By equating good language with good people and bad language with bad people, we trick ourselves into believing that we (that is, people who use language well) could never fall for someone like Hitler.
Last week, I finished co-facilitating the 2021 Rhetoric Society of America Summer Institute seminar, “Rhetoric in Dark Times.” It was a career goal I never really expected to reach, and it was everything I hoped it would be. But the experience also got me thinking anew about the somewhat vexed transition points in academic careers … Continue reading A Too-Long Reflection on Being a “Leader in the Field”
Last year, when I went up for tenure, I had a hard time quantifying my teaching and administrative work -- which at San José State University get collected together under the heading, "Academic Assignment." I thought I kept pretty detailed records, but my tenure portfolio called the lie to that assumption. Not because I couldn't … Continue reading Academic Assignment by the Numbers
Jamal Khashoggi is dead. The journalist was murdered on October 2, 2018 at the Saudi consulate in Turkey. The available evidence suggests with increasing certainty that it was plotted and carried out by members of Saudi crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman’s, coterie of advisors and confidantes. The scandal over Khashoggi’s murder has only grown over … Continue reading Why is Trump Covering Up Jamal Khashoggi’s Murder?
Brett Kavanaugh's "goodness" was treated by his supporters as more relevant to his qualifications to be on SCOTUS than his experience and/or judicial record.
Doctor Jill Biden wrote and defended a doctoral dissertation in 2007—the crowning achievement of an advanced educational process that entitles a person to the professional title, “Doctor.” Hence, her title. On December 11, 2020, noted literary arbiter and cultural critic, mister Joseph Epstein, declared Biden’s professional distinction “fraudulent, not to say a touch comic” in … Continue reading The Revolting Logic of Joseph Epstein’s “Unpromising Title”
At the beginning of September, Facebook announced that they suspended five accounts affiliated with “Peace Data,” a news website launched by Russia’s social media propaganda wing, the Internet Research Agency. The IRA, of course, was instrumental in the Russian disinformation campaigns in the run-up to the 2016 election. This year, they even hired unwitting American … Continue reading The Russian Trolls Are Hard at Work: Progressives and Leftists Edition
In 1953, famed political philosopher and Jewish-German exile, Leo Strauss, coined a term to describe a trope that he increasingly saw circulating in public discourse: reductio ad Hilterum. Reductio ad Hitlerum is a fallacy used in arguments to discredit anything that can be associated with or compared to Hitler. Hitler liked dogs? Then liking dogs … Continue reading No, You’re Hitler!: A History and a Proposal
There has been a veritable flood of new information this week about Russian interference in American elections, including the release of a Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee report confirming the Trump campaign’s coordination with Russian operatives before the 2016 election. In a press release issued upon the full release of the Intelligence Committee report, House Speaker … Continue reading The Russian Trolls Are Hard at Work: Democrats/Liberals/Centrists Edition
A little over a week ago, Director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, William R. Evanina, released an update in the organization’s ongoing investigation into foreign efforts to influence American elections. Among its conclusions was the following: We assess that Russia is using a range of measures to primarily denigrate former Vice President Biden … Continue reading The Russian Trolls Are Hard at Work, and It’s Working