The meaning that we give to events and the way that we make sense of our world is based on our core belief system. It is as though we are looking at the world through coloured lenses – and everyone has their own personal colour lenses.
Our belief system acts as a “mental filter” through which we experience and interpret events or facts. It determines the meaning of the fact (i.e. opinion) and how we are affected by it.
It is therefore important that our opinions are factually accurate. Let us take the controversial issue of “White Genocide” as an example. It is well known that rightwing groups in South Africa are currently of the opinion that there is or at least will be a “White Genocide”. They base their opinion on the work and opinion of Dr. Gregory Stanton who is known for creating an eight-stage system of indicators to determine if a country is going to embark on annihilation.
If we look at the unacceptable high violent crime rate in South Africa (fact) through the coloured lenses of Stanton, it is easy to see how someone can interpret this fact to form the opinion that “genocide” is real. However, once one takes a closer look at the man behind this opinion, one has to question the factual accuracy of his opinion and the credibility of his personal interpretation of events:
• Stanton realized he had to devote his life to the prevention of genocide in 1981, while sitting in the office of a Yale psychiatrist when he suffered from a deep depression.
• He subsequently became the founder (1999) and president of Genocide Watch (www.genocidewatch.org), the founder (1981) and director of the Cambodian Genocide Project, and is the founder (1999) and Chair of the International Campaign to End Genocide.
• His diplomatic past includes abuses of Foreign Service privileges to evade prosecution. While working for the Foreign Service in 1998 Stanton allegedly rammed his car into a Virginia video rental store owner after becoming incensed over a $4.50 late fee. A year after the assault charges, Stanton was fired by the State Department for unrelated cause.
• The bulk of Stanton’s published work concerns prevention of genocide in Cambodia and Rwanda. He appears to apply this model rigidly to any conflict situation in all country regardless of its relevance to different ethnical, cultural, political or any other variables. However, he has often been criticised for his inability to separate fact from propaganda, and was yet again the centre of controversy during 2012 for riling up fear about Iran, claiming that it was about to commit “genocide” against Israel. He placed Iran in the seventh—maybe even eighth—stage and on the 18th of September he gave Iranian diplomats five days to leave the country. He was, however, unable to explain why anti-Israel rhetoric from Iran confirms that nuclear war is on the horizon.
• During July 2012, Stanton also places South Africa on Stage 6 of Genocide and urged Afrikaners to flee the country.
Based on the above facts, one has to be concerned about the tendency of some to merely accept the opinions of "the father of genocide" as an accurate reflection of reality.
Because viewing life through "Stanton's lenses" automatically triggers the human fear system, it can elicit very strong emotions, especially in those who already base their views on the cultural and political beliefs of white supremacy and racism. It therefore has the potential to become a very dangerous yet effective tool for rightwing propaganda and creating racial tension, thus becoming the proverbial blade in the hands of a monkey (or in this case, a tribe of monkeys).
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