War is a struggle of power over communication. Despite our Constitutional rights to free speech, the massive media companies only cater to the voices with power. Those in power determine what words, values, and ideas are important, and what they mean. Those with power have control over what we see, and what is made invisible. Rhetoric is political, and an important tactic to retain power and control.
On Monday April 10th, Dr. Paul Achter from the University of Richmond gave his Key Note speech for JMU’s 39th Annual Communication Studies Conference (which takes place April 10th-12th)!
There are three topics I want to highlight from his presentation titled “Trump on Terror.”
1. Posturing as war
2. The always “almost over” war on terror
3. Trump is war
Image credit: Moyan Brenn on Flickr, CC
Posturing as war
At this point, I’m reading the word “war” as “wahhhrr,” like what’s up with that word.
Posturing is the act of strategically placing yourself into situations which make you appear threatening and powerful, in order to scare others into submission. This is a reason as to why the US has so many military bases all over the world. It’s also why there are drones and guns and massive vehicles. They are all meant to serve as means of intimidation. If other countries see that we speak loud and carry a big stick, they’re less likely to attack… Right?
In theory, it sounds great, but there are four responses to any situation: fight, flee, posture, or submit. America refuses to submit. America is always “almost over” wars, so we never “fight.” And Heaven Forbid, if America flees… we couldn’t survive that humiliation. So we posture, and intimidate other countries with our fancy weapons and strong soldier.
The always “almost over” war
If you look closely at the rhetoric of Bush and Obama, you will notice that when they refer to actual wars, they are “over,” while we have almost successfully “ended” the war on terror. It’s a turn of the phrase, saying the war is almost over, to inspire hope and support for our troops. But there will always be terrorists just as there will always be pacifists. (At least until the human race ceases to exist.)
So not matter what our leaders and politicians tell us, know that as long as there is “terror,” we will be “at war.” There is no end. Terrorists are faceless and nameless, keeping Americans in check. No ones going to counteract the government and the US military when possible terrorists lurk around every corner.
Trump is war
How silly, a person can’t be WAR… unless it’s one of the four horsemen… (THIS JUST IN: Trump could be one of the Horsemen ringing in the Apocalypse… Time to rewatch Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt to figure out how to survive in a bunker, and Doomsday Bunkers to figure out how to create a sustainable bunker in your own backyard!)
Anyway, Trump’s rhetoric as President is all about posturing: instilling fear into minorities (aka non-white,non-rich, non-cis, non-English, non-male). In order to keep the status quo, and keep white people in power, Trump appeals to their fear by tearing down minority identities. And unfortunately, it’s working. But it won’t work forever.
Don’t be fooled by his Twitter. His tantrums and inconsistencies are all for show, meant to captivate and control the news media coverage… we can’t get important news if everyone is focusing on Trump’s inaccuracies. Nothing makes a tastier story!
To wrap it all up: Trump is using posturing and the fear of losing white privilege to intimidate minorities and other countries into submission, but keeping the media in his pocket with all of his inconsistencies and slap-backs. Don’t fall into the trap! Stay informed, and be critical of all the news you hear and see.
Featured image credit: Trupinicomics on Flickr, CC