Go to content Go to navigation Go to search

Yes, Lebanese PM, you are “children of a lesser God?” · 27 July 2006

The Lebanese Prime Minister, Fouad Siniora, pleading for a ceasefire, asked: “Is the value of human rights in Lebanon less than elsewhere? Are we the children of a lesser God?”

In 1950, Gustave Gilbert, the US prison psychologist at the Nuremberg Trials wrote:

“One may react to injury or persecution of one’s own identification group with the same pain or hostility as if the injury had been inflicted on him and yet feel no concern for the same injuries inflicted on members of other groups. Thus sentiment could be aroused among Germans over the “persecution” of their Volksgenossen in Czechoslovakia and Austria, with impassioned humanitarian appeals, while many calmly witnessed the beating up of German Jews on the streets of their own cities. In a like manner, “white, American-born Protestants” can patriotically defend the humane “American way” in defiance of dictatorship, while feeling no concern over the mistreatment of racial minorities at their own back door.”

Israel and the US are able to accept the heavy civilian casualties in Lebanon because the Lebanese are not part of the Judae-Christian “identification group” – the Lebanese are indeed “children of a lesser God”.

Of course, many Arabs and Muslims will see things the other way round.

Gilbert continued: “Many Germans and many Americans, when confronted with these inconsistencies in their professed behavior as decent citizens, recognise the inconsistency intellectually, but still find it difficult to modify their behavior. Insight is not sufficient to overcome the deeply rooted social conditioning of feelings.”

“As a general principle …. the normal social process of group identification and hostility-reaction brings about a selective constriction of empathy, which, in addition to the semi-conscious suppression of insight, enables normal people to condone or participate in the most sadistic social aggression without feeling it or realising it.”

“The Psychology of Dictatorship: based on an examination of the leaders of Nazi Germany”, by Dr Gustave M Gilbert.

Back to Articles page