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To understand scapegoating we must consider
how we identify and perceive our enemies. A first step is marginalization,
the processes whereby targeted individuals or groups are pictured (in
the sense of being framed) as outside the circle of wholesome mainstream
society. The next step is objectification or dehumanization, the process
of negatively labeling a person or group of people so they become perceived
more as objects rather than real people. Dehumanization often is associated
with the belief that a particular group of people are inferior or threatening.
The final step is demonization, the person or group is seen as totally
malevolent, sinful, and evil. It is easier to rationalize stereotyping,
prejudice, discrimination, and even violence against those who are
dehumanized or demonized.
Demonization fuels dualism-a form of binary
thinking that divides the world into good versus evil with no middle
ground tolerated. Dualism allows no acknowledgment of complexity, nuance,
or ambiguity in debates; and promotes hostility toward those who suggest
coexistence, toleration, pragmatism, compromise, or mediation.
Aho observes that our notions of the enemy "in
our everyday life world," is that the "enemy's presence in
our midst is a pathology of the social organism serious enough to require
the most far-reaching remedies: quarantine, political excision, or,
to use a particularly revealing, expression, liquidation and expulsion."~3
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