We are monsters

It should be clear to anyone of conscience that the events I listed in these tweets are no exceptions:


Twitter limits tweets to 280 characters, imposing brevity. But off the top of my head, in addition, and in no particular order, there is the Turkish genocide of Armenians, numerous pogroms against Jews, the Zionist treatment of Palestinians, Chinese treatment of Uyghurs, Burma’s (Myanmar’s) treatment of the Rohingya, slavery, genocide of indigenous peoples, East Timor, and, I am sure, countless more.

It has been much too easy to say, oh, it was the Turks. Oh, it was the Nazis. Oh, it was the Puritans persecuting women (as witches). Oh, it is the Zionists. Oh, it is the slaughterhouse workers. Oh, it is or was somebody else, not us. Oh, it was long ago, not now.

And so it happens again. As it happens now in Ukraine, both in the actual events and in those that are or have been threatened.[1]

The atrocities humans commit against other humans are not exceptions. They are far too numerous over far too long a period to be treated as exceptional. This is what humans do. This is what we are.

And when we deny that, we not only dehumanize those who dehumanize the human and nonhuman animals they butcher, but we set the stage for the next atrocities. We refuse the lesson that we are monsters.

  1. [1]Agence France-Presse, “Chernobyl power supply cut but IAEA says ‘no critical impact on safety,’” Guardian, March 9, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/mar/09/chernobyl-power-supply-cut-completely-after-russian-seizure-warns-ukaine; Dalton Bennett, Adela Suliman, and Mary Ilyushina, “Train station strike in eastern Ukraine takes brutal toll on civilians evacuating,” Washington Post, April 8, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/04/08/kramatorsk-train-station-strike-civilians-ukraine-russia/; Daniel Boffey, “Russia reasserts right to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine,” Guardian, March 26, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/mar/26/russia-reasserts-right-to-use-nuclear-weapons-in-ukraine-putin; Daniel Boffey, “‘It is a war crime’: two young boys among neighbours shot dead during attempted evacuation,” Guardian, April 2, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/apr/02/i-realised-my-husband-was-dead-ukrainians-tell-of-russian-army-atrocities; Daniel Boffey and Dan Sabbagh, “Vladimir Putin accused of war crimes as school and theatre are hit in Ukraine,” Guardian, March 17, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/mar/17/kyiv-ukraine-says-moscow-russia-must-accept-ceasefire-as-west-doubts-putin-sincerity; Nandita Bose, “Biden urges Putin war crimes trial after Bucha killings,” Reuters, April 4, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/biden-says-putin-is-war-criminal-calls-war-crimes-trial-2022-04-04/; British Broadcasting Corporation, “Ukraine war: Gruesome evidence points to war crimes on road outside Kyiv,” April 1, 2022, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-60949791; Malachy Browne, David Botti and Haley Willis, “Satellite images show bodies lay in Bucha for weeks, despite Russian claims,” New York Times, April 4, 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/04/world/europe/bucha-ukraine-bodies.html; Isabel Coles, Alan Cullison, and Yaroslav Trofimov, “Ukraine Awaits Word of Deaths, Survivors After Russia Hits Theater Turned Bomb Shelter,” Wall Street Journal, March 17, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/russian-forces-attack-theater-in-southern-ukraine-where-civilians-were-hiding-11647511730; Gerry Doyle, “Satellite images show civilian deaths in Ukraine town while it was in Russian hands,” Reuters, April 5, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/satellite-images-show-civilian-deaths-ukraine-town-while-it-was-russian-hands-2022-04-05/; Tom Engelhardt, “Ukraine in Perspective,” TomDispatch, April 7, 2022, https://tomdispatch.com/ukraine-in-perspective/; Martin Farrer, “Russians booby-trapping homes as they retreat, claims Zelenskiy,” Guardian, April 2, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/apr/02/russia-ukraine-war-invasion-retreat-zelenskiy-kyiv-us-biden-uk-evacuees-escape-mariupol; Michael R. Gordon and Alex Leary, “Russia, Failing to Achieve Early Victory in Ukraine, Is Seen Shifting to ‘Plan B,’” Wall Street Journal, March 20, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/russia-failing-to-achieve-early-victory-in-ukraine-is-seen-shifting-to-plan-b-11647824374; Nick Gutteridge, “Russia ‘stockpiling bodies of Ukrainian soldiers’ to use in ‘false flag’ attack on Chernobyl,” Telegraph, March 11, 2022, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2022/03/11/vladimir-putin-planning-terror-attack-releasing-radioactive/; Jim Heintz, Yuras Karmanau, and Mstyslav Chernov, “Fire out at key Ukraine nuclear plant, no radiation released,” Associated Press, March 4, 2022, https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-volodymyr-zelenskyy-joe-biden-kyiv-business-33b6c1709dee937750f95c6786832840; Jon Henley, “Russia laments ‘tragedy’ of troop deaths as Zelenskiy warns of atrocities in Borodyanka,” Guardian, April 8, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/apr/08/russia-laments-tragedy-of-troop-deaths-as-zelenskiy-warns-of-atrocities-in-borodyanka; Julia Ioffe, “‘Never Again’ Again: The History of Putin’s Terror,” Puck News, April 6, 2022, https://puck.news/never-again-again-the-history-of-putins-terror/; Yuras Karmanau, “Crisis deepens, Ukraine accuses Moscow of ‘medieval’ tactics,” Associated Press, March 7, 2022, https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-kyiv-europe-evacuations-kharkiv-01693b3373cf8bcf2400ae29af992bbe; James Kilner, “Russia ‘may be preparing to use chemical weapons in Ukraine,’” Telegraph, March 4, 2022, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2022/03/04/russia-may-ready-use-chemical-weapons-ukraine/; Samantha Lock, Jennifer Rankin, and Julian Borger, “‘Clear sign’ Putin is weighing up use of chemical weapons in Ukraine, says Biden,” Guardian, March 21, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/mar/22/clear-sign-putin-is-weighing-up-use-of-chemical-weapons-in-ukraine-says-biden; Justin McCurry, Samantha Lock, and Luke Harding, “Russia targeting cities as strength of Ukraine’s resistance ‘continues to surprise’, UK says,” Guardian, March 6, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/mar/06/biden-and-zelenskiy-discuss-more-aid-for-ukraine-as-russian-attacks-intensify; Bethan McKernan, “Rape as a weapon: huge scale of sexual violence endured in Ukraine emerges,” Guardian, April 3, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/apr/03/all-wars-are-like-this-used-as-a-weapon-of-war-in-ukraine; Loveday Morris, “In Ukraine’s second city, a furious rain of bombs and rockets takes a toll: ‘There are no coffins left,’” Washington Post, March 17, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/03/17/kharkiv-bodies-human-toll/; Loveday Morris, Annabelle Timsit, and Jennifer Hassan, “Russia bombs Mariupol art school where 400 people in besieged city were sheltering, Ukrainian officials say,” Washington Post, March 20, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/03/20/mariupol-art-school-civilians-russia/; Ashley Parker, Tyler Pager, and Emily Rauhala, “Leaders add sanctions on Russia, warn against chemical weapons,” Washington Post, March 24, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/03/24/biden-nato-europe-russia-ukraine-war/; Ashley Parker, Tyler Pager, and Emily Rauhala, “Leaders add sanctions on Russia, warn against chemical weapons,” Washington Post, March 24, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/03/24/biden-nato-europe-russia-ukraine-war/; Tarini Parti, Robert Wall, and Catherine Lucey, “Biden Calls for Russia to Be Expelled From G-20,” Wall Street Journal, March 24, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/biden-meets-allies-in-brussels-seeking-to-end-war-in-ukraine-and-punish-putin-11648112332; Catherine Philp, Caroline Wheeler, and Matthew Campbell, “Merciless Vladimir Putin shells Ukrainian evacuees,” Times, March 6, 2022, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/merciless-vladimir-putin-shells-ukrainian-evacuees-s98r0j50x; Pavel Polityuk and Tuvan Gumrukcu, “Ukraine says Russia snubs plea for humanitarian access to besieged civilians,” Reuters, March 10, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/ukraine-accuses-russia-genocide-after-bombing-childrens-hospital-2022-03-10/; Reuters, “UN rights office says it has credible reports of Russian cluster bomb use in Ukraine,” March 11, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/un-rights-office-has-credible-reports-russian-cluster-bomb-use-ukraine-2022-03-11/; Rachel Roubein with McKenzie Beard, “Health care is becoming a target in Ukraine,” Washington Post, March 17, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/03/17/health-care-is-becoming-target-ukraine/; Adam Schreck and Cara Anna, “Deadly missile strike on Ukraine train station busy with fleeing civilians,” CTV News, April 8, 2022, https://www.ctvnews.ca/world/deadly-missile-strike-on-ukraine-train-station-busy-with-fleeing-civilians-1.5853626; Jim Sleeper, “Too much reality: Putin’s Ukraine invasion summons Europe’s dark past,” Tikkun, March 2, 2022, https://www.tikkun.org/too-much-reality-putins-ukraine-invasion-summons-europes-dark-past/; Liz Sly and Max Bearak, “Russia pulls back from battered Kyiv region in major shift of war to east,” Washington Post, April 2, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/04/02/russia-ukraine-east/; Jordan Michael Smith, “Would Putin Really Go Nuclear? Well …,” New Republic, March 7, 2022, https://newrepublic.com/article/165634/putin-nuclear-weapons-ukraine-us-response; Richard Spencer, “Putin wipes out entire Ukrainian city of Volnovakha,” Times, March 13, 2022, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/putin-wipes-out-entire-ukrainian-city-of-volnovakha-b28k0lwh7; Isaac Stanley-Becker and Vanessa Guinan-Bank, “Germany intercepts Russian talk of indiscriminate killings in Ukraine,” Washington Post, April 7, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/04/07/bucha-german-intelligence-radio-bnd-russia/; David L. Stern et al., “Russian airstrike hits maternity hospital, as officials warn of fast-rising civilian toll,” Washington Post, March 9, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/03/09/russian-airstrike-hospital/; David L. Stern et al., “Intelligence points to heightened risk of Russian chemical attack in Ukraine, officials say,” Washington Post, March 11, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/03/11/intelligence-russian-chemical-attack/; David L. Stern et al., “Russian forces pull back from Kyiv, exposing horrors of war,” Washington Post, April 3, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/04/02/ukraine-russia-bucha/; Adela Suliman and David L. Stern, “Chernobyl plant disconnected from power grid; Ukraine demands cease-fire for urgent repairs,” Washington Post, March 9, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/03/09/chernobyl-ukraine-russia-iaea-nuclear-monitoring-lost/; Adela Suliman, David L. Stern, and Steven Mufson, “Forest fires near Russian-held Chernobyl nuclear plant raise radiation fears, Ukraine says,” Washington Post, March 22, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/03/22/chernobyl-forest-fire-radiation-ukraine-russia/; Yaroslav Trofimov, “Ukraine, Russia Agreement on Evacuating Mariupol Civilians Collapses,” Wall Street Journal, March 5, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/ukraine-and-russia-agree-to-open-corridors-for-civilians-to-evacuate-mariupol-11646470358; Yaroslav Trofimov, “Russian Artillery Kills Ukrainian Civilians Fleeing Kyiv Suburb,” Wall Street Journal, March 6, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/russian-artillery-kills-ukrainian-civilians-fleeing-kyiv-suburb-11646575238; Yaroslav Trofimov and Alan Cullison, “Ukraine Faces Fresh Wave of Attacks Focused on Population Centers,” Wall Street Journal, March 6, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/ukraine-resumes-evacuation-attempts-as-russia-presses-offensive-11646564330; Yaroslav Trofimov and James Marson, “Russian Forces Kill Civilians, Loot for Supplies in Occupied Ukraine, Residents Say,” Wall Street Journal, March 14, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/russian-forces-kill-civilians-loot-for-supplies-in-occupied-ukraine-residents-say-11647267560; Anton Troianovski and Matina Stevis-Gridneff, “Images of Russian Atrocities Push West Toward Tougher Sanctions,” New York Times, April 4, 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/04/world/europe/biden-putin-ukraine-war.html; Nataliya Vasilyeva, “Russians borrow from Nazi playbook with forced deportation of Ukrainian civilians,” Telegraph, March 20, 2022, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/global-health/terror-and-security/russians-borrow-nazi-playbook-forced-deportation-ukrainian-civilians/; Victoria Ward, “‘Atrocity’ as maternity hospital in besieged Mariupol destroyed by Russian air strikes,” Telegraph, March 9, 2022, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2022/03/09/childrens-hospital-mariupol-destroyed-russian-air-strikes/; Robin Wright, “What Does Putin’s Nuclear Sabre Rattling Mean?” New Yorker, March 1, 2022, https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/what-does-putins-nuclear-sabre-rattling-mean; Henry Zeffman, “Russia ‘using banned white phosphorus bombs’ in attack on Ukrainian city,” Times, March 13, 2022, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/russia-using-banned-white-phosphorus-in-attack-on-ukrainian-city-nj3rq6mg6

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