As noted in the earlier essays, demonizing is a rhetorical strategy that aims at casting the target as evil, corrupt, dangerous or threatening. Demonizing can also be used to fuel or intensify other fallacies. One such fallacy is demonic justification.
Demonic justification is a fallacy in which a target is demonized in order to justify how the target is being treated, such as actions taken against the target or policies enacted that are detrimental to the target. The fallacy has the following form:
Premise 1: Target person or group T is demonized.
Conclusion: Action A against T is justified.
The reason that the conclusion does not follow from the premises is that the action taken is justified by demonization rather than actual reasons. Since demonization, by definition, involves making either selective, exaggerated or false claims, demonization cannot justify an action. It must also be noted that committing this fallacy does not entail that the action is unjustified; as with any fallacy the conclusion is not disproven because it is the conclusion of a fallacy (to think otherwise is to fall victim to the fallacy fallacy).
This fallacy is, as would be expected, often used to try to justify damaging, harsh and even brutal actions or policies. It derives its power from the willingness of people to engage in demonizing and the not unreasonable belief that harsh measures must be taken against the wicked. This technique is often used in war to motivate and try to justify the killing of enemy soldiers. It is also a powerful tool in domestic politics and is often used to try to justify discriminatory and racist policies under the guise of dealing with bad people. For example, throughout history migrants have been demonized as diseased criminals who are out to steal jobs from native workers. This demonizing has been used to try to justify harsh immigration policies and even violence against migrants. As another example, Stalinists and Maoists have historically demonized their targets, thus attempting to justify their harsh and brutal measures.
The main defense against demonic justification is being aware that demonization is occurring and this can happen when one takes the time to seriously ask if the claims are true. Since people are influenced strongly by their biases, prejudices and stereotypes, this can be very challenging. People also like to believe that they are on the side of good and are battling evil, and demonization plays right into this.