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Incendiary Speech That Spurs Violence is Rising in US, But Tools Exist to Shrink It

Faculty Associate Susan Benesch writes about incendiary speech in political American discourse, and the rampant rise of it.

"We have found that dangerous speech is uncannily similar from case to case, across cultures and languages: it often features particular rhetorical devices like dehumanization, claiming that others pose a threat to vulnerable people (especially women and children), and questioning the loyalty of group members who dissent. American far-right discourse is full of all this: see for example QAnon and anti-LGBTQ activists’ allegations about child abuse and pedophilia, and the harsh repudiation of Republicans who question former President Donald Trump. American history is also full of such language and images, demonizing Black people for example, especially Black men. This kind of communication calls for violence clearly enough so that the intended audience understands, and indirectly enough so that the speaker can later deny responsibility for attacks. Trump is an expert at it, as are many of his admirers."

Read more in Just Security.

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