“Demonizing the enemy,” quickly turns into “Dehumanizing the enemy.”
Dehumanization is a psychological process whereby opponents view each other as less than human and thus not deserving of moral consideration. Individuals viewed as outside the scope of morality and justice do not deserve basic needs and fair treatment. Any harm that befalls such individuals seems warranted, and perhaps even morally justified.
When the Nazis described Jews as “Untermenschen,” or subhumans, they didn’t mean it metaphorically. They meant they were literally subhuman. Does that sound familiar? An enemy image is a negative stereotype where the other side is viewed as evil, in contrast to one’s own side, which is seen as good. Similar to dehumanization and stereotyping, the propaganda technique of demonizing the enemy aims at evoking a very negative emotion by associating the “enemy” or opposing group as evil, immoral, subhuman, or barbaric. Because the other side has come to be viewed as a “diabolical enemy,” the conflict is framed as a war between good and evil with the anti-hunters believing they are good, and the hunters are evil.
Hunters are not innocent in all of this. The psychological process whereby a person is seen as a member of a category or group rather than as an individual is referred to as Deindividuation which facilitates dehumanization as well… People who are deindividuated seem less than fully human; they are viewed as less protected by social norms. This makes it easier to rationalize contentious and negative assumptions against the enemy. Hunters refer to anti-hunters as wolf lovers, wolf humpers, cultists and even terrorists. There is no love lost between these two groups.
The psychological process of dehumanization might be mitigated or reversed through humanization efforts, the development of empathy, the establishment of personal relationships between conflicting parties and the pursuit of common goals or common ground. This explains my role in this conflict or at the very least should explain why I bother. There is a conflict that needs to be resolved and before it can, both sides need to take a step back, open their minds and try again. Yes, it will take some work, but this hatred must stop!
This does explain the images of Adolf Hitler… What about the wolves?
To be continued…