Dehumanization is the psychological process of depriving a person or group of positive human qualities in order to control or destroy them. History has proven time and time again that this process leads to persecution, violence and mass murder.
Hitler dehumanized Jews, whom he referred to as rats and parasites traveling in packs like dogs. His rhetoric was so strong that he convinced many nations to help the German’s herd Jews into concentration camps, brand them with numbers and eventually exterminate about 6 million.
But Hitler has nothing on the left who have spent the last 50 years dehumanizing unborn children as mere blobs of cells, parasites totally devoid of the right to life. They have succeeded in convincing women to murder 1.72 billion (and counting) children, not only destroying their lives but the future of their nation. An unborn child is not an object – it is a human being!
Today, unfortunately, there is a growing tendency to politicalize and dehumanize anyone who holds beliefs different from the flavor of the day. Former speechwriter Michael Gerson recently wrote that “the rival crew, it turns out, is not only wrong but evil. And how can mortal enemies embrace the give and take of a shared political project? Only the raw exercise of power can decide between them. The goal is no longer to win arguments but to crush opposition.”
Once certain groups are stigmatized as evil, morally inferior, and not fully human, the persecution of those groups becomes more psychologically acceptable.
Restraints against aggression and violence begin to disappear. Not surprisingly, dehumanization increases the likelihood of violence and once the conflict has escalated, it may seem even more acceptable for people to do things that they would have regarded as morally unthinkable before.
In a recent Vanderbilt University study, people were asked to rank members of their own political party and the opposing party on an evolutionary scale represented by modern humans on one side and apelike creatures on the other. The study’s authors wrote in a Washington Post article that “77% of our respondents rated their political opponents as less evolved than members of their own party. Respondents who considered themselves strong partisans were more likely to dehumanize opposing partisans, and Republicans and Democrats were equally likely to dehumanize their opponents.”
Some of America’s politicians, commentators and other leaders, especially those on the left, now genuinely believe their opponents to be inherently evil. Some now openly encourage the verbal and physical abuse of opponents. Congresswoman Maxine Waters, for example, routinely urges supporters to confront President Trump’s supporters. “If you see anybody from that cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd. You push back on them. Tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere!” she screamed.
America’s most influential actors and artists also routinely deploy the language of hatred and violence toward Trump and his followers. Turn on the television on any given night and there’s a good chance you’ll see Bill Maher, Jimmy Kimmel and others demonizing America’s president and his followers. These men don’t merely despise their opponent’s policies or ideologies, or even his appearance or mannerisms—very often it’s evident that they openly despise Trump’s very existence.
If such a spirit of hatred remains unchecked, and if you believe your enemy is an animal, it’s easier to treat him like an animal. The forces behind the tendency to dehumanize the enemy are now overpowering; the spirit of competition and hatred has become so strong as to make some capable of committing extreme acts of violence.
You can see this terrifying future even now: in the demonization of Trump and his supports, of the animosity against Amy Barrett and her supporters, in the vitriolic accusations America’s leaders routinely levy on one another and on segments of American society, and in the sadistic, violence-inducing, nation-destroying remarks regularly made by media personalities, music moguls and Hollywood stars.
“Dehumanization, although a concrete historical fact, is not a given destiny but the result of an unjust order that engenders violence in the oppressors, which in turn dehumanizes the oppressed.” Paulo Freire