political rhetoric

The Political Left Is Ruining Sports

As expected, the U.S. Women’s National Team won the Women’s World Cup. As also expected, members of the women’s team, led by chief spokeswoman Megan Rapinoe, were known as much for their politics as for their play. Rapinoe got it going with her comment that she wouldn't visit the “f–ing” White House if she was [...]

Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and Abortion Newspeak

Seventy years ago in June 1949 George Orwell’s dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four was published. On June 7, 2019, the day prior to Nineteen Eighty-Four’s 70th anniversary, The Guardian, the United Kingdom’s leading socialist newspaper, announced: “Why the Guardian is changing the language it uses to describe abortion bans.” What follows in this pronouncement would have [...]

Pronouns, Prefixes, and the Cult of the Self

This will sound like a humorous question, but it is one I have turned over in my mind for months now, and one that cultural conservatives and practicing Christians will eventually have to confront: how much should we care about pronouns? Put differently, should we care that one individual wants to be called “they”? Or [...]

How to Overcome Nonfactual Emotional “Arguments”

In his essay “Why No Civility is Possible Today,” Fr. James V. Schall, S.J. writes that, “A common good can be worked out among those citizens who may prudentially disagree on this or that point of policy.” It is necessary for citizens to come together and debate because there is almost never one single way [...]

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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