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Category: Political Rhetoric

9/11, Conspiracy Rhetoric, WECs, and the “New World Order”: An Analysis

9/11, Conspiracy Rhetoric, WECs, and the “New World Order”: An Analysis

As I write this it’s the 20th anniversary of 9/11, a major trauma to the United States (my country). It’s also an event that’s caused a lot of negative events out of unhealthy trauma responses. As historian Kristin Kobes Du Mez points out in Jesus and John Wayne, this includes a turn in the white Evangelical religio-political community toward increasingly militant masculinity that became increasingly focused on fighting “culture wars” against other citizens of the United States. In today’s article,…

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Simone Biles: Speaking Truth to the GOP’s Unhealthy Positive Projections

Simone Biles: Speaking Truth to the GOP’s Unhealthy Positive Projections

This past week Simone Biles withdrew from competition for the all-around gymnastics finals after faltering in the preliminary rounds of the Olympics, citing an enormous amount of pressure on her as the prominent champion. Right-wing pundits, likely looking for a diversion from the unflattering-to-their-“side” January 6 hearings, have been hammering on her this week for her decision to pull back. In this piece, I will be talking about what these moves show us about unhealthy positive projection when it comes…

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The Problem with the GOP’s “Viewpoint Neutrality” Doctrine in K-12

The Problem with the GOP’s “Viewpoint Neutrality” Doctrine in K-12

The GOP’s been pushing “viewpoint neutrality” A LOT lately in education, including both K-12 education and higher ed, if you hadn’t noticed. This is the language that shows up in a lot of the bills that are demonizing the place of “critical race theory” in classrooms, often where it’s not being taught in the first place. These bills often are requiring “equal time” to all viewpoints on history, especially racial history, even if some are false and downright damaging. Not…

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When the GOP Tries to Legislate Racial Cordial Hypocrisy

When the GOP Tries to Legislate Racial Cordial Hypocrisy

As I write this, it’s the first Juneteenth that’s a national holiday. It literally became one two days ago. This declaration has been met with unease by many Black voices I’ve been hearing. In this article I plan to unwrap why this is by bringing my usual communication studies lens to the subject, with a dash of Jesus thrown in. In short, declaring Juneteenth a federal holiday is a good step forward in a lot of ways. But especially the…

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When the “Good Guy with a Gun” Myth Becomes a God Term

When the “Good Guy with a Gun” Myth Becomes a God Term

Okay, so this week I had an opportunity to have a variety of—ahem—new visitors to the Assertive Spirituality Facebook page to comment on a particular meme in which a person expressed concerns about a random person open-carrying a gun in a restaurant. What was really striking to me is that almost all of these dissenting visitors to that particular meme on the AS FB page, most of whom seemed to identify with NRA types of rhetoric, seemed so attached to…

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Working Together Toward COVID-19 Vaccination Goals

Working Together Toward COVID-19 Vaccination Goals

I know we’ve been saying this for quite some time now, but this past week’s been quite the week. Thursday March 11 was the anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic, and a year later we’re in the throes of the both frustrating and optimistic process of COVID-19 vaccination. Others have written helpfully on many aspects of this situation; in this piece I hope to talk about how all the competing types of rhetoric at play, especially scarcity rhetoric, affects the human…

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What’s in a #BernieMeme? (And What Is Not)

What’s in a #BernieMeme? (And What Is Not)

This, the 51st month of 2016, as one meme puts it, has been full of ALL THE FEELS for me and so many others in the US and around the world. I mean, let’s be clear: in the course of two weeks we progressed from armed insurrectionists white supremacists praying in the Capitol while causing violence and trauma to the blessedly peaceful inauguration day. It’s been A LOT to process. So it’s excellent that we’ve had memes of Bernie Sanders…

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“Not My Christianity”?: Moving Toward Healthier Responses to the Attempted Coup

“Not My Christianity”?: Moving Toward Healthier Responses to the Attempted Coup

This week has felt like quite the, well, year in the US, hasn’t it? Specifically, the last few days. In this blog post, I plan to respond to one strain of responses to the seditious coup attempt that led to the first breaching of the US Capitol building on Wednesday, January 6, 2021 since 1812: the “Not MY Christianity” rhetoric. See, I totally understand the impulse to fully disclaim the twisted toxic kind of spirituality on display during this insurrection….

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Persisting Against Disinformation in the Post-Election Era

Persisting Against Disinformation in the Post-Election Era

EDITOR’S NOTE: I am thankful to have met this week’s guest blogger, Lee McIntyre, at a conference a few years back. Considering he’s way too modest in his author’s bio at the end of this guest post—he’s literally written the book on Post-Truth, and has spoken to the United Nations on the subject—I was thrilled that he agreed to offer us some post-election advice on how and why it’s important to keep speaking up against disinformation, and how to distinguish…

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Thou Shalt Not Steal and the Rhetoric of Vote-Counting: An Open Letter

Thou Shalt Not Steal and the Rhetoric of Vote-Counting: An Open Letter

I grew up in a church where most Sundays they read the Ten Commandments and such. I knew them, and still know them, incredibly well. And my family’s been in this country, at least in one branch of the family tree, long enough for me to have relatives that went to war to fight for their rights regarding this no taxation without representation business–in other words, the right to have one’s vote count. The question of vote-counting has mattered since…

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Standing Firm in an Era of Public Gaslighting

Standing Firm in an Era of Public Gaslighting

The further things move along, the more intense they get out there. The religio-political gaslighting from the right wing is particularly intense right now, so I wanted to offer a quick post talking about what that looks like and offering some techniques for reasonable folks to stand firm in these challenging times. About Me As a reminder, I’m approaching this topic as a communication scholar who teaches interpersonal communication and has emphases in rhetoric and mediated communication. My research focus…

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A Case for Christian Resistance: A Response to Law and Order Theology

A Case for Christian Resistance: A Response to Law and Order Theology

Editor’s Note: A few weeks ago we had a guest post by Rachel Contos unpacking healthy and unhealthy theologies around “God’s will” and mask-wearing from an Orthodox Christian perspective. This week’s blog post continues a similar theme in a different direction when Rhonda Miska, a Catholic lay preacher, unpacks healthy and unhealthy theologies around law and order and resistance. I really enjoyed both of these pieces and hope you do too. Enjoy the read! Cheers, DS Leiter, Founder, Assertive Spirituality…

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An Open Letter Re: White Evangelicals and Moral Disgust of RBG

An Open Letter Re: White Evangelicals and Moral Disgust of RBG

NOTE: I wrote the following to process my own grief about the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg while also helping anyone else who might need to understand the dynamics of how right-leaning white Evangelicals feel about RBG from the perspective of a communication scholar who grew up that way. May RBG’s memory be a blessing, and may all of us be part of that blessing to the world. May we all fight for genuine truth and justice and the equitable…

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The “Holy War of Ideas” and the Demonization of Critical Race Theory: An Analysis

The “Holy War of Ideas” and the Demonization of Critical Race Theory: An Analysis

I’ve been seeing and hearing about it a lot lately from those on the right, and reports from those I know who are also being assertive with unhealthy rhetoric from the right. “Beware of critical race theory,” those on the right are saying. “Don’t trust BLM—they’re Marxist.” And when conservative Christians (mostly white Evangelicals) share this stuff and try to say Christianity is deeply opposed to critical race theory as an ideology, it all takes on a “holy war of…

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What’s in a Hashtag? #DefundThePolice and the Politics of Interpretation

What’s in a Hashtag? #DefundThePolice and the Politics of Interpretation

It’s been coming up a lot lately. People will ask me, as someone who specializes in communication studies, what I think about the #DefundthePolice hashtag. The implication is always that if the movement just marketed itself better people would be on board. OR people will show willful misunderstanding of the movement in their response to similar matters, as a troll on the AS FB page did earlier this week. The present article will unwrap the communication dynamics behind these kind…

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