Dehumanizing the Enemy

Dehumanizing the enemy involves denying the enemy’s humanity by negating in the enemy the characteristics normally associated with human beings, such as morality and compassion, and instead associating the enemy with acts of evil and depravity that merit forceful action and retaliation. Dehumanizing an enemy during conflict forms part of the psychological offensive of war, and the image created of the enemy plays an important role in enabling soldiers to fight and kill as required during war and in encouraging civilians to support the actions of war and to maintain their enthusiasm for it as the casualty figures start to rise. The fear of what will happen if a demonized enemy is not overcome—or at least pushed back or contained—becomes a tool to justify why ...

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