From anil dash, blogging about how culture is made:
What’s striking to me this election season, though, is that Sarah Palin has chosen to abuse her command of language so obviously without suffering any serious criticism for it thus far.
The crux of the issue is simple:
- Sarah Palin has unequivocally associated Barack Obama with the idea of terrorism and specifically with “terrorists”.
- Republican President George Bush has defined in our National Security Strategy, and the Republican Party’s platform affirms, that we may identify and strike at terrorists before they have committed any defined acts of aggression against American citizens.
- George Bush has made clear, by stating before a joint session of Congress that “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.”
- Palin has used deliberate choice of language to avoid these connections being highlighted by the media, while increasing the likelihood that the target audience for her message will be incited by her statements.
Through these arguments, it becomes clear that Sarah Palin’s assertions are designed not to prove that Obama is unqualified for the office of the Presidency of the United States. Rather, she appears to be attempting to convince a substantial portion of her supporters that Obama supports terrorism against the United States and thus should be, at the very least, incarcerated as an enemy combatant (which we are doing to American citizens already) or at worst, assassinated for supporting terror. She has done this knowing full well that she can retain plausible deniability thanks to the ambiguity of her statements as they’ll be interpreted by the media, by her detractors, and by her more reasonable supporters.
… the most dramatic technique in Sarah Palin’s speeches is the use of vernacular to mask the seriousness of an assertion. Sarah Palin cloaks her ideas in “straight talk” to avoid them being subject to fact-checking that would happen if she were to use standard english to make the same points.
Put simply, if Palin says “Barack Obama consorts with terrorists”, she is making the assertion that he supports acts of violence against American citizens and the media will refute this obviously false assertion. If, instead, Palin says he “pals around with terrorists”, she’s used code-switching to mask the seriousness of the charge, obfuscating her meaning enough to get away with making an assertion that inevitably calls for the imprisonment or even assassination of a political opponent.
Reporters wrongly see a term like “palling” as imprecise, when compared to a word like “consorting”.
But these words are not imprecise to their intended audience. They are, in fact, clearer than using legalistic terms like “consorting”. They amplify the urgency of the statements, and increase the sense for Palin’s audience that they’re on the same page with her, speaking a language too “plain”, too full of “straight talk”, for the press to understand. And they’re right. Palin has consistently pitted herself against the media, depicting them as hostile and foreign to her campaign, and thus making it even less likely they’d take her less formal-sounding charges seriously.
On top of this, by deliberately omitting the word “domestic” as a descriptor of “terrorist” after its initial mention in her speeches, Palin has amplified the recurring theme of “otherness” that the McCain campaign and its surrogates have pinned on Obama. There is an unequivocal attempt to assign a commonality of purpose and intent between Obama, his supporters and campaigners, and terrorists who would attack Americans.
I believe the vast majority of supporters of the campaign of John McCain are honorable, honest, well-intentioned and sincere Americans who want what’s best for this country. And I believe that all of us, regardless of party affiliation or political support, deserve better than someone who cynically twists language to inflame and incite the very worst elements of our culture. That’s why it’s important to point out the danger of these actions.
Sarah Palin’s conduct has gone far past the bounds of decency, and far past even the most dangerous efforts of any previous candidate for such high office. This is an inexcusable, unforgivable, and unacceptable transgression and my belief is that she should be removed from consideration for the office of Vice President for her dangerous, unethical and unamerican display of irresponsibility.
This is a fascinating and important piece of writing – read the whole thing here
via wood s lot