Author: Ryan Skinnell

Nazi Science: Coronavirus Edition

I decided to try posting this one on Medium. I posted the first few paragraphs below, and the full post can be accessed here: https://medium.com/@ryan.skinnell/nazi-science-coronavirus-edition-bac4c2a0ed15?sk=eb9579d771e4125548f77d2a84f7ddab Noted flim-flam artists and doctors of low repute—including Dr. Oz and Dr. Phil—have recently been trotted out by right-wing media outlets to bemoan Coronavirus social distancing directives as “worse than … Continue reading Nazi Science: Coronavirus Edition

Why Do People Keep Trusting Trump in a Global Pandemic?

In the past few weeks, even before nearly the entire country went on lockdown to slow the spread of COVID-19, Donald Trump has been addressing the country in daily press conferences. With all due respect—all due respect—they’re bananas. He contradicts his experts, denies the observable realities we’re all experiencing, and jovially pats himself on the … Continue reading Why Do People Keep Trusting Trump in a Global Pandemic?

Reflections on Super Tuesday: Yearning for Unity

In 1939, just months before WWII broke out with Germany’s invasion of Poland, rhetorician Kenneth Burke wrote a very detailed book review of Mein Kampf. It was Burke’s attempt to understand how Hitler had “swung a great people into his wake.” At the time, Germany was one of the most literate, highly-educated countries in Europe, … Continue reading Reflections on Super Tuesday: Yearning for Unity

“Debates Don’t Matter,” and Other Silly Notions

A little over 7 years ago, I wrote a blog post about the importance of debates in Presidential politics. Obama was running for re-election against Romney, and they were debating each other about a month before the election. At the time, I wrote: "As I surfed Fizzborg, the Twitter, and other haunts of the political … Continue reading “Debates Don’t Matter,” and Other Silly Notions

I Will Tell You Everything I Know in 1,000 Words or Fewer

As I prepare to give a talk at an upcoming conference, the Conference on College Composition and Communication, I'm stuck by a complication in the task that lies ahead me. The talk I'm giving is about public intellectualism and the push among academics to do more public-facing, publicly-consumable work. It's about making what academics know … Continue reading I Will Tell You Everything I Know in 1,000 Words or Fewer

Demagoguery and the Dangers of “Extreme Democracy”

I recently published an academic article, “Using Democracy Against Itself: Demagogic Rhetoric as an Attack on Democratic Institutions,” where I wrote about “extreme democracy” as a form of demagoguery (The abstract is here. If you want to read the whole thing, let me know). Specifically, I argued that a consistent—perhaps defining—characteristic of demagoguery is that … Continue reading Demagoguery and the Dangers of “Extreme Democracy”

Anti-Compromise Rhetoric, Rabid Factionalism, and the Threat to Democracy

Project Veritas (or PV, for short) released a new “gotcha”-style video exposé this week in which a Bernie Sanders field organizer, Kyle Jurak, makes a series of troubling, violent claims about what will happen if Bernie isn’t the Democratic nominee and eventual President of the United States. Much as I hate to say it, I … Continue reading Anti-Compromise Rhetoric, Rabid Factionalism, and the Threat to Democracy

Electability Politics and the Dwindling Democratic Diversity

Cory Booker suspended his presidential campaign this morning, leaving Andrew Yang, Tulsi Gabbard, and Deval Patrick as the only remaining candidates of color in what began as the most diverse candidate pool in American presidential history. According to RealClearPolitics’ poll averages, Yang is polling at about 3.5%, Gabbard at 2.3%, and Patrick didn’t even make … Continue reading Electability Politics and the Dwindling Democratic Diversity

Maybe Let’s Leave “I Don’t Care” to the Fascists, Yeah?

Beginning as early as 2009, a series of memes began circulating on social media that were intended to demonstrate in comical ways the lack of interest or care someone felt on a particular day or about a particular issue. Colloquially, they’re the “Look at all the fucks I give” memes, with the unmistakable implication that … Continue reading Maybe Let’s Leave “I Don’t Care” to the Fascists, Yeah?

Nazi “Science” and Jewish “Genius”

In March 1966, rhetoric and communication scholar Haig A. Bosmajian published an article in ETC.: A Review of General Semantics called, “The Magic Word in Nazi Persuasion.” In the article, Bosmajian wrote about how Adolf Hitler and other prominent Nazis realized very early on that, while they needed terror, violence, and intimidation to gain and … Continue reading Nazi “Science” and Jewish “Genius”