Bloomberg View recently ran a powerful article titled, “Islamic State Is Just an Umbrella Brand for Hate.” Leonid Bershidsky’s compelling piece reaffirms to me that a large part of ISIS’ success has sprung from its deft combination of the age-old rules of propaganda with the novel accessibility of social media. ISIS’ twisted (yet carefully calibrated) message can be broadcast both faster and more directly than ever to horrific effect.
The message that propagandists cultivate tends to grow through three stages of attack. First, propaganda demeans the target group, then degrades them, and ultimately dehumanizes them entirely. This subtle escalation of rhetoric is the slippery slope that allows propagandists to infect the minds and hearts of those who hear their message.