Watch the video for Digby's thoughts on the process of right wingers dehumanizing Occupy Wall Street with an eye towards rationalizing the crushing of dissent with violence. I want to agree with what she says here and add another thought: dehumanizing the protesters is part of a larger process of dehumanizing all the victims of the economic recession. Since that figure includes, to one extent or another, most of us, that means the best bet for the right now is encourage a culture of complete alienation, where we not only can't feel empathy for people down the economic ladder from us, but also a culture where our attitude towards people like us is indifference and towards people up the ladder is uncritical and worshipful. Where Americans don't see each other as human beings at all, but where all relationships are about competition and dominance at all times. That includes and may even be especially true regarding romantic and familial relationships, which is why there's so much emphasis on the right on "traditional", i.e. male-dominated marriage and protecting "parental rights" to control your children with violence. It also explains the escalating hostility to even the most basic forms of sexual expression, unless they're tightly controlled and have all the eroticism squeezed out of them. Sex is a subversive force, after all, that encourages intimacy and affection and distracts you from constantly establishing dominance and submission in every encounter you have. (Ironically, this is true even in BDSM, where it's the dominance/submission aspects that are met with controls and limits, but value is put on self-expression and a sort of anarchy of spirit. Well, at least in the best examples of it.)
This is why the pepper-spraying incident at Wal-Mart bothers me so much. I all too easily can see how someone can convince herself that it's nothing more than weeding a garden. It stems from the same place as Republican voters cheering the idea of allowing people to die of preventable causes or a foreclosure firm thought it was a great idea to mock the people they foreclose upon for Halloween. We're being encouraged to stop seeing each other as people, and more as obstacles or annoyances. We're encouraged to look at another's suffering and think not of ways to relieve it, but simply, "Better you than me." It's the Ayn Rand-ization of America, in other words, and I'm not sure what it's going to take to turn the ship around.