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Category: Political Rhetoric

Mask-wearing as “Liberal?”: Christian Nice and Partisan Divides over Public Health

Mask-wearing as “Liberal?”: Christian Nice and Partisan Divides over Public Health

I remember those wide-eyed days of Early Pandemic, when people were assuming that the reality of the virus would overcome partisan divides and bring us all together. Even then, while I hoped it would be the case, as a communication and rhetorical scholar focusing on stress, trauma, and conflict communication, my instincts and training both told me it would likely not. I blogged about my concerns about partisanship and anti-expertise rhetoric here, even in the earliest days of COVID-19. In…

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Loving Day, Christian Nice, and Political Disgusts Enabling Racism

Loving Day, Christian Nice, and Political Disgusts Enabling Racism

As I write this, yesterday (June 12) is Loving Day—the anniversary of when interracial marriage became legal in the whole US in 1967. Today I will talk about this anniversary from my standpoint as a (white) communication scholar, discussing what my personal reaction to the recency of anti-interracial marriage sentiment in the US tells us about the continuing problems of racism and white supremacy going forward among right-leaning moderate populations, as well as how we can stand up against them….

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Church Buildings as “Essential” and COVID-19: A Rhetorical Analysis

Church Buildings as “Essential” and COVID-19: A Rhetorical Analysis

Yesterday the current head of the executive branch of the US government made an announcement advocating for the immediate reopening of churches and other houses of worship as “essential” as quickly as this weekend. That announcement understandably set off a firestorm in the spiritually-focused groups I’m a part of. In this blog post, as a result, I will be looking at the concept of “houses of worship as essential” and the rhetoric around it. In doing so, I will also…

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Understanding the Rhetoric of COVID Conspiracy Theories—and How to Respond Healthily

Understanding the Rhetoric of COVID Conspiracy Theories—and How to Respond Healthily

I was going to write about something else this week. I had a great thing all cued up. But then my personal FB newsfeed blew up with my Facebook friends dealing with people, most of whom identify as some form of more conservative brand of Christian, hawking conspiracy theories. Most of the rhetoric surrounded this “Plandemic” video, which has since been removed from both YouTube and Facebook because of its misinformation. Once this gained critical mass, I know I needed…

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Striving for Healthy Dissent (in Today’s Progressive Politics)

Striving for Healthy Dissent (in Today’s Progressive Politics)

Hello friends! Lately I’ve been thinking about—and encountering—a lot of both healthy dissent and also the unhealthy varieties, especially when it comes to the 2020 election among my left-leaning and progressive friends. So today I want to unwrap some of those facets of the differences between healthy and unhealthy dissent, and encourage us all to diagnose the difference in ourselves and others so we can achieve our shared goals without too much unhealthy detraction. And let’s be honest: this is…

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The World’s Looking for a Stable Emergent Leader: No Pressure, Democrats! (A Rhetorical Analysis)

The World’s Looking for a Stable Emergent Leader: No Pressure, Democrats! (A Rhetorical Analysis)

A day or two ago, a sympathetic yet anxious friend from overseas asked me to explain the dynamics around why the fallout from Super Tuesday was coming down the way it was. Between that and others’ interpretations of the race and my own analysis, I’ve come up with a fairly unified theory, based in my study and teaching of stress, trauma, and conflict communication, as to what’s going on. This present blog post will unwrap a few of the dimensions…

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Responding Healthily to the Rhetoric of Denial and Fear: Coronavirus

Responding Healthily to the Rhetoric of Denial and Fear: Coronavirus

I’ve seen great pieces in recent days with titles like “you can’t gaslight a virus.” Sadly, you can muddy the rhetorical waters around it big time though–and that can enable its spread. And we’ve been seeing a lot of that from multiple sources, including the US government. A lot of times the rhetoric ends up ramping up the fear in response to the uncertainty of such an event. This blog post looks at the ways all of this happens and…

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When Demonization Is Elevated and a Woman Tears It Up: The Religio-Political Rhetoric of the SOTU

When Demonization Is Elevated and a Woman Tears It Up: The Religio-Political Rhetoric of the SOTU

It was hard to choose what to write about this week. Since this project focuses on the contexts around the religio-political landscape and I’ve been talking about god terms (things we see as “all good” and defend at all costs) and devil terms (things we see as “all bad” and fight at all costs, I ultimately zeroed in on two highly symbolic gestures at the State of the Union. That’s right, we’ll be talking about and contrasting Rush Limbaugh (whose…

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MLK, “Nice,” the 81%, and the Silencing of Voices for Justice

MLK, “Nice,” the 81%, and the Silencing of Voices for Justice

On this weekend when we are meant to celebrate the contributions of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., it is startlingly easy to domesticate him. To cover over the more radical points he made. In this article I will quote some excerpts from “Letter from Birmingham Jail” I’ve quoted before, but apply them a little differently. This time I will highlight how these words speak to the ways the rhetoric of the 81% of white Evangelicals that may or…

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How to Push Back Against Demonization and Warmongering

How to Push Back Against Demonization and Warmongering

As I pointed out last week, 2020’s been really religio-politically intense so far. What with war being threatened between the US and Iran and Australia burning, it feels like the world is bating its breath to see what’s going to happen. Meanwhile, rhetoric from the current US administration is turning real humans into seeming cartoons, continuing to demonize and dehumanize the Other—especially the progressive/liberal other and the Middle Eastern other (not to mention other brown-skinned immigrant others). It’s important to…

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Climate Change Rhetoric, Hope, and the “Brainwashing of Children”

Climate Change Rhetoric, Hope, and the “Brainwashing of Children”

So a few weeks ago, when I posted the article about Greta Thunberg and the complexities of (self-)censorship, we got a whole bunch of trolls popping in on that article when I advertised it on Facebook. The next week I published a response from an AS follower to some of those trolls’ views. This week I’m finally getting around to analyzing some of the troll rhetoric myself. In this blog post I’ll look at the ways in which the themes…

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Why None of Us Can Be “Perfectly Woke” or Safe

Why None of Us Can Be “Perfectly Woke” or Safe

Well, friends, we’re here. Friday was the 3rd anniversary of the 2016 election. And everywhere I look I see the signs that we’re all pretty tired. And as I said a couple of weeks ago, one of the phenomena that pops up when we’re all as exhausted as we are (for good reason) is the “eating one’s own” phenomenon, especially within what’s often referred to as “call out culture.” Often this phenomena comes out in expectations of perfection that each…

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Open Letter to Climate Change Naysayers at Assertive Spirituality

Open Letter to Climate Change Naysayers at Assertive Spirituality

Editor’s Note: This week’s blog post is a guest piece from someone who was following last week’s piece and had both experience and expertise in science and sustainable agriculture to respond to the climate change naysayers responding to the article, yet wished to remain anonymous. I offer it here in a very lightly edited version as an excellent example of #AssertiveSpirituality. Go team! May we all continue to do what we can where we are with what we’ve got to…

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Unwrapping a Healthy Spirituality of Competition; Or, Why I’m Not Working to Persuade Conservatives

Unwrapping a Healthy Spirituality of Competition; Or, Why I’m Not Working to Persuade Conservatives

I’ve been hearing it a lot lately, these cautions from the “reasonable people.” “Well, if you want the conservatives to actually hear you, you should tone down the language there.” “Well, that comparison doesn’t apply to ALL the conservatives. Shouldn’t you be more inclusive?” In this article, I plan to follow up on my previous article about “Jesus and the Limits of Listening” as well as other blog posts I’ll link throughout by discussing why I don’t think It’s always…

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Why “Christian Nice” Enables Covert Abuse and Authoritarian Politics

Why “Christian Nice” Enables Covert Abuse and Authoritarian Politics

So if you follow this space, you know that I grew up in a “moderate” religio-political space that followed the rules of “Christian Nice.” Under the surface, that often meant that the kind of “peace” that was spiritually elevated as a “god term”—that is, as I’ve said before, something to be defended at all costs, and, in this context, actually also seen as more godly—was too often associated with the suppression of confrontation. This meant “conflict” and “confrontation” were treated…

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