Readers, Writers, Texts

Hate Speech

One of the most terrible things about a national security crisis, real or imagined, is that xenophobic leaders instill fear and terror about people who are different from the majority. It is shockingly easy to do, and is part and parcel of human linguistic cultures. In this section you’ll see how language has been used to wound, hurt, divide, oppress and dehumanize groups of people, with a particular focus on the way migrant peoples are described by people in power (be it journalists, radio hosts or politicians). This kind of language enables people – often even good people – to view others as less than human.

Find out about language which dehumanises and divides people in this section by reading a few of the following articles; they focus on the language used to discuss migrants – people who move from one country to another:

Class Activity: Rescue Boats

Caution is recommended when reading this particularly distasteful article. Written by controversial right-wing columnist Katie Hopkins, the article achieved a certain notoriety when it was first published. Amongst all the vitriol, can you identify the ways in which Hopkins constructs her argument against migrants? Look out for the following techniques:

  • Naming
  • Noun Phrases
  • Institutional voices
  • Silencing

Learner Portfolio

What uses of language describe groups of people such as migrants? Is this type of language acceptable? Why or why not? Record your thoughts in a one-two page journal entry.


Paper 1 Text Type Focus: press release vs rant

At the end of your course you will be asked to analyze unseen texts (1 at Standard Level and 2 at Higher Level) in an examination. You will be given a guiding question that will focus your attention on formal or stylistic elements of the text(s), and help you decode the text(s)’ purpose(s). Below are two sets of resources based on the topic of hate speech against migrants: an official press release and a semi-structured rant from a campaign rally. Compare and contrast the language used in each text type, noting down the genre tropes for each one. Add the texts to your Learner Portfolio; you will want to revise text types thoroughly before your Paper 1 exam:

Body of Work: Pat Buchanan Blogs and Articles

In August of 2015, a migration debate exploded in the news media. Catalyzed by the shocking photo of a drowned boy washed ashore in Turkey, the migration ‘crisis’, was at the forefront of the news for a month, and is still simmering away in the background. Every now and again a populist leader will invoke the ‘migrant crisis’ and the issue will return to the forefront of the news cylce.

The language of migration, immigration, and refuge is jam packed with opportunities to discuss Global Issues in relation to how language is being used. The articles in this Body of Work are from a distasteful source; Pat Buchanan is a right-wing columnist who supports America’s more divisive recent policies, and is persistent in his depiction of immigration as a metaphorical ‘invasion’ of Western society. However, he writes with skill and elan, and couches his arguments in a pseudo-logic that may make them compelling to the unwary reader. Nevertheless, you won’t have to look hard to find some of the techniques you’ve learned about in this section, such as name-calling, fear-mongering, silencing and the invocation of institutional voices. You may also like to revisit common techniques used in the creation of racial stereotypes (or even preview your learning about logical fallacies) so you can debunk his polemic even more thoroughly.

Towards Assessment: Individual Oral

“Supported by an extract from one non-literary text and one from a literary work, students will offer a prepared response of 10 minutes, followed by 5 minutes of questions by the teacher, to the following prompt:

Examine the ways in which the global issue of your choice is presented through the content and form of two of the texts that you have studied. (40 marks)

IB Language and Literature Guide

These articles would make ideal texts to use in this assessed activity. The named author would be ‘Pat Buchanan.’ You could explore the Global Issues of: Politics, Power and Justice or Culture, Identity and Community. You may have ideas about how to pair the articles with the literary texts you are studying. If not, don’t worry; speak to your teacher or use the following suggestions as a starting point:

  • Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice – think Act 1 Scene 3 in which Shylock describes his treatment at the hands of Antonio and the Christian gang; or Act 4 Scene 1, the courtroom scene, in which Shylock is subject to a torrent of abuse from the gallery – and is even subject to prejudice from the Duke himself.
  • Ismail Kadare’s Broken April – a more tricky pairing might be with Kadare’s work, but you could certainly delve into the unpleasant thoughts of Mark Ukacierrra and his prejudices against women and intellectuals in chapter 4.

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