The Genocidal Killer in the Mirror” by Crispin Sartwell and Erich Fromm’s Disobedience as a Psychological and Moral Problem

1286 WordsJul 9, 20186 Pages
In the pursuit of safety, acceptance, and the public good, many atrocities have been committed in places such as Abu Ghraib and My Lai, where simple, generally harmless people became the wiling torturers and murderers of innocent people. Many claim to have just been following orders, which illustrates a disturbing trend in both the modern military and modern societies as a whole; when forced into an obedient mindset, many normal and everyday people can become tools of destruction and sorrow, uncaringly inflicting pain and death upon the innocent. Two articles, in particular, help clarify and explain this trend. The first is “The Genocidal Killer in the Mirror” by Crispin Sartwell, who explains how so many average people can be turned…show more content…
Fromm claims that it doesn’t matter which power someone gives their obedience to, so long as that power provides security. This sense of security makes men feel empowered, as they are supported and watched over by a higher power, one that shares their ideals and beliefs (Fromm 262). Sartwell also claims that those who are most malleable to the influences of an outside force is the man who has an intense desire for his own security and, by extension, the security of his family and friends (Sartwell 253). When his security is threatened, man will resort to crimes such as those seen in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. The soldiers who were forced to become security guards felt constantly under threat of attack by insurgent forces. They feel rage and fear, which consumes them. By forcing the prisoners to do both humiliating and painful things, such as pose naked with other men in highly sexual positions, the guards/soldiers feel safer, as they have removed the prisoners ability to fight (Szegedy 211). This draws back to Sartwell’s paper, which uses the crisis in Rwanda as an example to llustrate how men can turn to murder and violence in the name of public safety. The Hutus in Rwanda were formed into “ ’civilian self-defense forces’ ” (Sartwell 254) to protect against the group of individuals that they perceived as a threat to their established government. Both papers highlight how men will turn to savagery and violence in order to remain in what

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