Commentary

Border Hunters Wanted!

I first saw the government’s recruitment posters for border hunters when I crossed a Schengen border by car. It was on the window of the checkpoint booth and the border guards wouldn’t let me take a photo of it.

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They don’t just recruit at border checkpoints. They are extremely active in schools and on billboards. This is the latest hint that migrants are the danger – not by any chance a corrupt government whose only economic policy is how to make more public money “lose its public quality“.

I was immediately struck by the terminology. They were recruiting for “hunters”, not border guards. As in a human killing non-human animals in an unequal confrontation – with a justification only known to humans. Let’s take a closer look at this logo.

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That little watchtower there…

Which reminds me of the government’s massive efforts to dehumanize migrants.

The governments and extremists make a great effort to dehumanize refugees as non-people. In fact, every war and genocide starts with the dehumanization of the enemy or victim. Words familiar from the animal kingdom keep popping up. Swarms of migrants arrive. People are compared to apes, worms or cockroaches.

Before the genocide in Rwanda, posters and leaflets were distributed which dehumanised Tutsis as ‘snakes’, ‘cockroaches’ and ‘animals’. Nazi propaganda used the term ‘rats’ to Jews and explained it in detail in the 1940 propaganda film “The Eternal Jew”:

“Where rats appear, they bring ruin by destroying mankind’s goods and foodstuffs. In this way, they spread disease, plague, leprosy, typhoid fever, cholera, dysentery, and so on. They are cunning, cowardly and cruel and are found mostly in large packs. Among the animals, they represent the rudiment of an insidious, underground destruction – just like the Jews among human beings.”

The film shows a montage of images of ghetto Jews juxtaposed with images of rats. One of the shots shows a pack of rats emerging from a sewer, followed by a shot of a crowd of Jews in a crowded street of the Łódź Ghetto.

Dehumanization opens up the path to killing people, to letting them die – without a shred of consciousness. If I establish that the victim is not a person, basic decency, humane treatment and reciprocity don’t apply. It is a licence to kill and let die. It is just a matter of time and our ability to explain it away, step by step.

Or in political language:

Instead of Brussels, border hunters protected us from terrorism and mass violence.

Said PM Orbán at the initiation of the latest batch of border hunters in January 2017.

In a completely unrelated news he also proposed ordered the construction of 197 shooting ranges in Hungary because every citizen has to… whatever. I wouldn’t want to be a migrant (or a shooting range owner) these days.

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Featured image: Orbán’s speech to the new recruits, January 2017 – Index.hu 

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