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“The Powell Memo” as the Blueprint for Conservative Doublespeak by Donald Lazere and Anne-Marie Womack

This is a section from the forthcoming, revised edition of Reading and Writing for Civic Literacy: The Critical Citizen’s Guide to Argumentative Rhetoric (Routledge, 2019), by Donald Lazere and Anne-Marie Womack). It is a historical-rhetorical summary and analysis of key sections of “the Powell memo.”  The complete text is too long and filled with dated details to reproduce whole, Read more

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“Globalist” vs. “Globalization” by Don Lazere

President Trump and his followers have put on the public rhetorical agenda a supposed opposition between “globalist” and “nationalist” in which the first term connotes the long history of right-wing  xenophobic delusions about “the international *** conspiracy,” at various times “Communist,” “banking,”  “Jewish,” “world order,” etc.  Trump has added the twist of other countries ganging up economically against the US, … Read more

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Rhetoric of Identification and Young Men of the Alt-Right

Last Friday, members of the alt-right group the Proud Boys violently attacked a number of innocent people in New York City. This group is one of a number of groups that are united by some combination of white nationalism, misogyny, and other prejudicial ideologies—with some prejudices outranking others for some young men. Young men are drawn to … Read more

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Kavanaugh’s Rant and the Old Republican “Tu Solus” Trick — by Don Lazere

BY DON LAZERE

In his rant that was the defining moment of his confirmation hearings, Brett Kavanaugh charged that he was the victim of a political “hit” orchestrated not only by vengeful Clinton Democrats but by millions in “dark money” spent by “outside special interests.” (He didn’t speak the name George Soros, but the multitudes of right wing conspiracy theorists … Read more

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Appeals to Nuance and Platforming The Accused of Sexual Assault

One of the attractions of demagoguery—the political appeals to popular prejudices—is that it offers simple explanations to complex issues. Nuance can be lost in dangerous ways when demagoguery reigns supreme. It is often a pride of intellectuals to be champions of nuance in the fight against demagoguery. However, sometimes nuance can be a rhetorical tactic. This is apparent in the … Read more

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What We Are Doing

Kenneth Burke called humans “symbol-using animals”—we make, use, and misuse symbols constantly in our heads, in conversations with others, on paper, on our laptops, on our phones, in or on as many situations and objects as we possibly can. We send these symbols out into the world at a rapid rate, and we reciprocally absorb them from other places and … Read more