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Category: US Politics

“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

As I’ve been thinking about it, it doesn’t surprise me that once again educational settings—and especially K-12 education settings—are the (literally violent) battleground over which right-wing policy is hovering. This time it’s the COVID-19 pandemic, as Republican governors in several states have outright banned mask mandates and are sticking to their guns even as the delta variant threatens to ravage the populations of unvaccinated school age children. But it’s happened before. In this article I plan to unwrap the rhetoric…

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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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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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Ashes to Ashes and Rush to Dust?

Ashes to Ashes and Rush to Dust?

As those of you who’ve been following this space for awhile may remember, I first wrote extensively about my experience with Rush Limbaugh here when he was disturbingly given the Medal of Honor at last year’s State of the Union. Ever since the death of this poisonous man on this past Wednesday—Ash Wednesday—I’ve been trying to figure out how to extend that discussion here. In this article, I plan to talk about some of the ways I’m mourning the continuing…

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Evangelicalism, Militant (White) Masculinity, and the “Threat” of Assertive Spirituality

Evangelicalism, Militant (White) Masculinity, and the “Threat” of Assertive Spirituality

I just finished reading the book Jesus and John Wayne by Kristin Kobes Du Mez a couple of days ago, and I’ll be honest, it’s so impactful I’m going to be processing it for quite some time. In this article, I’ll talk about how this general audience history book makes the strongest case I’ve seen yet for the need for many people to embody the ideas behind this Assertive Spirituality project, in discussing the disturbing long-term impact of the ideas…

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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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Reaching Toward Pandemically Precautious Healthy Holidays

Reaching Toward Pandemically Precautious Healthy Holidays

Okay, so as I described in this space back in the era I now call Early Pandemic, all of us who are seeking to be as pandemically responsible as possible are back to high alert (some of us never really came back down from it), trying to keep ourselves and others alive and reach toward healthy holidays in these challenging times. Despite the best efforts of those of us who continue to be as pandemically precautious as possible in the…

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