Wednesday, March 9, 2011

identification and division: the muslim factor

To follow up on the last post, I saw this new website recently launched by the "What Unites Us" campaign. If you look at the pics they have on the site, it seems that what unites us is that we're all really grouchy.

The rhetorical stance of the site is fascinating: It's a counter-response to anti-Muslim rhetoric that appeals to commonality against divisiveness. Yet the role of the site so far is to out politicians for participating in anti-Muslim rallies (like this disgraceful one in Yorba Linda, CA) and/or rhetoric. So instead of focusing specifically on the admirable qualities that unite us, the site unites us against those who divide us.

Uncle KB (not this one, but this one) taught us that in the rhetorical act of identifying our cause with our audience's, we imply division. It cannot be helped. Identification and division are in natural counterpoise in a them/us dialectic whose resolution depends on whether the competing terms or parties can discover that elusive third term that will, in KB's words, "bridge the gulf."

It is disheartening to see Christian/Muslim tension erupt in violence in Cairo at the moment when there was some hope for pluralism.

1 comment:

  1. I wrote several different comments but I deleted all of them before posting--so I will just ask a question instead, which is safer. Are there any examples of groups who were more able to identify with "the other" because they were a part of a united group--who were actually able to bridge that gulf? The website seems to be trying to do that, by saying "We're American and Americans have these values," but they use the anti-Muslim politicians to show the need for being united. Have any groups successfully unified themselves without vilifying "the other"? And if there is nothing to vilify, where is the urgency in being united? Why would people want to be united if there was no "other" to fear?