War of the words: The role of political rhetoric during wartime
During times of war, language can be a powerful tool. Political leaders can wield it to change hearts and minds, but also to justify the use of violence.
Political rhetoric has been everywhere since the October 7th Hamas attack on Israel and the subsequent Israeli response in Gaza. The Hamas attack killed 1,200 people in Israel, mostly civilians, and another 240 were kidnapped. Israel's military response has killed more than 18,000 people in Gaza, mostly civilians, with tens of thousands more injured. Most of the enclave's 2.3 million people have been displaced amid a worsening humanitarian catastrophe. There is also rising violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, which is controlled by Fatah, not Hamas.
So how does what we hear from politicians inform how we think about the current war?
Today, we’ll examine the role of rhetoric in our politics — and how it can contribute to violence at home and abroad.
- Paul Achter: Associate professor of rhetoric, University of Richmond
- Ned O'Gorman: Professor of communication, University of Illinois - Urbana Champaign
- Jason Stanley: Professor of philosophy, Yale University; co-author of The Politics of Language