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Category: US Politics

White Supremacist Rhetoric and the Abortion Debate

White Supremacist Rhetoric and the Abortion Debate

Not shockingly, I’ve been thinking a lot about abortion laws and the Supreme Court this week, what with me writing this after a document was leaked suggesting strongly that the Supreme Court is on the edge of overturning Roe v. Wade. All week I’ve been both hearing and feeling deep concern about this, including concern from black women as those who demographically often suffer most from this if Roe v. Wade really gets overturned. In this blog post I plan…

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The Toxic Side of “All Lives Matter” Rhetoric

The Toxic Side of “All Lives Matter” Rhetoric

Okay, so we all KNOW a bunch of us get annoyed with the phrase “all lives matter”–for good reason– when it’s abused. A lot of us even know a lot of the reasons it bothers us. But com theory and related research can really help us see why it bothers us in a new light, and since that’s what I study and teach, I hope to explore what happens when seemingly good concepts like all lives matter “go bad,” and…

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Putin and the Culture Wars: An Analysis

Putin and the Culture Wars: An Analysis

Okay, so right now as I write this Russia, and specifically its leader Putin, are still invading the Ukraine, who is fighting back. As historian Heather Cox Richardson (along with others) have been pointing out, most American politicians, even those in the GOP, have been rolling back their support for Putin over the course of his invasion of Ukraine, but there are still some key politicians who are supporting Putin. As others have pointed out over at MSN.com, even the…

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The Toxic Side of “States’ Rights” & The Electoral College

The Toxic Side of “States’ Rights” & The Electoral College

Okay, so in the wake of the anniversary of 1/6, I find my mind increasingly drawn back to the disruption of the counting of electoral votes. Which makes me think about bullying regarding representation overall, including this conservative political rhetoric we’ve long had about STATES’ RIGHTS! As you’ll see, this often ties back to the Electoral College. In this blog piece I plan to unwrap this conservative rhetoric both from personal experience and my scholarly training to help us process…

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“Don’t Tread on Me!”: A History of Unhealthy Rhetoric

“Don’t Tread on Me!”: A History of Unhealthy Rhetoric

So if you google the history of the “Don’t Tread on Me” symbol and flag (often called the Gadsden flag), as I did last week, you’ll find a wide range of storytelling styles about it—most of which are either right-wing or very right-leaning “moderate” in nature. Today I’m going to unwrap some of these narratives from a rhetorical perspective, take issue with some of these interpretations, and discuss why this flag has been a strongly questionable symbol of militant masculinity…

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When Entitlement (Program)s Get Confused with “Pride”

When Entitlement (Program)s Get Confused with “Pride”

This week I saw an image from a dating profile whose owner identified as politically conservative as well as Christian. Here’s what it said: “…if you voted for Joe Biden do not hit me up..I don’t date liberals that feel they are entitled..I believe in hard work, self accountability, and God!!!!!” There’s a lot going on here, and there’s no way I will have time to unwrap all of it in this post, but I wanted to discuss how these…

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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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When K-12 Education Becomes a Battleground: An Analysis and Call to Action

When K-12 Education Becomes a Battleground: An Analysis and Call to Action

UPDATE 4/2/22: Hey, look! Schools are still a battleground–it’s just that masking is no longer what’s being fought over. All the history (including my now-embarrassing personal history as a one-time unintentional Christian nationalist) below is still relevant. (Sheesh it’s vulnerable to even admit that I organized a See You at the Pole rally at my Christian school. Soooo cringey now!) –DS Leiter As I’ve been thinking about it, it doesn’t surprise me that once again educational settings—and especially K-12 education…

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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

NOTE: This piece was originally published during the Summer 2021 Olympics, when Simone Biles withdrew after getting the “twisties.” Its principles continue to apply, but it might be helpful to look back at her statements then here. At the time, she received all sorts of abuse from the GOP, which, as noted below, were just starting the January 6 hearings. This past week Simone Biles withdrew from competition for the all-around gymnastics finals after faltering in the preliminary rounds of…

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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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When White Male Aggression Becomes a God Term

When White Male Aggression Becomes a God Term

I had already noted a few weeks back, in my analysis of the excellent and important book Jesus and John Wayne, that I wanted to write an entire piece on white Evangelical rhetoric around “God-given testosterone” causing aggression and domination as natural side effects of “men being men.”  Well, after this week’s violent set of shootings at massage parlors in Georgia by an ardent white male member of a Southern Baptist church, I thought it was time to look more…

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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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Grieving a Year of Pandemic Trauma and Golden Calves

Grieving a Year of Pandemic Trauma and Golden Calves

Y’all, two days from now it will have been a year since I first published my first blog post in this space about the rhetoric of coronavirus. And I HATE HATE HATE how right I was in that post. I hate how much literal damage and death and disability the rhetoric from the previous president and other leaders in his party filtering down into their followers has caused in the US in the past year. This week culminated the past…

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