Politically though, Tannehill noted the U.S. trend towards divisive rhetoric and policies under President Donald Trump, who has been repeatedly accused of various forms of racism and has pursued a nativist agenda.

“The politicians enacting it are populists who benefit from stirring Us vs. Them narratives, placing blame for the woes of the nation on others who are somehow less worthy,” she wrote. “They yearn for a mythological past [without] these people. It’s a highly viable tactic for shoring up support.”

The undesirables are smeared in a variety of ways, whether labeled criminals, sex offenders, threats to women and children or “generally unworthy of empathy,” Tannehill continued. Anyone who defends such groups is then demonized.

Propaganda further vilifies a target group, dehumanizing them and enabling “public safety measures” such as removing them from government jobs and revoking security clearances, Tannehill said.