Demonization is a type of propaganda tool often used to install feelings of disgust, rejection, criticism, hatred, or fear towards a certain belief, an organization or (at its worst) entire nations - it is a powerful and dangerous weapon that can have devastating effects if not opposed and is heavily utilized by oppressive societies such as despotic dictatorships and destructive cults.
Demonization can also occur as a response to particularly devastating events such as crime, terrorism or war - in which public anger and fear may either be played upon or result in a negative stereotyping of a group seen as the "enemy".
Dangers of Demonization
If not defeated the process of Demonization results in a rapid decline in respect for the target group, who become more abused by the masses and if left too long can ultimately become the victims of Genocide as the process of Demonization makes them "less than human" in the eyes of those under its control. Good examples of this phenomena are Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party, who demonized Jews (Hebrews), Slavs (Poles and Russians), blacks (Africans and Afro-Americans), Gypsies (Romani people), and many other ethnic groups by preaching to his followers that they were sub-human animals and were the cause of all the world's problems. This happened a lot during World War II, especially in the war with Japan, in which both America and Japan taught that the enemy was a barbaric and worthless people. Even before World War II, demonization was strong. During the Indian Wars, white (Caucasian) Americans spread propaganda around to make the Native Americans look like savage and monstrous animals, same thing with dark skinned people.
Even in modern day, we still able to see impact of demonization: Al-Qaeda and many other terrorist groups also use this tactic against the Western world to fuel their followers' hatred towards them. In return, many people in the Western world believe Islam is a evil religion that is based on raping women and young girls, turning boys into child soldiers at a young age and making the world a theocracy.
Examples In Fiction
- The Alliance and the Horde regularly demonize each other in Warcraft.
- The Imperium of Man not only demonizes every non-human species in existence but also holds a creed of absolute xenophobia, making them an extreme example of a society that uses this tactic.
- Judge Claude Frollo tried to demonize the Gypsies as an excuse to ruthlessly oppress them, he also demonized Quasimodo for being deformed (a form of violence against the disabled).
- Governor Ratcliffe demonized the Native Americans so as to get an excuse to steal their land - his actions also led to the Native Americans demonizing the settlers (due to Ratcliff's warlike nature).
- Many extreme "killer" vigilantes such as Manchester Black and the Punisher demonize criminals so as to justify the taking of life (disregarding the idea of rehabilitation or redemption) - promoting the idea of all criminals as soulless subhuman beings.
- Mutantphobia is basically the process of demonizing mutants, almost exclusive to the Marvel Comics universe.