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"Dog Whistles" -- How much naivete is too much?

Xelor

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Thread Rubric:
CNN has released Marc Lamont Hill (MLH) from his contract as a commentator on CNN
. Currently the thinking is that CNN did so because its management objects to his use of the phrase "from the river to the sea." That phrase is, in the region, among Palestinians, Israelis and their supporters is recognized as rhetorical clarion call analogous in purpose -- pithy representation of ideas far more complex than the words themselves -- to any number of those with which Americans are familiar from various US socio-political movements.

For example:
  • Make America great again
  • We shall overcome
  • Power to the People
  • We're here. We're queer. Get over it.
  • Act Up.
  • I am woman; hear me roar.
  • Tippecanoe and Tyler Too
  • Make love, not war.
  • War is not the answer.
Just as people knew what the above slogans referred to, so too do people living the Israeli-Palestinian conflict know what is meant by "From the river to the sea." The start of the video below illustrates the popularity of the slogan. (You can watch the whole thing if you just want to understand the body of ideas it encapsulates.)


CNN, however, construed, or is concerned that too many others might do, Hill's remarks as a "dog whistle" advocating the dissolution/transition of Israel from a Jewish state to a Palestinian one.



Thread Discussion Theme/Topic:
In the circumstances surrounding Hill's remarks and subsequent release from his contract, one sees the key dilemma that is this thread's topic: how to accurately reconcile whether a speaker's remarks are indeed a "dog whistle."

For me, discerning whether something "dog whistles" to an ignominious subset of one's audience depends on the speaker:

  • Know, should have known or had reason to know:
    • When speakers use language harkening to well known imagery and ideology, audience members must assess whether the person knowingly educed notions too impolitic to air directly.
      • Is it reasonable to expect the speaker knew the implications of what s/he said/did?
      • Does the speaker have a history that suggests s/he embraces the allegedly "dog whistled" sentiments?
    • "Plausible deniability":
      • What reason(s) has the speaker for obfuscating the true nature of his/her sentiments?
      • What is the nature of plausible deniability attendant to the "dog whistle" phrase used in a given set of remarks?
    • Corroborating info:
      • Do the preponderance of the speaker's other behaviors militate for thinking they "dog whistled?"
Insofar as cogently answering those questions depends on the speaker's acumen and knowledge and on an observer's knowledge of the speaker, plus, in most cases the listener also being well informed about the specific circumstances' history. Often enough, I think, audience members may not have enough information to accurately answer all the relevant questions.

To wit, the phrase Hill used, until today, was fully unknown to me; thus I wouldn't have taken umbrage upon hearing it. Having learned about the saying and how its used, I understand why, if nobody else, Jews would be incensed. It's no different for any other identity group's members who hear utterances that remind them of what they once heard or were told of in worse times.

So, when an Israeli says to me Hill's remark is a "dog whistle" alluding to "such and such," I must minimally acknowledge the plausibility his/her being correct about the nature of Hill's remark. When a Black says to me one or another of Trump or Hyde-Smith or Desantis' remark is a dog-whistle, I have to recognize the same. All that distinguishes the anti-Black "whistle" from the anti-Israel one is that I'm vastly more familiar with US history (though not 100% cognizant of all of US history) and current events than I am with those in Israel. If I care, the next step is to answer the questions noted above, and to do that, I've got to do some research.
 

Hawkeye10

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The whole "Dog Whistle" idea is nonsense because with a reality dog whistle only the dog hears it, the human does not, the one who is not intended to hear it does not. What we got told however is that someone hears a dog whistle that was intended for someone else, and more often than not the someone else....the dog in this story....denies hearing anything of the sort.
 

Xelor

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The whole "Dog Whistle" idea is nonsense because with a reality dog whistle only the dog hears it, the human does not, the one who is not intended to hear it does not. What we got told however is that someone hears a dog whistle that was intended for someone else, and more often than not the someone else....the dog in this story....denies hearing anything of the sort.

21kareneyeroll.gif
 
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