A recurring cliché in the digital world suggests that we live in a borderless society where distances have disappeared. Significant advancements in telecommunications have made it possible for news to reach any corner of the planet almost instantly. We are inhabiting a hyper-informed world in which, ideally, committing acts of terror against individuals or specific segments of the population would be much more challenging.

The digitization of communications would accelerate international condemnation. Hyper-connectivity would render obsolete Amnesty International’s practice of sending letters to authorities violating human rights around the world. These letters aimed to pressure governments violating human rights to listen to the international community’s demands. Essentially, letters were a means to force the protection of individuals’ physical integrity and demand compliance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

However, just because a means of communication is now digital does not imply that the vices of human nature have been eliminated. Just as the channels used for communication evolve, so do deceit, corruption, and hatred. Prejudices persist, empty promises abound, and despair becomes commonplace.

While in the past, the role of content curator in print and audiovisual media seemed important, in the digital world, where the most crucial vehicle for learning about daily news is the cellphone, people seem content to create a filter bubble that ends up indoctrinating them. Counter-argumentation has disappeared; it’s no longer necessary since thousands of people think similarly, whether they believe that Finland doesn’t exist and instead, there are only sea and military bases. Camaraderie disguises the absurd.

Thoughtful debate has died. Each individual creates his own truth; empirical evidence is fantasy, and blame is always placed on others. Everything is defined in black or white; there is no gray, let alone other colors. The number of people behaving like fanatics who consider all the actions of a political party as a single act, either all good or all bad, is increasing. It is a magnificent poison to polarize society and create enemies where there are none. No problem can’t be solved with a tweet, and no empathy can’t be resolved with a ‘like.’

The eerie part of the matter is that, unknowingly, we are succumbing to Goebbels’ propaganda principles. There is no clearer example than the current discourse on genocide that, today as yesterday, is not willing to be presented in official media. We hear criticisms, reactions to protests, and numerous ‘experts’ who coincidentally share the same opinions of the media that invites them. Like in a cowboy movie, the coverage of conflicts is reduced to the good and the bad; the background doesn’t exist.

Amid this pandemonium, we encounter images, videos, testimonies, and accusations without end. What is not found are explanations, reflections, or analysis. Why contextualize? Why bother to read history? If what happens in Darfur, Palestine, or the Belgian Congo is far from being a tragedy. It has become more important to know the reactions of influencers than of experts. New conspiracy theories are disseminated, and other actors use the content chaos to normalize what was once unthinkable. Very little humanity, Goebbels would be pleased.

Simplification leads to irrational reductionism, where a community becomes the embodiment of all evil in existence. An evil that leads to the creation of fantasies justifying the separation between the good and the others, the strangers, the invaders, the leeches that bleed us dry. The incredible thing about reductionist simplification is that its constant repetition gradually turns it into truth in the minds of many. Once you reach that state of group control, the next step is crimes against humanity. Let’s not forget that Goebbels’ propaganda justifies one of the greatest crimes in history, the Jewish Holocaust during World War II.

The principles of propaganda are so effective that we repeatedly see them being used to justify the unjustifiable, for example, genocides. A term that has been cheapened too much, especially in Latin America, where political persecutions are commonly labeled as genocidal. That’s why it’s better to go to the source; according to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of December 9, 1948, it indicates that genocide is:

“any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;

(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”

As can be observed, many conflicts could be labeled, according to this definition, as genocide. But out of simple curiosity, aside from the Holocaust, how many genocides have occurred before and after World War II? Why does there seem to be a trend of labeling massacres as genocide after they conclude? Who remembers Bangladesh, Cambodia, Guatemala, Bosnia, Rwanda, Darfur, Myanmar, and, more recently, Gaza? Why did it take decades to recognize the actions of the Germans against the Herero and Nama in Namibia as genocide?

One of the problems is that if a current conflict is declared as genocide, there is an obligation to intervene, stop the killing, and bring the perpetrators to trial. Due to geopolitical reasons, it was never a surprise that in the Western world, the events in the Balkans in the last decade of the twentieth century were declared genocide. At the same time, the testimonies of UN peacekeepers in Rwanda were ignored when the Tutsi were being massacred with machetes.

It is not possible that during the 21st century, the actions of a few murderers are enough to condemn an entire people. However, as George Orwell said in his work, “all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.” According to what social media and traditional news outlets show, this aphorism is valid in death. Gaza demonstrates that there are corpses that are worth more than others.

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