Quotations about   demonization

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Life’s easier when you can write off others as monsters, as demons, as horrible threats that must be hated and feared. The thing is, you can’t do that without becoming them, just a little.

Jim Butcher (b. 1971) American author
White Night (2007)
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Added on 13-Jan-22 | Last updated 13-Jan-22
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It is tempting to say that a Nazi murderer is beyond the pale of understanding. […] Yet to deny a human being his human character is to render ethics impossible. To yield to this temptation, to find other people inhuman, is to take a step toward, not away from, the Nazi position. To find other people incomprehensible is to abandon the search for understanding, and thus to abandon history.

Timothy Snyder (b. 1969) American historian, author
Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin, “Conclusion” (2010)
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Added on 7-Jul-21 | Last updated 7-Jul-21
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Once we have labeled someone as “evil” there is often no limit to the cruelty and violence we can feel justified in administering to him ….

James Gilligan (b. c. 1936) American psychiatrist and author
Preventing Violence (2001)
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Added on 16-Jun-21 | Last updated 16-Jun-21
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It was so much easier to blame it on Them. It was bleakly depressing to think that They were Us. If it was Them, then nothing was anyone’s fault. If it was us, what did that make Me? After all, I’m one of Us. I must be. I’ve certainly never thought of myself as one of Them. No one ever thinks of themselves as one of Them. We’re always one of Us. It’s Them that do the bad things.

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
Jingo (1988)
Added on 23-Feb-21 | Last updated 23-Feb-21
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The Lord created us in His image and likeness, and we are the image of the Lord, and He does good and all of us have this commandment at heart: do good and do not do evil. All of us. “But, Father, this is not Catholic! He cannot do good.” Yes, he can. He must. Not can: must! Because he has this commandment within him. Instead, this “closing off” that imagines that those outside, everyone, cannot do good is a wall that leads to war and also to what some people throughout history have conceived of: killing in the name of God. That we can kill in the name of God. And that, simply, is blasphemy. To say that you can kill in the name of God is blasphemy.

Francis I (b. 1936) Argentinian Catholic Pope (2013- ) [b. Jorge Mario Bergoglio]
Homily (22 May 2013)
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Added on 28-Sep-15 | Last updated 28-Sep-15
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People do these things to other people. Not just in Nazi concentration camps and in Abu Ghraib when it was run by Saddam Hussein. Americans, too, do them when they have permission. When they are told or made to feel that those over whom they have absolute power deserve to be mistreated, humiliated, tormented. They do them when they are led to believe that the people they are torturing belong to an inferior, despicable race or religion. For the meaning of these pictures is not just that these acts were performed, but that their perpetrators had no sense that there was anything wrong in what the pictures show.

Susan Sontag (1933-2004) American essayist, novelist, activist
“Regarding the Torture of Others,” New York Times (23 May 2004)

On the photos of Iraqi prisoners tortured by Americans in Abu Ghraib.
Added on 14-Jan-09 | Last updated 31-May-19
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The thing about monsters is, you want to kill them until you meet them, and when you meet them they don’t seem monstrous, and killing them begins to seem unkind.

Robert B. Parker (1932-2010) American writer
Crimson Joy (1988)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 12-Apr-17
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There is some soul of goodness in things evil,
Would men observingly distil it out.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Henry V, Act 4, sc. 1, l. 4 (1599)
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See Spencer.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 9-Apr-18
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