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In a civilization, some people are born with the innate ability to do magic (say like Harry Potter universe). All the people, magical and non-magical, have personalities like those in today's world; magic users aren't inherently evil, but some are...there are also those who are extremely good. No physical trait or characteristic distinguishes a magician from a normal human.

Why would those without magical abilities fear/avoid, hate/shun, hunt down, or discriminate magic users? Would it have to be a massive almost world taking over event (like the Holocaust)?

Semi-related question but on racism

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    $\begingroup$ This question is way too broad and opinion-based. Without knowing anything about the mechanics and common applications of your magic we can only speculate why magicians are hated. Without knowing the political and technological details of your society we also can only speculate about the possible development of the events. $\endgroup$ – Olga Nov 7 '17 at 4:24
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    $\begingroup$ I'm rather inclined to argue that the question isn't primarily opinion-based. (Not only because I have an answer to it.) This seems to me to be perfectly answerable, where answers can draw from e.g. psychology. The simple fact that all seven answers that were posted before this was put on hold all say much the same thing is in itself a sign that an objective answer is possible; if it was truly opinion-based, then different people would likely propose very different answers. I'm not reopening this unilaterally, but it's definitely a question where I'd have cast one normal reopen vote. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Nov 7 '17 at 13:29
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    $\begingroup$ @MichaelKjörling Agreed. Why a person would hate is opinion-based, but why a people would hate is primarily driven by the fear of the Other, which is a perfectly fine topic for the site. (Unless I miss my mark.) $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Nov 7 '17 at 15:34
  • $\begingroup$ @Frostfyre I'd say why a person would hate is more prone to being off topic as about a specific character (and thus not about worldbuilding), than it is likely to be off topic as primarily opinion-based. Given enough information about the character, answers could certainly be judged on how well they answer the question of why a person with those traits would hate some specific thing; however, like pretty much any other question that is specifically about some particular character, it would likely be utterly useless to anyone else. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Nov 7 '17 at 16:06
  • $\begingroup$ Don't normal people already hate magicians? See: Chris Angel. $\endgroup$ – Pink Sweetener Aug 19 '18 at 14:17
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I almost hate to say it, but: it's magic.

Generally speaking, people fear what they do not understand. Hatred, discrimination and many other such things not uncommonly stem from a lack of understanding. Note: I am not saying this is the only chain of causation that leads to your desired goal, but that it is one possible chain of causation.

If people don't understand how the magic works, or who has the ability to use magic and who doesn't, or why, or the limits of it, that can easily translate into fear. It's perfectly natural to shun what one fears. Consequently, a large fraction of people in general are likely to shun people who have magical abilities, even if those magical abilities are reasonably common.

It is perhaps somewhat of a stretch to call all of them scientists by the standards applied to that term today, but look at how people at the forefront of exploring how the world worked were treated by their peers or simply ordinary people around, say, the year 1600. Consider Galileo Galilei, or Isaac Newton, or somewhat earlier Leonardo da Vinci. Heck, look at Charles Darwin, fully two centuries later. Now scale this up appropriately because your magic-capable people aren't merely exploring how the world around them works (which, honestly, everyone can see, if perhaps not grasp the mechanics of), but because they actually have an ability to control it that others lack.

It wouldn't necessarily have to lead to anything similar to the European holocaust of the 1930s and 1940s, but it could simply be not wanting to have anything to do with the people who do have magic abilities. Depending on how developed your society is, this could mean everything from being shunned by the tribe and being forced to live without the support of a community, to being the weird person everybody in town knows about but nobody wants to talk to, to being locked up in a mental institution, to being just an eccentric individual.

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  • $\begingroup$ Almost exactly what I would have said. In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is hated. $\endgroup$ – ShadoCat Nov 7 '17 at 1:25
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TL;DR -- Consistency

Let's say you are John Q. Peasant.

With magic in the world, you can't rely on anything. You want the sun to rise in the East and set in the West. You want the rains to come in autumn. You want the Great River to, well, exist every morning. You want a decided lack of portals to Hell in your neighborhood. You want the world to be predictable.

Magic ruins this. With all-powerful mages tampering with the seasons, the stars, and the seas, you can't count on anything.

You can't be sure that the girl you fell in love with didn't dose you with a love charm. You can't be sure that the people you meet aren't magicians in disguise. You can't be sure that you're not being charmed into bad deals or bad decisions. Everything is up in the air. Nothing is ... real, anymore.

Then factor in how magicians act ...

IS IT ANY WONDER WE HATE THOSE MAGICAL MISCREANTS WITH THE HEAT OF TEN THOUSAND SUNS?

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Fear is a powerful motivator.

Magic is a powerful tool, for good, for evil, or for neutral effect.

Grant someone, anyone, the ability to do massive harm to people or property, with little or no promise of protection against that action, and you breed fear.

That's the entire concept behind the Cold War's Mutually Assured Destruction. The idea that someone can rain down fire on your head is something not to be taken lightly.

Or, to take it down a few scale factors... Have you ever seen guards in a public setting holding rifles? Here in the US, that's not a frequent occurrence. But I have seen it. The first time I took a commercial flight after 9/11, National Guard soldiers patrolled the airports with rifles. It was unsettling to see, even though they were the good guys at the airport. I've been in foreign countries where police did the same. It was, again, unsettling.

Now take those rifles and make them invisible. So anyone, anywhere, at any time, could be packing lethal firepower.

That is more than enough to instill fear in people.

Quite honestly, if you don't have magic powers of your own, fear is the only sane way to view powerful magic.

Of course, as Yoda teaches us, "Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering." That cycle plays into it as well. We hate the things we fear. And we do what we can to make those we hate/fear suffer.

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Make it about the magic. Magic is evil.

Have the use of magic entail something which is hateful and horrible. For example, using magic drains soul power from humans. Bad magicians will drain soul power indiscriminately, either kidnapping people and using their soul power up or draining it from crowds or unsuspecting persons. Magic is intrinsically a hateful thing.

Good magicians need soul power too: magic requires it. But they are careful. Maybe they take some from volunteers (e.g. the parents of a sick kid, who then gets magic healing) or even from themselves in small amounts. These good magicians are using a fundamentally evil force to accomplish good - tricky but possible (and full of narrative potential!).

Getting your soul sucked out feels bad and it makes people hate magic generally and also hate the people who can do it. They make special exceptions for the good mages who might heal the kids although such would still probably be required to live on the edge of town.

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    $\begingroup$ ...also, it becomes exceedingly easy to blame "magic drain" for almost everything, from chronical fatigue upwards, leading to pogroms. That goes double if magic also influences e.g. chance: all magicians would be then surrounded by a halo of bad luck for everyone else. $\endgroup$ – LSerni Nov 7 '17 at 7:38
  • $\begingroup$ It doesn't even have to be exactly true. Perhaps magic use just draws a little heat and moisture from the air, making people near by feel a bit chilled and lethargic, but then that rumour started to spread. Now, who are you going to believe--your feelings, or those creepy soul-sucking mages? $\endgroup$ – Graham Kemp Nov 27 '17 at 11:04
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Hatred, in this sort of context, can also stem from envy or jealousy; consider that a common reason for persecuting Jews was because they were easily able to make money by loaning money at interest - something forbidden to the wider Christian society during some periods. Also, the Jewish cultural emphasis on education meant that it was that much more likely for them to be over-represented in positions - including in noble courts - where being learned was important. Again, the emphasis on education was less common in the wider society they were found in.

In the case of magic as you've outlined above, you additionally have the problem that the difference is inherent, not merely cultural, and a non-mage can't decide "I'm going to break my cultural strictures and learn what he [the mage] knows." That gives the mage an unanswerable advantage, socially, and the resulting envy/jealousy can easily morph into hatred and violence.

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Learning magic is dangerous. More so to people without magic.

"Congratulations! Your fireball worked! You see why we worked on shields all last week? Next week we'll work on aim. Now let's teleport home before anyone starts looking for who started the fire."

Witch Hunt

Bad things happen and we look for someone to blame. The default choice is someone who really could have done it.

It doesn't matter if there is a logical explanation even. If I know where people who can create tornadoes live I'll consider gathering a mob if a tornado crushes my house. And if it happens more than a few times I might go out of my way to chase them out before they get a chance to smash my house again.

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Mages can do things that normal people can't manipulate matter, create things as they wish and worst of all use magic can know people's inner most thoughts.

Magicians can use illusions to trick normal people into doing things that they would not otherwise do. They may also be able to control your mind Lose your inhibitions at the Christmas party, say something to your boss you regret ...a Mage made me do it.

Fall ill to a cancer, or suffer any misfortune was it just bad luck or did a magician some how curse you, or create the conditions that caused your problems.

All this and there is no way of knowing who is making your life hell, sure there are mages who,claim to be good, but who knows what they are up to when no one can see them.

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Why would they fear wizards because they have power, power that easily abused. Power that us mundanes don't have any defense against. How can you fight back against some one who can turn you into a bug. It is like there caring guns all the time. Even if they don't use the powers to hurt people they still no changing the fact that they could at any time. Worse yet it not all of them can control there power, what if one day they get dumped by there girl friend and accidentally murder there hole class.

People already fear people who care guns and try to pass laws to make it illegal for people to own them. A wizard in who can bend the reality to their will, that's far more dangerous then any hand gun. So it's likely that it that they will be afraid of magic users.

I have no idea if it lead to another Holocaust it real depends on a lot of factors.

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