for Arabs and citizens of other predominantly Muslim nations. Another sign is the regarding of civilian casualties as "collateral damage," a term popularized during the 1991 Gulf War.

The rapid U.S. military takeover of Iraq was, indeed, a Blitzkrieg ("lightning war"), to use the term coined by the Nazis. Like the U.S. military today, the Nazis used the latest in military technology to press their advantage.

As Charles Patterson points out in Eternal Treblinka, the Holocaust also required nonmilitary technology. A chapter of the book, The Industrialization of Slaughter, is subtitled The Road to Auschwitz through America. While the automobile industry is often credited with the invention of assembly-line technology, it actually began with slaughterhouses. After taking the assembly line from the slaughterhouse to the auto assembly plant, Ford went on to support fascism. The transmission of the assembly line from the slaughterhouse to the automobile industry led to Blitzkrieg and gas chambers.

How do people, both military and civilians, find it so easy to ignore the killing of innocent civilians, now dismissed as "collateral damage"? Germans of the 1920s prided themselves on their advanced civilization, including a long-established social democracy. But for most thought nothing of the killing involved in eating meat. It seemed natural to them, just as it seems natural to most Americans today, to distinguish "lower" animals from humans.

Goering's Storm Troopers and Goebbels propaganda machine blamed Jews for the economic difficulties Germany experienced, with the rest of the world, during the Depression of the 1930s. They made the case that Jews were not really human, and deserved to be treated as "lower" animals. As Hunt Master of the Reich (Reichsjägermeister) Goering instituted regulations to make hunting more "sportsmanlike."

At the Nuremberg war crimes tribunal, Goering described the ease with which the Nazis came to power in Germany:

Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger.

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