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The Communication of Hate


Michael Waltman and John Haas

The book was awarded the 2011 NCA Franklyn S. Haiman Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Freedom of Expression.
This book sets out to explore how hate comes alive in language and actions by examining the nature and persuasive functions of hate in American society. Hate speech may be used for many purposes and have different intended consequences. It may be directed to intimidate an out-group, or to influence the behavior of in-group members. But how does this language function? What does it accomplish? The answers to these questions are addressed by an examination of the communicative messages produced by those with hateful minds. Beginning with an examination of the organized hate movement, the book provides a critique of racist discourse used to recruit and socialize new members, construct enemies, promote valued identities, and encourage ethnoviolence. The book also examines the strategic manipulation of hatred in our everyday lives by politicians, political operatives, and media personalities. Providing a comprehensive overview of hate speech, the book ends by describing the desirable features of an anti-hate discourse that promotes respect for social differences.


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Chapter 6: Nativism and the 2008 Presidential Election 109


Chapter 6 Nativism and the 2008 Presidential Election The 2008 Presidential Election has been referred to as “historic” so many times that the power of that term has been lost. The child of mixed parentage, raised by his white mother and grandmother, who self-identifies with the Af- rican American community, was elected the 44th President of the United States. Perhaps even more surprising is that someone with a Muslim father and named Barack Hussein Obama could be elected President of the United States only seven years after the al-Qaeda terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, and the subsequent hate crimes against people believed to be Arab. The end result of this election was a cause for celebration of the advances in tolerance made in this country. Unfortunately, this success came in spite of shameful attempts to defeat Obama by manipu- lating some Americans’ hatred and fear of African Americans. Recently, the President’s political opponents have attempted to defeat policy initiatives by relying on Nativist discourse to construct him as an un-American threat to the United States. In the last chapter, we illustrated how the hate stratagem operates through Nativist discourse through the media. We use the discourse in this election to illustrate another way that the hate stratagem operates in the mainstream of everyday American life. Unlike other analyses in this book, we do not identify specific texts (e.g., particular interviews, debates, or memos) as the focus of this analysis. Our task is not so...

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