Friday, April 13
Deadly Compassion: the weaponization of empathy
... Of all the disgusting things that are part of this kind of propaganda, the weaponization of empathy is the worst. What makes us human is being turned into an instrument for the destruction of whole societies. ...The deeply insightful observation is from a commenter at Moon of Alabama whose screen name is Cassandra. She was remarking on an April 12 MoA posting that's in part about governments rationalizing their aggression in Syria by portraying the country's president and military as war criminals.
The weaponization of empathy is not new but it got institutionalized after the 'responsibility to protect' idea jelled into government-supported policy in the Western countries. The R2P doctrine, as it came to called, provides a moral rationalization for governments to ignore the borders of other countries in order to stop a genocide.
When one thinks of what happened in Rwanda while the civilized nations pretty much looked the other way, it's easy to understand the thinking that gave rise to the doctrine and sympathize with it.
But one can also see how those with impure motives could twist R2P's militarized compassion into a force for evil.
By the end of the first decade of this century the shining image of R2P was beginning to tarnish. In 2009 an American civil rights attorney named Chase Madar penned a revealing criticism of R2P, Samantha Power and the Weaponization of Human Rights that was published in The American Conservative and republished in Counterpunch. In 2010 The American Conservative published his indictment of political Liberals who'd twisted human rights into a weapon of war, How Liberals Kill.
Predictably the exposés of R2P's dark side only made the rascals more creative. Thus, the Arab Spring, a strategy for toppling governments that was a devilish brew of perverted democracy doctrine, perverted R2P doctrine, skillful editing of video footage for TV audiences, and social media.
And here we are today, with a former real estate developer and Reality TV star accusing Syria's president of poisoning little babies and children and threatening to bomb him into better behavior.
With any luck Donald Trump's attempt at an imitation of the Archangel Michael will finally do for the Responsibility to Protect doctrine what the Clinton Foundation and other charities' escapades in post-earthquake Haiti did for Western charitable giving in response to natural disasters.
Which is to say the waste and theft of billions of dollars that compassionate Americans and other Westerners gave to help the Haitians forced many of the good-hearted givers to wake up and wise up about how they went about emphasizing.
Acting intelligently on our empathy with the sufferings of others is a process that requires constant striving and vigilance. That's because we're human. For this reason democratic peoples must not allow their all-too-human governments to play invading angel -- not if they don't want to extend an invitation to the devil.