David Livingstone Smith gives insight into dehumanization

Explaining dehumanization in all of its intricacies can be difficult. That’s why Dr. David Livingstone Smith carried out this duty. On Feb. 20, nearly 300 people packed inside Chris Knutsen Hall to hear Dr. Smith talk about the provocative subject.

Dr. Smith’s talk was titled “Less Than Human” and it concerned how some people are regarded as lesser humans. Moreover, the speech helped the audience discover that Nazis described Jews as filthy vermin and English settlers described Native Americans as “ravenous wolves,” for instance.

Dr. Smith dug deeper into the subject, explaining why people think of others as “subhuman creatures.”  Dr. Smith showed detailed slides of how Nazis would disrespectfully treat the Jews. In addition, Dr. Smith explained how dehumanization plays a crucial role in genocide, war and racism. According to Dr. Smith, “dehumanization unleashes extreme violence, resulting in war, genocide and atrocity.”

Dr. Smith is a professor at the University of New England and has published four books, one of which is an award-winning book that explains dehumanization on a deeper level. The book is titled Less Than Human: Why We Demean, Enslave and Dehumanize Others.

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‘Less Than Human: Why We Demean, Enslave and Dehumanize Others’ received stellar reviews from all across the nation, most notably from the New York Times. Photo by Sam Horn. 

Pacific Lutheran University hosted the Legacies of Shoah: Understanding Genocide, War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity last week. The symposium ran from Feb. 20 through the 21 and featured many notable speakers who gave their thoughts on how controversial topics, like genocide and dehumanization, are perceived by society.



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