FRIEND OR FOE?: NAMING THE ENEMY by ProQuest

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Taking the writings of Thomas Jefferson and David Walker as a starting point, this essay extrapolates a rhetorical theory of naming the enemy. In democracies, especially those built on Judeo-Christian traditions, bad character makes enemies enemies. However, as character is easily masked, the process of naming enemies is necessarily one of reading the signs. Thus, Jefferson focuses on his enemies' appearances, whereas Walker focuses on how his enemies talk. Because both means of naming the enemy are deeply flawed, democratic culture is perpetually in the process of negotiating its enemies as they are rhetorically named and unnamed. [PUBLICATION ABSTRACT]

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									             FRIEND OR FOE?: NAMING THE ENEMY
                                      JEREMY ENGELS




Taking the writings of Thomas Jefferson and David Walker as a starting point,
this essay extrapolates a rhetorical theory of naming the enemy. In democracies,
especially those built on Judeo-Christian traditions, bad character makes enemies
enemies. However, as character is easily masked, the process of naming enemies is
necessarily one of reading the signs. Thus, Jefferson focuses on his enemies’ appear-
ances, whereas Walker focuses on how his enemies talk. Because both means of
naming the enemy are deeply flawed, democratic culture is perpetually in the
process of negotiating its enemies as they are rhetorically named and unnamed.


I  n A Rhetoric of Motives, Kenneth Burke offers students of rhetoric what was
   then a revolutionary but is now a commonplace way of envisioning what
they study. Though Burke’s work is clearly engaged with the rhetorical canon,
his innovation comes by adding the term “identification” to the traditional rhe-
torical emphasis on rhetoric as “persuasion.” Identification does not supplant
persuasion for Burke, but it does precede it. Deploying identification as a key
term in his “philosophy of rhetoric,” Burke seeks “to mark off the areas of rhet-
oric, by showing how a rhetorical motive is often present where it is not usually
recognized, or thought to belong.”1 Doing this, he hopes, will help his audi-
ence to develop the sense of “neo-stoic resignation” praised in A Grammar of
Motives.2 It will also, he hopes, help people get along.3
   A Rhetoric of Motives works simultaneously on at least three levels. First,
Burke studies rhetoric to affirm that identification is present even in rhetorics
of difference and hierarchy. Second, Burke attempts to persuade his audience
that tolerance and “neo-stoic resignation” are desirable qualities. Third, Burke
outlines the available means of identification—“the resources of identification
whereby a sense of consubstantiality is symbolically established between beings
of unequal status.”4 Burke’s A Rhetoric of Motives is not a mere philosophical

Jeremy Engels is Assistant Professor of Communication Arts & Sciences at Penn State University
in University Park. He wishes to thank Greg Goodale, Stephen Hartnett, and Mike Tumolo, as
well as the three anonymous reviewers and Martin Medhurst, for their helpful feedback on ear-
lier drafts of this essay.

© 2009 Michigan State University Board of Trustees. All rights reserved.
Rhetoric & Public Affairs Vol. 12, No. 1, 2009, pp. 37–64
ISSN 1094-8392
38                                                       RHETORIC & PUBLIC AFFAIRS

inquiry into some abstract phenomenon, then, because rhetoric serves both
a pragmatic function of helping us walk around in the world and a norma-
tive function of imaging a more humane future. Burke’s point is that even in
a scene of conflict and division, in the Human Barnyard and the Logomachy,
identification is possible and, indeed, entailed. To sooth social ills, Burke argues
that students of rhetoric must recognize rhetoric’s potential f
								
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