Infecting the body politic? Modern and post-modern (ab)use of Immigrants Are Invading Pathogens metaphor in American socio-political discourse
Abstract As an exceptionally rich analogy, the body politic continues to influence contemporary conceptual systems, although quite differently to those of the pre-Enlightenment era. In recent years, the idea of the macroscopic correspondence between the human body and society has been reinterpreted as THE SOCIETY IS A HUMAN BODY metaphor, with Cognitive scholars re-examining previous findings of cultural criticism in terms of CMT and CBT. The rhetorical efficacy of this metaphor stems from the ease of blending its two constituent domains into complex, yet comprehensible wholes; in fact, these domains have coalesced to a degree, as there was a period when every mention of the BODY implied a (sub)conscious commentary on the SOCIETY, and vice versa. An adaptive metaphor, the body politic stands as a touchstone of the political beliefs of those who employ it. In the paper I analyse a particularly pervasive subset of micrometaphors that form a part of the modern body politic analogy, namely, the IMMIGRANTS ARE INVADING PATHOGENS metaphors. I demonstrate how the (post)modern American political discourse employs the analogy of the body politic in order to lay the blame for all social ills on immigrants, likening foreigners to germs, parasites and other pathogens that creep into America.