A Rhetoric of Demonization and Exclusion

In this very polarized political environment, it is perhaps not surprising that much of the political rhetoric has crossed the line that distinguishes partisanship and prejudice, discourse and dogma, persuasive argument and demagoguery.

It is also not all that surprising that much of the most superheated rhetoric is coming from the Far Right. Politics and governance have moved so consistently to the Center-Right that the main talking points of the Left now reflect mainstream opinions among the general population, if not always the positions of a majority (or super-majority) of the politicians who represent us: reasonable measures to insure that all Americans have access to good public education, reasonable measures to insure that all workers are paid and treated fairly by their employers, reasonable measures to insure that all Americans have some access to health care, reasonable measures to insure that Social Security and Medicare are preserved for retirees, reasonable measures to curb pollution and climate change, and reasonable measures to curb gun violence.

These things clearly move in cycles. In the 1970s and 1980s, the Right focused on extreme rhetoric from some on the Left and turned “Liberal” into a term of disdain—as the Cold War ended, a substitute for the previous era’s terms of disdain such as “Commie,” “Pinko,” and “Fellow Traveler.” How telling but predictable, then, that “Socialist” has now become the term of disdain for everything that the Right believes that President Obama represents.

But for the moment, the Far Right has, to use a cliché, politically and rhetorically painted itself into a corner. How else to explain the lunatic-fringe figures who are not just prominently associated with the most extreme Right-ideology but are representing the GOP as candidates for political office and, in some cases, actual office holders?

The following piece appeared in Right-Wing Watch. But it does not, I think, represent “Liberal bias.” If the remarks of E. W. Jackson have somehow been taken out of context, then he has been extraordinarily careless in producing so much rhetoric with that potential.

And although I would be hard-pressed to come up with a scenario in which I would introduce this material into one of my classes, if such a scenario presented itself, I do not think that it would amount to “Left-wing indoctrination” to point out to my students that these positions illustrate the rhetoric of prejudice, dogma, and demagoguery. Such a conclusion would rest on only a very basic sensitivity to language, an acknowledgement of the very basic parameters of reasonable argument, and an simple awareness that those indulging in the rhetoric of demonization are exposing, more than anything else, their own personal demons.




VA GOP Lt. Governor Nominee E.W. Jackson: Homosexuality Is ‘Poison,’ Democrats Are Slave Masters, and Obama Is a Secret Muslim

Submitted by Brian Tashman

With the ultraconservative Ken Cuccinelli as their candidate for governor, it only makes sense that Virginia Republican delegates picked far-right pastor and failed U.S. Senate candidate E. W. Jackson as their nominee for Lt. Governor.

Jackson is running on a “message to inspire and unite Virginia,” which apparently includes uniting Virginians around bigotry towards gays and lesbians, comparing Democrats to slave masters and the Antichrist and warning that President Obama is a secret Muslim.

Jackson on Gays and Lesbians:

Referred to gays and lesbians as “perverted,” “degenerate,” “spiritually darkened” and “frankly very sick people psychologically, mentally and emotionally.”

Said regarding homosexuality: “it poisons culture, it destroys families, it destroys societies; it brings the judgment of God unlike very few things that we can think of.”

Argued that gays seek to “sexualize [children] at the earliest possible age” and use “totalitarian” tactics.

Claimed gays are hurting black women: “I’ve heard a lot of young black ladies say that a lot of young black men seem to be gay. I’ve heard them complain about it, they say ‘so many of these guys are homosexuals’ and they are frankly frustrated by it.”

Demanded the reinstitution of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell : “The military has been decimated by this lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender policy that has now been implemented. It’s an abomination and it’s only going to weaken us militarily and they need to undo it,” warning that the policy’s repeal is a “disaster of historic proportions.”

Contended that homosexuality is “killing black men by the thousands” and said of gay rights advocates: “what they’re promoting is killing people.”

Called GLSEN founder and anti-bullying activist Kevin Jennings a “radical homosexual activist” who should have been “imprisoned” in a letter demanding he resign as head of the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools.

Said there is a “direct connection” between gays and pedophilia.

Jackson on Obama and Democrats:

Wondered how the Democratic Party “managed to hold on to Black Christians in spite of an agenda worthy of the Antichrist.”

Proclaimed that “the Democrat Party has shown itself to be anti-Christian, anti-Bible, anti-family, anti-life and anti-God . . . We’re calling people to come out of the Democrat Party and not support candidates who represent its values and the rebellion that it represents against God. That certainly would include President Barack Obama.”

Claimed that Democratic Party supporters are “insulting their faith and blaspheming their God” by supporting a “coalition of the godless.”

Warned that ministers who support Obama “are going to have to answer to God” if they encourage “their congregations to support this abomination.”

Said Democrats believe “that the Bible is a lie and indeed they are saying that God is a liar.”

Argued that “liberalism and their ideas have done more to kill black folks whom they claim so much to love than the Ku Klux Klan, lynching and slavery and Jim Crow ever did, now that’s a fact.”

Maintained that Obama “seems to have a lot of sympathy for even radical Islam” and argued that Obama “certainly does have a lot of affection and favor for Islam, that seems to be his priority . . . Christianity, I don’t really think about that with him, I really don’t, that’s a joke.”

Compared Democratic leaders to “slave masters” who make sure that black people who disagree with them are “punished.”

Insisted that Planned Parenthood “has been far more lethal to Black lives than the KKK ever was.”

Predicted that African Americans would “overwhelmingly” vote against Obama as a result of his endorsement of marriage equality and that God would “stir the hearts of His people” and push them against the Democrats.


Right-Wing Watch is online at http://www.rightwingwatch.org

4 thoughts on “A Rhetoric of Demonization and Exclusion

  1. Pingback: A Rhetoric of Demonization and Exclusion, Addendum | Academe Blog

  2. Pingback: So the Haters Are Now Worried about Hate Speech | Academe Blog

  3. Pingback: So the Haters Are Now Worried about Hate Speech | Talking Union

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