To idolize, according to Dictionary.com is to “admire, revere, or love greatly or excessively”. And to lionize is “to treat a person as a celebrity”.
The same source defines idolization as a way “to regard with blind adoration, devotion, etc.” or “to worship as a god”. To demonize, on the other hand, and from the same source, is “to turn [someone] into a demon or make [someone] demon-like”.
This is when one human being with an agenda targets and brainwashes a victim – an innocent but clueless human being. This is done with one main objective in mind – to make the clueless person hate a targeted individual, culture, race, religion, an unfamiliar way of governance, an economic policy, a political party, and or an ethnic group, among so many others. Demonization is the act of sowing the seed of discord and hatred.
It is the act of painting something or someone bad, dark, and dangerous. It remains a scheme of some oppressors to keep their base in darkness and deception. It has become one of the most potent, and undoubtedly, a very dangerous weapon in the hands of those who are hell-bent on maintaining control or hold on a system, people, and the economy.
First one is religion. Any religion that demonizes the others has one goal in mind – to prevent its base from exploring the truth about those that are demonized.
Those engaged in this kind of act will do anything to prevent their followers from doing any independent search. They must not read, and they are prohibited from researching or seeking clarification from any other religious book. In some parts of the world today, people are killed for their faith.
Those doing the killing were brainwashed to believe that they were doing God a favor. But, does God need a mere human intervention to resolve an issue or defend his name? Obviously, God doesn’t need to run after someone He wants to get.
Anyone who believes in the concept of God as the most merciful and most gracious will know that He cannot behave contrary to His name and nature. But in the 21st century world, we still have nations promulgating death penalty for someone who decides to switch faith or switch off from faith completely.
Closely related to this is the crazy idea of demonizing a whole nation and her ways of life. For example, some people are quick to demonize countries in North America for being “Christian”, hence, tagged as ‘devilish’, despite the democratic secular nature of the countries – which has pushed ‘Christianity’ into a tight corner.
For example, public policy has been used to completely keep Christianity out of the school system despite a huge number of tax payers’ objection. I once had an encounter with someone who came from a closed society. After assisting the young man in resolving his problem, he expressed shock that I could go the distance to assist him since I did not share the same faith with him.
He later confessed to me that he was shocked to realize that people in North America are not the devils he was raised to believe. I was not surprised, but I assured him that we are both human, and so, our allegiance should be to the human family first!
Second one is the demonization of targeted individuals. When the last US presidential campaign started unfolding, I was shocked to listen to a very brilliant 16-year old girl who wouldn’t want to have anything to do with Hillary Clinton.
So, I asked – what exactly is her offence, given her prolific experience, tenacity, intelligence and loyalty to her husband and daughter. I quickly realized that the young lady had been brainwashed by one of the opposing candidates’ campaign of calumny. It turned out to be a ploy to hide the demonizer’s shortcomings.
I did tell the young lady that the only reason why some people demonized Hillary Clinton was because they see her as the strongest opposition, and the only way to stop her was to lie against her consistently.
It turned out that I was right. I had fun with my neighbor who was supporting the man that lied consistently against Hillary Clinton. I had earlier mentioned to my friend and neighbor that in life, anyone looking for dirt on another human being is a “demonizer” whose act may just have confirmed how empty the “demonizer” was and is – and this has always been due to lack of sound ideas and plans by the “demonizer”.
Today, my friend/neighbor is still shocked about how he got sucked into believing the lies of the “demonizer”. I simply told him: “Because you were brainwashed”.
When this was playing out, I had referred him to a part of the world where they force their people to blame America for anything that wasn’t going right.
They turned the people to robots who wouldn’t think or analyze issues objectively. They turned their lovely and relational people into angry human beings with hatred in their hearts. These lovely people were distracted from knowing, and subsequently, from questioning their exploitation.
Third one is culture. Although very subtle today, but over centuries, some people were harshly demonized and framed as barbaric, weird, and unsophisticated.
It was a time when someone will openly boast that he discovered a group of people at the other end of the world – when he should just have explained the meeting of two cultures, since the so-called discovered people did not just happen to appear suddenly on earth.
It later resulted in kids being snatched from their demonized parents – described as backward, useless or even, as complete fools. When a culture is demonized, the kids from such cultures walk around in shame with their heads permanently bowed.
When a culture is demonized, the adults are driven to the edge as they cannot unlearn who they are at such an old age. When a culture is demonized, public policy instruments are used to harass, gag, force or even criminalize an entire people group.
The way the Indigenous Peoples were treated continues to be a serious issue that are still being addressed. In addition to financial reparation, a deliberate attempt to teach Indigenous culture and ways of life in schools across North America should be encouraged. Areas where the people and their culture may have been demonized in the past should be reversed.
Race is the fourth one. Why would a well-trained cop in the US open fire on a defenseless young Black male or female? True, part of it could be due to poor police training and the reputation of some black gangs, but the major issue is demonization.
If the only news report on television and radio continuously regurgitate the same old story line of Blacks being dangerous, uneducated, gang-involved and a gun-running set of people, how would a scared police officer not open fire at the slightest opportunity or provocation?
The Black race remains the most demonized of all races – including the pictorial display of demons as dark or black-toned. In fact, it has been pointed out that apart from “blackberry”, the word “black” is associated with many negative things like ‘black eye’, ‘blackmail’, ‘blackout’, and ‘blacklist’.
However, when your account is in ‘black’, its an indication that you have more cash to spare, even though most Black people around the world are living on less than roughly three dollars a day.
It may take centuries for the Black race to recover from the wounds of demonization. Sadly, many will continue to be wrongly arrested, and become victims of miscarriage of justice in the US. Many will still be shot. And the system will continue to fail so many people.
The major reason is that it is a race so demonized that only God can disabuse the minds of some people. Unfortunately, a Black person has no hiding place, as you know him for his demonized identity from a thousand miles away!
Finally, the way of governance is another one. Liberal democracy is reputed to be the best form of governance. Most other approaches have been demonized as evil.
While it is true that liberal democracy guarantees freedom, creates enabling environment for business, growth and development, it is sadly not the whole truth. No liberal democracy runs on auto-pilot.
Ghosts are not the ones manning the drones of democracy. Human beings do – and these human beings usually know what they are supposed to do! Sadly, the cultures, mores, traditions, customs and even religious overtones in most established democracies created an unforeseen burden for new and emerging democracies.
However, instead of creating an understanding between these two contending forces, the entire tradition and customs are demonized and condemned. Why? Because we lionize and idolize demonization.
So, what should we do? We must avoid making unverified generalization. We must abhor the lionization of anything evil or negative, especially when it is divisive, disruptive, and destructive. We must never entertain idolization.
We must shun and stop demonization and demoralization if we truly want to avoid dastard and destructive desolation that will be caused by this abomination.
(❚ Dr. Sunday Akin Olukoju is the Director of Distance Education of Providence Theological Seminary, a community newspaper correspondent, and the president of a community organization)