Dogwhistles and figleaves : how manipulative language spreads racism and falsehood / Jennifer Mather Saul.

Saul, Jennifer Mather, 1968- [Browse]
  • Oxford : Oxford University Press, [2024]
  • ©2024
xvi, 222 pages ; 23 cm


Summary note
It is widely accepted that political discourse in recent years has become more openly racist and more filled with wildly implausible conspiracy theories. Dogwhistles and Figleaves explores certain ways in which such changes - both of which defied previously settled norms of political speech - have been brought about. Jennifer Saul shows that two linguistic devices, dogwhistles and figleaves, have played a crucial role. Some dogwhistles (such as "88," used by Nazis online to mean "Heil Hitler") serve to disguise messages that would otherwise be rejected as unacceptable, allowing them to be transmitted surreptitiously. Other dogwhistles (like the 1988 "Willie Horton" ad) work by influencing people in ways that they are not aware of, and which they would likely reject were they aware. Figleaves (such as "just asking questions") take messages that could easily be recognized as unacceptable, and provide just enough cover that people become more willing to accept them. Importantly, these work against the background of a divided public. They are particularly effective in influencing people who are conflicted yet malleable--those who don't want to be racist, for example, but are willing to be convinced that something which seems racist really isn't. Saul shows how these dogwhistles and figleaves have both exploited and widened existing divisions in society, and normalized racist and conspiracist speech.
Bibliographic references
Includes bibliographical references and index.
  • Introduction
  • Racism
  • White racism, white folk racial theory, and white racial discourse
  • Racial dogwhistles
  • Figleaves for racism
  • Falsehood
  • The rise of blatant falsehood
  • Figleaves, dogwhistles, and falsehood
  • Obvious falsehoods without deniability
  • Dogwhistles, figleaves, and the fight against racism and blatant falsehood.
  • 9780192871756 ((hardcover))
  • 0192871757 ((hardcover))
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