29 January 2005

Once people have been deprived of their humanity it is much easier to kill them. (All modern dictatorships have known this.) The Jews who were shunted to Auschwitz in cattle trucks were so degraded by their journey that they were no longer considered Menschen — human beings — but animals to slaughter. Typically, Auschwitz personnel ensured that their awareness of this horror was confined to their own special competence (the punctual departure of trains, the registration of arrivals). It was this willed ignorance that enabled them to ignore the moral consequences of their work.

Ian Thomson, "Horror of Horrors," Guardian Books (29 Jan 2005).

(25% of your final grade) Compare and contrast this passage with treatment of individuals at the Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay facilities. Be sure that you discuss implications for operational security and for moral authority. Recommended time: 45 minutes.