Why it matters when the president calls people, even violent gang members, ‘animals’

“These aren’t people,” President Trump said Wednesday at a White House meeting with California officials. “These are animals.” In a tweet Friday morning, Trump specified that he was referring to MS-13 gang members and not “Immigrants, or Illegal Immigrants,” in general, and called this “a big difference.” Is it, though? Also, Trump has said many negative things about many groups; why should his choice of term here, regardless of whether it was applied narrowly to a murderous gang, be particularly troubling?

The answer to both questions lies in the distinction between dehumanization — seeing people as animals — and prejudice or dislike. Dehumanization is associated with hostility and antagonistic behavior, and it's not the same as dislike.

Full article here.

Collectively blaming groups for the actions of individuals can license vicarious retribution. Acts of terrorism by Muslim
extremists against innocents, and the spikes in anti-Muslim hate crimes against innocent Muslims that follow, suggest that
reciprocal bouts of collective blame can spark cycles of violence. How can this cycle be short-circuited? After establishing a
link between collective blame of Muslims and anti-Muslim attitudes and behavior, we used an “interventions tournament” to
identify a successful intervention (among many that failed). The “winning” intervention reduced collective blame of Muslims
by highlighting hypocrisy in the ways individuals collectively blame Muslims—but not other groups (White Americans,
Christians)—for individual group members’ actions. After replicating the effect in an independent sample, we demonstrate
that a novel interactive activity that isolates the psychological mechanism amplifies the effectiveness of the collective blame
hypocrisy intervention and results in downstream reductions in anti-Muslim attitudes and anti-Muslim behavior.