Ever since settler colonists arrived on this continent from Europe, these colonizers have relied on racist and dehumanizing labels to try to justify their repressive and often genocidal treatment of Indigenous peoples, including occupation of Indigenous lands. As long as the original inhabitants of the colonized lands were defined as less-than-human, the settlers convinced themselves and their offspring that the atrocities they engaged in — and still do engage in — were not to be questioned and were justified.
Indigenous peoples were even criticized for taking frequent, whole-body baths. The Europeans rarely bathed beyond washing their hands or faces, but denigrated Native practices even though the Europeans were the unsanitary ones.
African peoples, whose lands were invaded by the Europeans, were given dehumanizing labels and kidnapped in the tens of millions to be sold into slavery by the white traders. When the colonists won independence from Europe and wrote their constitution, based in part on principles governing the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, Indigenous people were excluded from being citizens and enslaved Africans were defined as three-fifths human — a concession to Southern states that gave them additional representation in governing bodies.
Fast forward to 1971, when again racist terms were used against the courageous incarcerated workers at Attica Prison for daring to rebel and take guards hostage. When the state finally took back control of the prison by brutal force, 10 guards were killed along with 33 prisoners. The state tried to frame prisoners for the murders, but the truth came out that they were killed by the police raid.
Around this same time, freedom fighters in the Black Panther Party were attacked for carrying weapons of self-defense, which is a right under the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The party became the target of state violence determined to murder or imprison the Panther leaders, based on racist demonization.
Palestinians face dehumanization
Although Jewish people had lived in peace with Muslims and Christians in Palestine for centuries, the European Zionists engaged in ethnic cleansing even before the Nakba in 1948, forcing over 760,000 Palestinians off their homelands and into exile. They had the full backing of the imperialists in Britain and the United States.
The Zionists called Palestine “A land without people, for a people without land,” and this dehumanizing, racist outlook has only grown worse over the decades to today.
In 2001, following the attacks on Sept. 11, many imperialist countries who bore responsibility for fueling the attacks with their brutal occupations of Arab lands used the term “terrorists” to refer to Muslim people. Hamas leaders refused to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist as colonial occupiers who had forced Indigenous Palestinians from their land. Although Hamas played no role in the 9/11 attacks, suddenly they were labeled “terrorists” by Israel and the West, and continue to be to this day.
For decades, Israel has seized control of more and more Palestinian land in clear violation of international law governing countries occupying the land of other people. One of the motivators of the Oct. 7 uprising of Palestinians from Gaza was the rapid expansion of illegal Israeli settlements.
Without investigating, U.S. news pundits repeated allegations that Palestinian militants decapitated babies. It turns out that the source of this fake news report was an extremist Israeli settler, David Ben Zion, who incited race riots against Palestinians earlier this year, describing them as “animals” with no heart who need to be “wiped out.” (Mint Press News, Oct. 14)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has openly called for ethnic cleansing of land remaining under Palestinian control. At an appearance at the United Nations in September, he held up a “map” where Palestine had been erased. There can be no doubt this is what the Zionists and world imperialism are attempting to carry out today — war crimes by definition under multiple international laws.
Those who continue to fall in line and pick up the racist labeling of Palestinians as “terrorists” are ignoring the 75-year history of the occupation. Under international law, Palestinians were completely within their rights to rebel against Israeli occupation by any means necessary. The real terrorists in Palestine are the Israeli Zionists and their backers in the U.S. imperialist state.