The Tools of Fear

Why Trump's Bigoted Rhetoric Matters

From Prejudice to Scripted Violence:
How Systems of Oppression are Created and Maintained

Prejudice + Power = Oppression

Formula for
Systems of Oppression

Some Common Prejudices

(Ideas / Beliefs)

Forms of Discrimination

(Actions / Acts)

Arenas in which
Power Struggles Take Place

The Processes
that Forge the
Tools of Fear

The Outcome of
Passive or
Active Aggression
is Oppression

   + Power
   = Oppression

This simple formula
allows us to discuss interrelated
"Systems of Oppression"

Some specific prejudices
and/or bigoted ideologies are
listed in the
next column.


Religious Triumphalism*

(and many more)

i.e. person to person

Structural (defacto)*
i.e. within kinship, family, and/or societal structures.

Systemic (defacto)*
i.e. political systems (social democracy, fascism), economic systems

Institutional (defacto)*
i.e. Fox News, Tea Parties, John Birch Society, Heritage Foundation, Free Congress Foundation,

Legal (dejure)*
i.e. Courts, Police, Parole officers, FBI, etc.

These can occur singly or in combinations.


Unfair power & privilege maintained by social, cultural, economic, or political pressures (norms) create systems of oppression or even acts of repression, violence, and murder.

In the most extreme forms these power struggles, especially over land, lead to genocide.

Scapegoating Dehumanization

These processes are based on ideas (Ideologies) and can produce acts of
Passive or
Active Aggression
ranging from snubs and verbal slurs to physical violence.

Media: the printing press, telegraph, radio, and Internet each expanded the reach of mobilizing resentment and acts of mass aggression.*

Individual Attacks
Group Attacks

Apocalyptic Aggression
is action sparked by fear that an existential threat is near; and that time is running out to protect the deserving community; so therefore authoritarian, coercive, or violent solutions are justified.

Conspiracist theories
claiming subversion and treachery are spread by demagogues who name scapegoated groups thus identifying individual targets for abuse and/or violence.

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Psychological & Sociological Mechanisms:

Social Cognition | Social Identity | Social Categorization | Ethnocentrism | Confirmation/Disconfirmation Bias
Social Dominance | Normalization | Peer Pressure | Intergroup Hostility | Projection | Exemplary Dualism
Subversion Panics | Interpersonal Aggression | Authoritarianism | Justification

Definitions and Explanations

*Xenophobia simply means fear of "strange things;" or people defined as "strange," "outsiders" or "not like us."
Xenophobia is the social basis of anti-immigrant movements.

*Nativism is an awkward term originally used by bigots to define the ideal society as
being composed of certain types of persons sharing an ethnicity, religion, or race.
Social science adopted the term to describe such movements.
The awful irony is that people who claim to be "nativists" often have
enslaved, expelled, or murdered the actual original indigenous "native" peoples.

*Religious Triumphalism is when a religion claims that it is the only "true" religion and only they are blessed by God.

*The idea and terminology for "Structural" forms of discrimination comes from the Social Sciences,
especially sociology and its study of family and kinship as well as larger social structures

*"defacto" means "in fact" or "in reality" "dejure" means "in the law" or "done legally."

*Media: prejudice, discrimination, and acts of passive or active aggression existed for many centuries
before the invention of the printing press. However the printing press, telegraph, radio, and Internet each expanded
the power of demagogic scapegoating to
mobilize resentment among populations;
enhanced the ability to recruit people into mass social and political movements;
and facilitated acts of mass aggression and violence.
Genocide of entire targeted populations was mechanized by the ability of dispersed units
to carry out their aggressive and violent actions across great distances in a coordinated and simultaneous manner..

*Exclusion can appear:
---on a national level with bans on immigration by specific groups of people, or
---on a local social level such as country clubs and golf courses that have a formal or informal system
by which only people from a certain race, gender, or class are accepted by members.
---In the past legal covenants were common. Today, informal agreements can and do produce the same results.

Chart by Chip Berlet

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