“Who cares? They’re not human”

Farmer in Vietnam
By Philippe Berry, IFPRI (http://www.usaid.gov/; exact source) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Risa M. Mandell

In a letter to the Editor of The New York Times, on January 14, 2017, Suzanne Cogan, from New York, writes:

I was in Vietnam in 1967, the same year as Karl Marlantes, performing in “Guys and Dolls” for the U.S.O. My experience was very different.
We spent a night on the U.S.S. Enterprise, staying awake to count the black stealth bombers. They were returning from secret sorties over Laos, contrary to stated United States policy. I never saw racial prejudice in the military, but I was shocked by our indifference to the killing of innocent Vietnamese.
From the cockpit of a chopper I saw people in black pajamas and conical straw hats working the rice paddies. The pilot said, “I’d like to plug some of them.” When asked how he could tell friend from enemy, he said: “Who cares? They’re not human.”
I returned to Vietnam in 2013. Every Vietnamese I spoke to had moved past anger and resentment, expressing a desire to cooperate with us, a former enemy. But what have we Americans learned from the Vietnam War? Our country is more divided than ever.

“Who cares?  They’re not human” speaks volumes of our lack of consciousness and conscience towards the sentience of other humans who are perceived as ‘less than’ because they look different from us.  The song “You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught” from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, South Pacific (1958), says it all:

You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear
You’ve got to be taught from year to year
It’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear
You’ve got to be carefully taught

You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made
And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade
You’ve got to be carefully taught

You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late
Before you are six or seven or eight
To hate all the people your relatives hate
You’ve got to be carefully taught

This attitude is at the root of the violence decimating our planet and its inhabitants, and it is remedied by the Humane Party’s platform, which resolves to “ensure equality” among all humans.  The platform also resolves to end non-emergency-based use of toxic, hazardous, and economically untenable fuels, to prevent anthropogenic effects on air quality, soil quality, and water quality beyond those inherent to humans as organisms, to foster humane education, and to eliminate systems and practices that create profit motives to engage in war.

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