Why is it that during times of war people see the enemy of as animals, as monsters, as barbarians, as devil or death? Put differently, why do people dehumanize the enemy? What purpose does it serve?
Social psychologist Sam Keen offers some answers in his book and a doc based on the book. Here's the beginning of the doc. I'd encourage you to see the rest.
How do we dehumanize? Why do we dehumanize? Why do we make the enemy less than human?
According to Keen, there are a dozen or so common ways that the enemy is seen.
Keen argues that the enemy is dehumanized because it justifies the killing of the enemy. If the enemy is not a civilized human like us, then, according to Keen, the guilt associated with killing then enemy is greatly lessened and killing is easier.
Faces of the Enemy: Reflections of the Hostile Imagination : The Psychology of Enmity by Sam Keen
During World War II the Nazis dehumanized Jewish people. Notice the dehumanization of Jewish people in the Nazi propaganda film called the "Eternal Jews". Watch at least the first five minutes of the film. What was the purpose of this dehumanization of Jewish people?
Just in a 5 minute clip from about 13:45 to 18:37, what dehumanizing metaphors are used?
If you are interested, for more a detailed study of the dehumanizing metaphors used in The Eternal Jew, see:
Hassencahl F. & Hart, W. B. (March, 2013). A fantasy-theme analysis of Der Ewige Jude (The Eternal Jew): From WWII Nazi propaganda to YouTube today. A paper presented at the national Popular Culture Association convention, Washington, DC.
Note: See in relationship between dehumanizing an enemy in war time and racism?
Spot any dehumanization in the following U.S. training film from World War II?
The following is a 1945 World War II propaganda film released by the U.S. War Department entitled "Know Your Enemy: Japan" Who watched this film? What was the purpose of the film?
Even Dr. Seuss took part in the propaganda effort. See the presentation "Dr. Seuss Goes to War:The World War II Editorial Cartons of Theodor Seuss Geisel" (see specifically 35:00-44:00).
Dr. Seuss Goes to War: The World War II Editorial Cartoons of Theodor Seuss Geisel
Other examples from WWII, Cold War, etc.:
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