The Weapon No One Knew: Rhetoric
Updated: Feb 16, 2021
As the new year began, came new challenges that no American was ready to face. The fine line between freedom of speech and insurrection was revealed, and the President delivered the example. On January 6, 2021, the United States Capitol was invaded and violently attacked by a group of President Donald Trump supporters, in an attempt to carry out a coup.
The attack against the country has brought these two questions:
● What has led this group to commit such a defacing act?
● Why was the group not condemned by the President immediately?
In the recent social climate in America, the value of truth has been a topic of discussion. Quotes of “Fake News” and “Fraudulent Election Polls” have caused an extreme amount of mistrust toward the government and the delegation of the law. In the U.S., subjective truth from trusted leaders that lacks objective truth has invited discrimination, mistrust, and confusion.
In an article titled, “Donald Trump’s false comments connecting Mexican immigrants and crime” President Trump is quoted as saying, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” (Ye He Lee, 2015)
Condemnatory subjective quotes made by a President could make communities within the United States shift their belief about the targeted population and could increase the likelihood of hate crime.
Hate crimes have been increasing in the US almost every year since 2014. Campaign groups have warned this comes amid rising bigotry and racist rhetoric. (2020) Condemnatory subjective quotes are features of the danger of a single story.
Nigerian Author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie shares her analysis of a single story throughout the country, and most famously in a ted talk titled, “The danger of a single story.” A single story is a one sided summary perspective of a person, place or thing.
Single stories often create a complete image of a population from just one element of information. In the case of the President’s rhetoric, a number of communities have taken the fragment of information about the Mexico originated hispanic population and have assumed they are criminals.
It is not a fact that the majority of Mexican immigrants are criminals, but it is a subjective truth that has caused discrimination.
Since President-elect, Joseph Biden was declared as the projected winner of the election, President Donald Trump has made many claims of the election being stolen from him. With the use of speech and social media, Trump has caused an activation in his support groups where they have been protesting “Stop the Steal”.
This cause and effect, serve as a demonstration to how poor rhetoric is a dangerous weapon in America.
Throughout history, rhetoric has been used to change the environment of the country. President Herbert Hoover’s rhetoric of “prosperity around the corner” inspired the country and persuaded citizens to mindlessly invest in stock that would lead to the Great Depression. Martin Luther King’s rhetoric of equality and peace served the country a platform for civil rights and eventually brought racial equality. Whether intentional or not, President Donald Trump’s rhetoric has charged radical right groups to turn against the republic.
When the country realized the impact of Trump’s words, social media platforms like FaceBook, Instagram and Twitter temporarily froze Trump’s accounts to avoid further violent promotion. Many questioned if the social media platforms were depriving Trump of his right to freedom of speech, but to their case it was a protection against insurrection.
The day of the attacks, Trump responded to the rioters with a statement of, “we love you, and you are very special”, followed by further claims of the election being stolen. Despite delivering a condematory statement hours later, Trump’s initial statement appalled millions and caused his historical second impeachment.
It is to be assumed that Trump did not initially condemn his supporters because he was too fixated on being right. However, it can not be expressed enough that when someone takes office of an entire country, individual opinions of what’s right do not outweigh the common good of the nation.
It is our duty as citizens of America to be cognizant of our rhetoric and its impact, beca