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Category: Political Rhetoric

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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QAnon Conspiracy Rhetoric, Hypervigilance, and Questions of Trust

QAnon Conspiracy Rhetoric, Hypervigilance, and Questions of Trust

If you’ve been following along here, you should know that I’ve already been doing a series on the rhetoric of conspiracy for the last few weeks. I previously talked about conspiracy theories here, here and here. This week I’ve seen sex trafficking experts having to work extra hard to refute unhealthy conspiracy rhetoric around that subject (check out, for example, this post I shared recently on the Assertive Spirituality FB page). This piece is a response to that while continuing…

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“Biden Is Against God”? The Patriot Movement as Religio-Political Audience

“Biden Is Against God”? The Patriot Movement as Religio-Political Audience

Two days ago it spread quickly across my timeline, much like an oil spill: the current head of the US administration had made more strange comments about religion. In this article I plan to rhetorically analyze those illuminating comments about Biden being “against God” and “against the Bible,” putting them in context of what I’ve been discussing in this space about god terms, devil terms and conspiracy rhetoric. In the process, I hope you’ll start to understand why the conspiracy…

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Who’s a “Sheeple,” Really? COVID-19, Conspiracy Rhetoric and Fear of Groupthink

Who’s a “Sheeple,” Really? COVID-19, Conspiracy Rhetoric and Fear of Groupthink

Last week a friend said on their FB wall that they were tired of being called a “sheep” for thinking it was important to wear masks. I instantly knew I needed to look into where it came from, especially in its longer form of “sheeple.” Today you get the beginnings of a series on the highlights of my dive down the deep, dark rabbit hole where the word “sheeple” comes from, and especially how it came to be popularized and…

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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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