Whatever the details, it's a form of name-calling that's intended to deride or dehumanize someone.
EXAMPLES AND ANALYSIS
"Muslims who support Trump is like chickens for Colonel Sanders, you know what I mean?"-- Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), May 24, 2016, referring to Republican presidential contender Donald Trump. Trump had previously made comments to the effect that Muslims should briefly be barred from entering the country. Colonel Sanders was the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken, a fast food business.
Comment: Ellison is comparing Muslims to chickens – though not in the sense of dehumanizing Muslims – and Trump to Sanders – though (I'm assuming) not in the sense that Trump is going to do violence to Muslims. Ellison is simply making the point that – just like chickens wouldn't be a fan of Sanders – Muslims wouldn't or shouldn't be a fan of Trump.
"But everything was fine until these people start disrupting things. And, by the way, they are not the lovable, little peaceful fuzzballs. These are not people showing up hoping to be heard and protest and get their point of view out. They're trying to shut these events down and they jostle people around. They shove. These are not nice people, if I can just be as simplistic about it as possible. They're mean little angry troglodytes, these leftist protesters, and they have only one purpose, and that's to shut down these events and disrupt them for whatever reason. They get their jollies or they don't want the event to go on. They want to make it look like there are many more people opposed to whoever it is conducting the rally than there are supporters."-- Pundit Rush Limbaugh, March 14, 2016, referring to a rally held by Republican presidential contender Donald Trump held two days earlier, which was disrupted by protesters.
Comment: Limbaugh is demonizing – "these are not nice people" – and dehumanizing – "troglodytes" – the Trump protesters.
"He has a very, very highly developed lizard brain. … He has a feral intelligence. He reminds me of the Emperor Caligula who got his greatest pleasure from destroying his opponents and humiliating them, and he is brilliant at that. But he doesn't know anything about policy".-- Pundit Joe Klein, February 18, 2016, referring to Republican presidential contender Donald Trump.
Comment: Klein is demonizing and dehumanizing Trump. Also, does Trump literally know nothing about policy?
"The thing about — there is a troll-like quality to Cruz. He operates below the level of human life. … Let me clarify it. I think he appeals — I think he appeals to people’s negativity rather than their joy. I don’t think people feel good about voting for Cruz, I think they feel — I don’t know what it is he appeals to. Now, people keep telling me he has inherited the libertarian crowd. I don’t see how. He doesn’t seem libertarian to me. He’s appealed to the Baptists up here, I don’t understand that. What is he, a theocrat? Maybe he is. I'm serious about the guy, there’s something enlivening about these other candidates that makes you feel good. There’s something about that guy – who’s always reminded me of Joe McCarthy – and there’s something about him that is negative and menacing. When I say below the level of human life, I mean the good nature of human life, not just being a person. Although –"-- Pundit Chris Matthews, February 10, 2016, referring to Republican presidential contender Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). Matthews was interrupted at the end of his remarks.
Comment: Matthews seems to pull back from using "subhuman" rhetoric to demonize Cruz (though it's not clear where he was about to go at the end of his statement), but he nonetheless does demonize Cruz as being somehow at odds with the "good nature of human life".
"You look at Trump supporters, and they're dehumanizing people. Donald Trump is doing it. They're dehumanizing anybody who stands against them." They're fat, they're pigs, they're losers, they're cry babies", whatever they are. And he talks about women, as you know, it's even worse. When you dehumanize people, you head for massive, massive trouble. Where is the press speaking out about the dehumanization of people by Donald Trump? All we heard, all we heard about the Tea Party is, how "this rhetoric is going to lead to violence". I'm telling you, when you dehumanize people, you are one step away from the jungle."-- Pundit Glenn Beck, January 29, 2016, referring to Republican presidential contender Donald Trump.
Comment: Beck is accusing Trump and his supporters of dehumanizing their opponents. He is also accusing some critics of the Tea Party movement for being hypocritical in suggesting that the rhetoric of the Tea Party was inciting violence (e.g., the shooting of Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ)), but not denouncing Trump's rhetoric on the same grounds. Is it true that dehumanizing rhetoric puts us "one step away from the jungle", or is that an exaggeration?
Washington Post depicts Ted Cruz’s children as monkeys. And won’t apologize for it.-- Pundit Moe Lane, December 23rd, 2015, referring to a Washington Post cartoon created by Ann Telnaes and published the previous day. The cartoon accused Republican presidential contender Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) of using his two daughters (aged 5 and 7) as "political props" by putting them in his campaign commercials. It did so with a drawing of Cruz as an organ grinder, and the children as monkeys held on leashes.
Comment: There are legitimate questions about whether children of politicians should be the target of political debate, or whether children should be involved in political campaigns; I leave those issues aside for now. Lane (and others, like Cruz himself) have accused Telnaes of denigrating Cruz's children, but I don't think that's correct. I think this is a case of mistaken "comparing" language. Telnaes wasn't saying that Cruz's children were literally monkeys – that would be a case of "subhuman" name-calling – rather, she said they were being used to garner attention for his political campaign, analogous (I imagine, "comically" exaggerated, as cartoonists' satire goes) to the way organ grinders would use monkeys to collect money.
Given Trump's knack for stealing the spotlight, it's easy to think he's alone in his Islamophobic views. That would be a mistake. The other GOP presidential hopefuls may not share Trump's penchant for rabble-rousing, but they're complicit in creating a deeply troubling atmosphere. And I'm not talking about the typical stand-on-the-sidelines sort of complicity. No, these Republican candidates are actively -- and dangerously -- bringing us back to scarier times with their fear-based proposals and angry rhetoric: … Ben Carson compared some Syrian refugees to dogs -- with "mad dogs" among them. Comparing people to animals is textbook propaganda, and it often leads to some pretty nasty places (think: "vermin," "blight," "eradicate"). Just imagine Carson's words blown up on a 20-foot poster. Marco Rubio equated Muslims to "Germans who may have been members of the Nazi party, but weren't violent themselves." Shameful. It was only last century that our elected leaders lumped Japanese Americans alongside our overseas enemies. The end result was internment camps, a concept that Trump refused to dismiss.-- Pundit Donna Brazile, December 9, 2015, referring to Republican presidential contender Donald Trump's proposal to temporarily halt Muslims from entering the U.S., as well as to remarks by Republican presidential contenders Ben Carson and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).
Comment: First, Brazile is accusing Trump of bigotry, and the Republican candidates more generally of fear-mongering. She also distorts what Carson and Rubio said: Carson did not "compare" Syrian refugees to dogs in the sense of dehumanizing them and saying they were no better than dogs. Rather, Carson said the fact that some terrorists might pose as refugees in order to enter and attack the U.S. shouldn't cause us to despise all refugees, in the same way that one dog with rabies shouldn't cause us to fear all dogs in general. More, Rubio did not "equate" Muslims with Nazis: rather, he said that there is a difference between violent and non-violent members of the Islamic faith, just as there is a difference between violent and non-violent members of any other religion or movement.
Has Donald Trump gone too far this time?-- Republican presidential contender Donald Trump, November 25, 2015, as related in a story by Ollie Gillman and Ashley Collman of the Daily Mail.
The Republican presidential hopeful is under fire for mocking a New York Times reporter with an 'outrageous' impression of the journalist's physical handicap during a campaign speech on Wednesday.
Not only has the New York Times come to the defense of their reporter, Serge Kovaleski, but the journalist's colleagues and the public at large have taken to social media to register their disgust with the brash candidate.
In a campaign stop in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Trump laid into the journalist, doing an impression that saw him flail his arms while putting on a strange voice.
Before the distasteful imitation, Trump said the story was 'written by a nice reporter'.
But he continued: 'Now the poor guy, you gotta see this guy: "Uh, I don’t know what I said. I don’t remember." He’s going, "I don’t remember. Maybe that’s what I said."'
Kovaleski, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, was born with arthrogryposis.
The condition can cause sufferers' joints to get stuck in one position and can also see people born with weaker or missing muscles.
Comment: Trump was clearly mocking Kovaleski for being disabled. It's not clear exactly what type of name-calling this would be – "stupid" or "subhuman"? Something else? – but it's certainly derisive and unacceptable. Trump's later claim that he was not mocking Kovaleski's disability is simply dishonest.
Marco Rubio wants no part of Donald Trump’s “freak show,” the Florida senator said in an NPR interview aired Monday.-- Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), September 28, 2015, as related in a Politico article by Nick Gass. Rubio was discussing Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
“I’m not interested in the back and forth — to be a member or a part of his freak show,” the Republican presidential candidate remarked. “I would just say this: He is a very sensitive person; he doesn’t like to be criticized. He responds to criticism very poorly.”
Comment: It's one thing to say he doesn't want to get into a visceral back-and-forth with Trump, but the term "freak show" is derisive name-calling (perhaps an instance of "disgusting" or "subhuman" rhetoric?). Also, it seems like the rhetoric is going to incite exactly what Rubio says he wants to avoid.
A few weeks ago, I predicted in a column that the Iran deal would become the foreign policy equivalent of Obamacare–Republicans would keep hammering it, even if they had no way to defeat it. This would be cynical and solipsistic; but I have absolutely no doubt that this is what the majority of Republicans will do. Next week, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and other Troglyditic all-stars will hold an anti-deal rally in Washington. Other circuses are sure to come. … Instead of standing with the demagogue Netanyahu–and the show-boating Republicans–AIPAC should consider standing with the Israeli intelligence and military establishment, some of whom favor the deal and some of whom don’t but all of whom agree that now that it’s a done deal, there is a need for coordinated strategy.-- Pundit Joe Klein, September 3, 2015. His remarks concerned the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and the Iranian nuclear deal.
Comment: There's all sorts of rhetoric going on here: "cynical"; "subhuman" (in the form of "Troglyditic"); and "demagogue".
"Pigs in a blanket, fry 'em like bacon!"-- A chant from Black Lives Matter protesters, August 30, 2015, near the fairgrounds in St. Paul, MN. "Pigs in a blanket" means police officers in body bags. On September 2, 2015, affiliated activist Trahern Crews explained that the chant was "playful" in character and intent.
Comment: This is violent (even dehumanizing) rhetoric, and it's difficult to see how it is meant "playfully".
WALLACE: You're getting blowback this weekend because you suggested that we should track foreigners who were in this country on visas and they overstay them the same way that FedEx tracks packages. And critics are saying, "People aren't packages".-- Republican presidential candidate Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), August 30, 2015, during an interview with Chris Wallace of Fox News.
CHRISTIE: They're not, but what my point was this is once again a situation where the private sector laps us in the government with the use of technology. Let's use the same type of technology to make sure that 40 percent of the 11 million people here illegally don't overstay their visas. If FedEx can do it, why can't we use the same technology to do it?
Comment: Wallace is pointing out that Christie is being accused of "comparing" human beings (i.e., immigrants) to packages. Christie is explaining that he only means that they can be treated alike in the sense that they can be tracked similarly upon entering the country. He is not dehumanizing them.
California Gov. Jerry Brown slammed global warming deniers in a keynote speech on Tuesday at a Vatican conference of environmentally friendly mayors. Politicians running for office who do not accept climate change as real are “troglodytes,” he said, according to The Associated Press.-- Gov. Jerry Brown (D-CA), July 21, 2015, from a story by Nick Gass of Politico.
Deniers of climate change are spending “billions on trying to keep from office people such as yourselves and elect troglodytes and other deniers of the obvious science,” the Democratic governor said, according to the AP.
It’s not the first time Brown has hurled the “troglodyte” insult at political opponents.
In March, for example, he ripped the positions of Republican governors and attorneys general challenging President Barack Obama’s immigration executive actions as “at best troglodyte, and at worst, un-Christian.”
Speaking at a climate change conference in Toronto earlier this month, Brown said that “[w]e have a lot of troglodytes south of the border.”
Comment: “Troglodytes” is name-calling, of perhaps the “evil” or “stupid” variety.
Addressing climate change, Brown said, requires reckoning with things that have made life comfortable for billions of people.-- Gov. Jerry Brown (D-CA), July 8, 2015, from a story by Chris Megerian of the LA Times. Brown spoke at a conference in Canada; “south of the border” thus refers to the United States.
“Oil, gas, coal has created the wealth we enjoy,” he said. “What was the source of our wealth now becomes the challenge of our future.”
He criticized politicians, particularly Republicans in Congress, who refuse to take action.
“We have a lot of troglodytes south of the border,” he said.
Comment: “Troglodytes” is name-calling, of perhaps the “evil” or “stupid” variety.
[Rep.] Alan Grayson [(D-FL)] is Elizabeth Warren without a filter — but he intends with her help to become Florida’s great Democratic hope. Since Grayson first burst onto the national media scene as a first-term congressman from Central Florida with a savage wit, he has generated near non-stop headlines and Internet hits, calling all manner of political opponents “whores,” “vampires” and “knuckle-dragging Neanderthals.” Even some Democrats who agree with almost all of his policy positions want to keep their distance. … After he shot into the national media arena in 2009, Grayson was unbowed, asking me, “Is it a necessary element of this job that I take shit from people? No one gets a free pass if they attack me. I don’t think it’s beneficial to turn the other cheek. There is no reason a Democrat has to be a weakling.” … His strident criticism of the financial system led to an early — and highly embarrassing — gaffe in February 2010, what soon would become just an indicator of what was to come. In a radio interview, Grayson attacked Linda Robertson, a senior adviser to Fed Chairman Paul Bernanke, calling her a “K street whore” and accusing her of “trying to teach me about economics.” He later apologized. Yet once catapulted into the national spotlight for his outrageousness, he never looked back. In fact, he doubled-down, comparing former Vice President Dick Cheney to a vampire bat (“I have trouble listening to what he says sometimes because of the blood that drips from his teeth while he’s talking”), calling the Republican Party a “lie factory” and dubbing Rush Limbaugh a “a has-been hypocrite loser” who was “more lucid when he was a drug addict.”-- From an article in Politico, May 20, 2015, by Mark I. Pinsky.
Comment: What Pinsky calls a "savage wit" and "gaffe" on the part of Grayson is better described as demonizing. "Whore" is name-calling of the "sexual deviancy" sort. Also, Grayson reportedly uses "get tough" rhetoric, according to Pinsky.
"One man, one vote. People are comin' in this country across the borders like rats and roaches in the wood pile. We've got a state like Minnesota that says it's not our business to check 'em out, we just register 'em. We've got to get control. That's what they need to know."-- The mother-in-law of Citizens United president David Bossie, May 9, 2015, during a focus group at the South Carolina Freedom Summit.
"I have obviously failed to galvanize and prod, if not shame enough Americans to be ever vigilant not to let a Chicago communist-raised, communist-educated, communist-nurtured subhuman mongrel like the ACORN community organizer gangster Barack Hussein Obama to weasel his way into the top office of authority in the United States of America."-- Singer Ted Nugent, January 2014.
Comment: This is name-calling, much of it demonizing.
(The list above is not intended to be a comprehensive record of all relevant examples.)