The Lucifer Effect by Zimbardo, 2007, Excerpts
Among the operational principles we must add to our arsenal of weapons that trigger evil acts by ordinarily good men and women are those developed by nation-states to incite their own citizens. Nations prepare their young men to engage in deadly wars while also preparing citizens to endorse engaging in wars of aggression. Propaganda helps accomplish this difficult transformation. Images of the enemy are created by national media propaganda, in complicity with governments, to prepare the minds of soldiers and citizens to hate those who fit the new category “your enemy". Such mental conditioning is a soldier’s most potent weapon. Without it, he might never put another young man in the cross-hairs of his gun sight and fire to kill him.
In creating a new evil enemy in the minds of good members of righteous tribes, “the enemy” is: aggressor, faceless, rapist, godless, barbarian, greedy, criminal, torturer, murderer, an abstraction, or a dehumanized animal. Scary images reveal one’s nation being consumed by the animals that are most universally feared: snakes, rats, spiders, insects, lizards, gigantic gorillas, octopi, or even “English pigs.”
In the News:
US military apologizes to Afghans over offensive propaganda leaflet
07 Sep 2017
The US military in Afghanistan has apologized for distributing propaganda leaflets featuring a passage from the Qur’an superimposed on to the image of a dog, considered unclean in Islam, which causes offence to Muslims. The leaflets depict a lion chasing a dog bearing a Qur’anic passage that appears on banners used by Taliban militants. The recent leaflet reads: “Take back your freedom from the terrorist dogs and cooperate with coalition forces so they can identify and eliminate your enemy.” Dropping propaganda leaflets is a basic part of military psychology operations, and has been widely used by coalition forces in Afghanistan. The method has at times had detrimental outcomes. In 2009 a box of leaflets dropped from a British Royal Air Force plane landed on and killed a young Afghan girl in Helmand after it failed to open in mid-air.
US airdrops anti-Isis propaganda cartoon over Syrian city of Raqqa
27 Mar 2015
The latest US attempt at combatting the Islamic State’s social-media-borne propaganda is decidedly low-tech: leaflet drops displaying a grisly cartoon that portrays the jihadist army as indifferent murders.