Propagandists often demonize people they don't like, from Native Americans to Communists. At the same time, truly evil people are often portrayed as patriots, philanthropists or all around good guys.
Can anyone suggest a good antonym of demonize or demonization, other than deify? I'm not crazy about it, because it sounds a little overboard. I don't think many people are truly portrayed as God-like. I'm looking for a similar word that simply describes a bad person who's portrayed as a Good Samaritan.
Here's an example of how I want to use the word (if it exists):
The government demonized Native Americans for several decades.
The corporate media ______ George W. Bush and Bill Gates, portraying them as a patriot and a philanthropist, respectively.
Awesome discussion! Lionize and idolize are among my favorites, though glorify got the most votes by far.
In one of my comments, I mentioned whitewash, which is very clearly a political term (though not limited to politics exclusively). The problem is that whitewash has a connotation of repairing damage; when a person does something bad, we whitewash their record. Therefore, it was hard to imagine how propagandists could "whitewash" a person with a neutral record.
But I took another look at whitewash after AshleyZ suggested it as an answer. In fact, the first definition offered by Merriam-Webster is "to make (something) whiter by painting it with whitewash."
It's clearly referring to an object (not a person) that's being literally painted. The second definition suggests a coverup of a person. But if we extrapolate, I think we could argue that whitewashing can loosely cover the broad spectrum of propaganda designed to make people look good, which can be divided into three areas:
1) Traditional whitewashing, where one is praised as a "philanthropist" or a "patriot" AFTER one does something bad.
2) Pre-emptive whitewashing, where one is similarly praised even before doing anything bad (or before anyone learns that you've done something bad).
3) General whitewashing - where the goal is to simply make a person, organization or group look good. An example might be Christians who think they're "the chosen people."
Of course, this is all personal opinion. Strictly speaking, it would appear that only the first example above is definitively covered by the term whitewashing.