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Demonization is when a demagogue, or group of demagogues, paints their ideological enemies or scapegoats in terms intended to render them as irredeemably evil and fit only for destruction, which is usually presented as 'self-defense'. Possibly the best-known example of demonization in the 20th century was the Nazis' demonization of Jews, which played off of existing antisemitism for political gain and eventually led to the Holocaust.

Advantages of demonization for an unscrupulous politician

  • Gives followers an easy target for all their pent-up frustration.
  • Distracts them from any real causes for their problems which you may not be able or willing to cure.
  • If the demonized group is a political rival, reduces the risk that followers will defect to the rivals' group.

Recent examples

Olson discusses the Clintons' method of dealing with enemies, which is straight out of the writings of left-wing crank Saul Alinsky: demonize, polarize, and destroy. Witness Ken Starr, Newt Gingrich, Paula Jones, et al. Olson, a former Senate counsel who investigated the Clinton Administration's FBI file caper and Travel Office fiasco [1]

See also

Further reading


  1. Hell to Pay : The Unfolding Story of Hillary Rodham Clinton, Reviews, retrieved 05/21/07.
  2. Edwards Calls Coulter 'She-Devil', ABC News, August 17, 2007.