Whoah, a thread that can’t be Godwin’d. Nice.
Dehumanization seems to be based on being able to point out how weird, different, and ‘unnatural’ or ‘wrong’ other cultures are. Because they’re weird and unnatural, they must be inferior. Otherwise, we would be, right? And we couldn’t accept that. Naturally, we want to be the best and to be right.
I think we’ve made a lot of progress by opening up the world with tech, specifically communications. What would seem weird, different, and unnatural in our grandparents’ time (when they mostly only dealt with people from their own hometown) is normal to us because we’re exposed to it all the time on the 'net and TV. We’re global. Our kids even moreso.
If we see somebody with a passion gap, we don’t assume they’re subhuman, even if we’re not from South Africa. We can talk to people in Scandinavia directly and from what they tell us learn that their socialist medical care isn’t really far worse than our corporate medical care. We may not know Asian cultures, but we’ve met and dealt with Asians who were nice people. We’ve met people, decent people, from many religions, so a ‘foreign’ religion doesn’t seem like some kind of alien thing.
How can someone dehumanize in a world like this?
In the U.S., it seems to be based mostly on economics (the poor vs. the rest of us), immigration (“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” - but not if they’re different!), and religion (they’re fanatics!). But I hope and believe that that doesn’t work for the majority of people younger than me. I’d like to think that they’re better than us and previous generations. They can talk to people directly and see firsthand that they’re not that different.
I like to believe that dehumanizers are a dying breed and soon no one is going to believe their propaganda. They’re still around, of course, but mostly just spitting into the wind.