Faculty Publications
 

Title

Violent Words: Strategies and Legal Impacts of White Supremacist Language

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2021

Abstract

This Article traces the history of three terms in use by white supremacists in the United State within the last and current centuries: “race suicide,” “white genocide,” and “replacement.” It reviews the contexts that gave rise to their usage and analyzes the ways the terms have moved between fringe and mainstream political discourses. Each term, whether as “coded” (also known as “dog-whistle”) or overt expression, characterizes the temporal fears and concerns of the political far right. The Article observes and examines how and when the terms broke into the mainstream, and how they impact public discussion, including policy and law, on specific substantive areas such as abortion rights, immigration, miscegenation laws, laws governing free speech, and voting rights. The Article focuses mainly on the discursive impacts on immigration and inequality pursuant to the franchise. The analysis draws upon scholarly literature and popular journalism. There is value in grappling with the complex meanings and associations of words that at face value seem extreme, excessive, or outrageous, and might therefore be dismissed. This is because the words often hide the strategy of denial and obfuscation that may render them persuasive to a vulnerable and fearful populace in times of stress. Highlighting the hidden strategies, and narrowing the gap, so to speak, between the words and the violence they signify, may contribute to their disempowerment within legal and political discourse.

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