political rhetoric

The True Ecumenism Spadaro and Figueroa Missed

Jesuit Antonio Spadaro and Protestant Marcelo Figueroa recently published what can only be described as a diatribe against my friends and me. It was highly personal because it was directed right at a coalition of believers who have banded together to advance what a previous pope referred to as a Culture of Life. The column [...]

A Disturbing Portrait of the Present-Day American Left

I’ve argued in previous columns that at bottom the problem of the left is a lack of integrity and that it’s hard to find a prominent leftist who truly exhibits integrity—at least in his assessments of politics and public affairs. I’ve also mentioned the obvious inconsistencies in the positions taken by the left, and the [...]

The Brine of Caustic Comments

“No one,” we read in St. James’s epistle, “has ever been able to tame the tongue. It is evil and uncontrollable, full of deadly poison” (3:8). One wonders if Phil Montag, until very recently an official for the Democratic party in Nebraska, ever read, or understood, St. James. Montag was properly fired after he was [...]

Throwing Stones: Everyone’s Favorite Fallacy

Classical education required students, before anything else, to learn the basic building blocks of thought. In the ancient trivium, students learned grammar, logic, and rhetoric, or how language, argument, and persuasion work. As emphasis on these arts has decreased, so has our society’s capacity to think. And where thought decreases, emotion increases, so that we [...]

Why Cultural Renewal Requires a Restoration of Meaning

One of the most common attitudes I encounter with today’s college students is a kind of blasé non-judgmentalism—or, worse, a passively nihilistic relativism. They are reluctant to label any behavior or belief bad, even if, in the most extreme thought experiments, it involves killing innocents. This attitude seems to get worse every year; it’s as [...]

Reflections on Pro-Life Protest Rhetoric

I teach first-year rhetoric and composition to freshmen at a fairly large university squarely in the center of the American Midwest. In September, as part of the introductory unit, we cover some basic rhetorical concepts, including the famous “triangle” of rhetorical appeals: logos, ethos, and pathos. Logos, I explain, is the appeal to reason: does [...]

Ruthless Ideology and the End of Debate

Some days ago, Josh Barro of the New York Times tweeted the following message: “Anti-LGBT attitudes are terrible for people in all sorts of communities. They linger and oppress, and we need to stamp them out, ruthlessly.” It’s quite a statement for a public figure to make—for anyone to make—but especially one supposedly devoted to [...]

Politics as a Form of Public Education

As we head into another election season, we’ll see the customary television sound bites, vague bloviating speeches by politicians far and wide, politicians pandering to different groups with a host of promises, and the usual recent practice of “gotcha politics.” While the fundamental causes of the woes of our electoral politics are poor citizenship formation [...]

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