A reflection on the events of June 16, 2015, presents Donald J. Trump in Trump headquarters eagerly awaited by passionate fans. Analogous to the looks on The Apprentice reality show, every bit of his appearance resembled a culturally-obsessed and modern personality. Fans had high expectations of him, and as the escalator propelled him, it was evident that extraordinary events about his campaigns were about to unfold. It was a time to launch a political phase geared towards making America great again. Trump was keen to explain the challenges linked to illegal migration and the negative consequences of shipping jobs to places like China. In a big way, Trump indicated that “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best […] They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems. They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists, and some, I assume are good people” (Trump, 2015). These comments attracted condemnation from democrats and a section of the Republicans, with many analysts flagging his campaign strategy as peripheral. One thing was clear, though: the strategic approach for his campaigns.
Criticism and negative comments with racist bias would dictate his 18 months that followed, particularly towards immigrant groups such as Muslims and occupants of inner-city America. He founded his Birtherism arguments from the claims that President Obama lacked the spirit of American citizenship because of his background. While his election on November 8, 2016, was assured, it was challenging for the political class. They struggled to comprehend the logistics behind his rising power as the President (Inwood, 2019). The purpose of this linguistic analytic paper is to examine Trump’s tweets, particularly those with racial bias and directed to the minority groups such as Hispanic-Muslims, African-America, Latino and Asian women. This examination is based on Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA). The analysis adopts the Van Dijk model as the preferred analytical framework. With these tools in place, the focus will consider strategic ideologies of Trump’s tweets’ responses to fathom their stances’ nature.
1.1. Van Dijk’s Ideological Square
The application of Dijk’s model helps strengthen the analytical process for ideologies. The model is informed by four principal approaches (Van Dijk, 1998, p.267):
Â· Emphasize or expression of positive information about Us
Â· Emphasize or expression of negative information about Them
Â· De-emphasize or suppression of positive information about Them
Â· De-emphasize or suppression of negative information about Us.
One of the first accessible tweets directed to the Arab Spring through his Twitter @realDonaldTrump emanates from search words like “Syria,” “Syrian refugees,” and “Arab Spring.” The same concerns relate to the tweets of February 28, 2017. These issues were fundamental in his campaign that targeted the Syrian War and refugee crisis. The words appeared to catch the attention of the populists (Kazzaz, 2020).
1.2. Identity construction
Politics of identity are indispensable in shaping political paths. Application of the visibly conspicuous terms like “them” and “us” depicts an element of dominance and control of one group over the other. Analysts argue that the two aspects are powerful tools in attaining legitimacy and stability in the world of politics (Wirth-Koliba, 2016, p.1). Such strategies attract concerns on how power and dominance are deployed in politics to attain a political following.
The Ideological Square is used to illustrate the reduced dominance of Syrian refugees in a linguistic dimension and, at the same time, depict their insignificant power (van Dijk, 1992, van Dijk, 1995, van Dijk, 2013). In this approach, the emphasis is given to the positivity in “us” and negativity in “them” to win the favor of the majority (van Dijk, 2013, p.222). An in-depth analysis reveals two broad categories of tweets employed by Trump. First, attacking Syrian refugees and the second expression of positivity of his position aligning that with continuous criticism of immigration ideologies by Obama. Trump twisted the ideologies to illustrate that the opponents were eager to allow Syrians to cross the borders. These themes were disguised in self-presentation and often hard to realize the nature of the intended message. Consider the following tweet.
The terrorists in Syria are calling themselves REBELS and getting away with it because our leaders are so completely stupid! [boldface emphasis added] (@realDonaldTrump, September 5, 2013)
The implication of the tweet and reference to the Syrians as “rebels” and refugee groups as “terrorists” (in different tweets) while alienating himself from the “stupidity” aspect of “us” shows some constructivism. Trump fights negativity that would have impacted undesirably on his campaign. However, this analysis focuses on the negative depiction of “them” and not the positivity of “us.” The selection of this dimension of the “them” analysis is unique owing to earlier studies that gave dominance to the aspect of “us” (Kazzaz, 2020).
1.3. Nomenclature choice: freedom fighters, rebels, Jihadis, or terrorists
In 2013, Trump addressed Syria and the Arab Springs specifically on the violence, which, according to him, was a phase supported by Obama’s administration. He was against the perceived support for both the Middle East and Syria, even to a point where he referred to them as “Jihadi.” Consider the following tweets:
a. Remember, all these ‘freedom fighters’ in Syria want to fly planes into our buildings. [boldface emphasis added] (@realDonaldTrump, Aug 28, 2013)
b. The terrorists in Syria are calling themselves REBELS and getting away with it because our leaders are so completely stupid! [boldface emphasis added] (@realDonaldTrump, September 5, 2013)
c. Many of the Syrian rebels are radical jihadi Islamists who are murdering Christians. Why would we ever fight with them? [boldface emphasis added] (@realDonaldTrump, Sept 6, 2013)
While there is a particular focus on the term used in different debates, Trump continued to use the predominant word “rebel” as in (2.2-c) against “freedom fighters” (2.2-a). The choice is motivated by the desire to own the credit because the perceived ‘freedom fighter” would portray some element of success and heroism similar to Nazis and French resistance. This would have gone against his campaign ideologies. In an equal measure, the use of “rebel” makes it a comfortable candidate of association with other unfavorable terms like “terrorist” and “Jihadis” as in (2.2-b) and (2.2-c). The adopted nomenclature was strategic in itself because of the rising chances of the claimed “rebels” becoming refugees at some point in the political phase. Further, the term is militarized, making it possible for Trump to link them with the Syrian War. Whichever angle the terms took, it had some positive benefits in the political career of Trump.
1.4. Nomenclature processes: collectivization and potential violence
Consider the following tweets for analyses.
a. Refugees from Syria are now pouring into our great country. Who knows who they are â€“ some could be ISIS. Is our president insane? [boldface emphasis added] (@realDonaldTrump, Nov 17, 2015)
b. 13 Syrian refugees were caught trying to get into the U.S. through the Southern Border. How many made it? WE NEED THE WALL! [boldface emphasis added] (@realDonaldTrump, Nov 22, 2015)
c. Crooked Hillary Clinton wants to flood our Country with Syrian immigrants that we know little or nothing about. The danger is massive. NO! [boldface emphasis added] (@realDonaldTrump, July 27, 2016)
d. refugees from Syria over 10k plus more coming. Lots of young males, poorly vetted. [sic, boldface emphasis added] (@realDonaldTrump, Sept 19, 2016)
e. “Five people killed in Washington State by a Middle Eastern immigrant.” [boldface emphasis added] (@realDonaldTrump, Sept 26, 2016)
The above tweets deepen the theme of violence even further by associating refugees with terrorists. Uniquely, he adds weight to the negativities that the Syrian refugees could expose the United States to considering their age and energy, see (2.3-d). To negate it even further, Trump instills fear accelerated by possible unknown identities as in (2.3-a). A closer look at the choice of words such as “flood” depicts metaphors to put more weight on the message (Khosravinik, 2009, p.486; Featherman, 2015, p.78). A similar study can be derived from the term “pouring,” as in (2.3-a). The application of such terms implies threats that come with irresistible capacity. According to Trump, a country flooded with Syrians equates to a county in immense danger see (2.3-c).
Further analysis of the tweets shows how Trump insinuates possible dangers that come with Syrians. He uses precise numbering to add features of reality and the accuracy of information. For example, “13 Syrian refugees,” as in (2.3-b), “over 10k plus,” as in (2.3-d). A contrast is invoked against victims of a terror attack such as “Five’ in the case of “Middle Eastern immigrant” as in (2.3-e). Application of numbers to the refugees offers the basis of collectivizing them, linking them with plight, and even degrading their human nature through omission acts.
The mentioned Middle Eastern immigrant, Arcan Cetin, refers to a Turkish descent who moved to the USA in his childhood. On September 23, 2016, the referred party was involved in a shooting that led to one man and four women’s death while calling out women’s names. According to the authorities, there were no established reasons behind the acts of terrorism (Anderson, 2016). There might be a variety of reasons for the killings. Singling out such violent cases by Trump and solely linking them to immigrants reveals collectivization geared towards refugees and other immigrants.
1.5. Spatiotemporal threat construction
According to the proximization theory and the “them” aspect and negativities, then, there is a clear effort to legitimize themes of protectionists and proactive entitlement of the USA towards self-protection. In this view, Trump’s tweets can be examined even further to reveal proximization tendencies against the refugees. There are three angles to it: Axiological, Spatial, and Temporal. Consider the following tweets.
a. If our border is not secure we can expect another attack. A country with open borders is open to the terrorists. [boldface emphasis added] (@realDonaldTrump, July 31, 2014)
b. Everyone is now saying how right I was with illegal immigration & the wall. After Paris, they’re all on the bandwagon. [boldface emphasis added] (@realDonaldTrump, November 19, 2015)
c. Europe and the U.S. must immediately stop taking in people from Syria. This will be the destruction of civilization as we know it! So sad! [boldface emphasis added] (@realDonaldTrump, March 24, 2016)
In Temporal proximization, Trump’s warnings about Syrians depicts them as dangerous and a possible crisis source. Of all other tendencies, this is the most conspicuous approach that signifies temporal techniques. The rhetoric is amplified by considering the Paris attack in November 2015, as in (2.4-b). The act was linked to ISIS and killed 130 people. The scene of the tragedy was characterized by passports from Egyptians and Syrians (Kazzaz, 2020). Trump quotes aspect of time to express the impending misfortune through self-presentation using terms like “I was right,” “now,” and “after” despite a different timing of the attack. The term “now” illustrates the urgency of legitimizing proposed actions against immigrants he links to terrorism. The choice of words about the Paris attack passes the refugees’ intent to run acts of terrorism. These dangers are portrayed as real and with temporal perspectives.
Spatial proximization is seen in the Syrian refugees’ representation bypassing the outside-the-deictic-center (ODC) discourse and the inside-the-deictic-center (IDC) in the USA. A specific examination of this incidence illustrates that Syrian refugees have a close link with immigrants at the southern border. The first analysis indicates anxiety on Trump and his followers’ side about the acts of illegality happening at the southern border. Syrians’ perceived entry believed to come from a distant country and whom the supporters share little information about indicates a possibility of infiltration leading to an overall immense danger once they mix with the already illegal immigrants. The second perspective portrays a theme of violence associated with Syrian refugees who act as radicalized Jihadis. According to Trump, they form a chain of a terrorist group, making them even more dangerous than ordinary immigrants. In this view, the narrative of “WE NEED A WALL” (@realDonaldTrump, November 11, 2015) attracts even more relevance.
Trump is persistent in reiterating that IDC to ODC distance continues to shrink (Cap, 2010, p.395). Further, it emphasizes the need to keep distance in efforts to secure the borders, as in (3-1), quoting that the ODC could import terrorist and radical ideologies that could take effect unknowingly. Axiology’s third proximization strategy is combined architecture within which epithets, nomenclature, spatial proximization, and temporal proximization operate.
1.6. Ideological strategies and stances taken
Trump used Twitter in 2016 to propagate the theme of immigration. The platform was ideal for attracting public reaction by paying particular attention to uncertainty issues with the refugees and their identities concerning associations with extremist groups. Doing so made him gather more points as a preferred presidential candidate. In the same school of thought, the escalation of naming nomenclature from “rebels,” “Jihadi,” and “terrorists” favored his campaign. The statements tallied well with the earlier stance of George W Bush regarding the infamous 9/11. That is:
Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists (Bush, 2001)
Choices by Trump also presented a detachment from what Obama referred to as violent extremists (Obama, 2009) by seizing radicalization processes to identify them. Though the process of radicalization does not translate to incidences of violence, the term used by Obama was by itself lethal because “to be radical is merely to reject the status quo, and not necessarily in a problematic or violent way” (Bartlet and Miller, 2012, p.2). Choosing the term “terrorist” was ideal for Trump because it was understandable and direct, unlike that of Obama that required an in-depth verification. Trump showed deep concern to secure national interests against threats emanating from social and physical domains and a detailed understanding of immigrants and refugees. His tactic was politically different from that of Obama owing to the unique nomenclature.
On the concept of violence: while the assumption about the Syrian refugees being “poorly vetted” was not entirely certain, 15,583 Syrian refugees admitted in the U.S. between 2014 and 2016 revealed different details altogether (Kallick et al., 2016, p.2). The vetting process conducted by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is thorough. The rigorous process involves a series of biometric registrations, biographic examinations, and analysis of travel documents. The process does not end there. There are diplomatic interviews and other operations conducted by the national security (USCIS, 2020). That is, “even if USCIS approves an applicant for refugee status, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) must still find that applicant admissible to the United States,” further, it has the rights to carry out “additional background checks of these individuals upon arrival at a U.S. port of entry” before entrance (USCIS, 2020).
When Trump quoted the above experiences with the USCIS, he escalated uncertainty issues brought by the refugees, mostly curbed by national security. Trump succeeded in inflicting the refugees’ negativities through axiological and ideological proximization, showing the need to keep distance through the wall. Deeper interpretation implies that spatiotemporal proximization directed to the violent refugees passing the discourse region and infiltrating through the southern border had every reason to decline. The construction of ideologies that address uncertainties through reviewing documents would serve as a safe way to legitimize the rhetoric. These uncertainties are principally hard to oppose owing to the nature of the possible threats posed by them.
The axiological strategy adopted and proposed by Trump was to justify building the wall to reduce immigration. It was one of the pillars that were central to his 2016 campaign. The unique approach was unique from that of predecessors and competitors because most Americans feared a repetition of events similar to 9/11. He also used the axiological proximization to fight his competitors. For example, he was fast to depict Hillary Clinton as irresponsible and flood the U.S. with Syrian refugees translating to a national threat. In an equal measure, the strategy legitimized his incoming administration to protect the borders and protect the entire United States.
Strategies dominated by fearmongering and assimilation of unique nomenclatures had a major contribution to the elections’ winning. The narratives broadcasted by Trump’s competitors had little effect on changing the deeply-planted fear among the Americans. For example, Executive Order 13769 and associated bans affected seven Muslim nations such as Syria. Such implications are results of axiological proximization that adopts the narrative that associates refugees to terrorism. Tweets by Trump portray a political ideology of presentation with the sole purpose of achieving anti-migration rhetoric, which appears legitimate. The approach can be interpreted as distorted. His method promoted an easier approach, an interaction with the majority without relying on third parties to disseminate information.
2. Trump tweets against women
2016 was the year that sexist opinions by Trump hit the limelight for the first time. Footage released about him indicated that he “[could] do anything to women,” even “[grabbing] them by the pussyâ€ all these owing to his position as a “star.” He was quick to dismiss such utterances and behavior, which he termed as “locker room talk” (“Kelly Oxford Sexual Assault Stories,” 2016). His sexist nature was seen in his administration as he continued assaulting women through tweets and claims of sexism. Often, Trump has registered some history in mocking women over their body looks and even depicting their resemblance to animals (Scotto di Carlo, 2020).
Both positives and negatives characterize a deep analysis of Trump’s tweets about Congress members since his inauguration to October 4, 2020. He engaged in more than 700 tweets about the members (Rascoe, 2020). He conspicuously spread his insults broadly and in different volumes to the “squad” comprised of four Democratic congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts. Additionally, the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Maxine Moore Waters- Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee and House representative for California. The series of events began in mid-July, where he attacked the “squad,” notably the women of color. He indicated they should “go back” to what he referred to as the “totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came.” He kept the tweeting trend about the “squad” for nearly three months and approximately 20 incidences of attacks.
Table 1: Trump tweets regarding the squad – the number indicates the frequency the phrase was used (adopted from Rascoe, 2020)
None of the above
Radical Left “Squad”
nightmare for America
So bad for our country
hatred of Jews and Israel
Trump derangement syndrome
Not good for the Democrats!
destroying the Democrat Party
vile and disgusting statements
three radical left congresswomen
wedded to this bitterness and hate
vicious young Socialist Congresswomen
should apologize to America (and Israel)
brought racist attacks against our nation
endorsing Socialism, hatred of Israel and the USA!
The four Congresswomen are [not] capable of loving our country.
people that have said unthinkably bad things about it & the Israeli people
look at the horrible things they said about our Country, Israel, and much more.
very Racist group of troublemakers who are young, inexperienced, and not very smart
go back and help fix the broken and crime-infested places from which they came
AOC plus 3 (5)
AOC Plus 4 is the new face of the Democrat Party
now the topmost visible members of the House Democrats
The squad (18)
The phrases indicated in table 1 are derived from relevant tweets by Donald Trump. The choice of language is tailored to address Trump supporters of white descent whom Trump believed were worried about their country’s state. In particular, the rapidly changing demographics. Adopting the campaign slogan “Make America Great Again” focuses on the minority women he believes have changed America’s face. America is not a woman, it’s not black, and it’s not Latina. They are epithets. According to Trump, these women fuel some form of xenophobia and make white voters anxious when they should be free (Rascoe, 2020). The choice of the word “squad” depicts hatred and a high degree of racism. It is a manifestation of a group of troublemakers who have developed a hatred for the United States
Trump did not leave the racist remarks to have a general perspective but singled out members of the “squad.” He had specific attacks on each of them depending on their origin and ethnic orientation. The act was despite them being congresswomen besides being American citizens. He failed to acknowledge their positions and was keen to focus on racism and negative bias toward women. These actions portray his strong and unguaranteed opinion of women. Table 2 illustrated Trump’s negative comments, with rarely anything positive on the four parties who form the “squad.”
Table 2: Phrases in trumps tweets about each of the four members of the “squad” (adopted from Rascoe, 2020)
Members of the “Squad”
Rashida Tlaib (26)
Ilhan Omar (29)
Ayanna Pressley (18)
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) (22)
Phrases in Trump’s tweets
hate Israel 4
I don’t buy Rep. Tlaib’s tears
horrible and highly insensitive
hates Israel and all Jewish people
hate Israel 4
out of control
America hating anti-semite
terrible comments concerning Israel
No individual tweets about Ayanna Pressley
disdain for Israel
weak & insecure people
they hate our own country
forever wedded to the Democrat party
AOC and this crowd are a bunch of Communists
Specifically, Trump has targeted Omar through his tweets from time to time (no less than twenty-nine times), including singling her out and posting “squad”-related tweets. Compared with this, Ocasio-Cortez has been the subject of his tweets twenty-two times. His latest posts on the social networking site have aimed to take advantage of the tension embedded in the aforementioned examples of Israel’s standing in the lives of the Jews of America to start a partisan wedge problem. To this end, Trump has pushed Israelism’s suppositions to the extreme (Rascoe, 2020). The claim that the Jewish community is “disloyal” due to its failure to support Israel conforms to Israel’s contention that the Jews in America have taken Israel’s defense to the level of a key community political commitment. Tlaib and Omar’s supposed hatred for the Jewish community keeps alive the claim that anti-Semitic motivations underscore progressive assaults on Israel’s legitimacy.
Thus, Trump reasons that the Jews in America who are loyal to Israel’s state and their commitments to their community ought to be Republican supporters rather than Democrats. Hence, his claims of Israelism for protecting Israel have astonishedly created a novel variant of an ancient anti-Semitic concept. As has frequently occurred in anti-Semitism’s history, in my opinion, the Jewish community has, yet again, been accused of its perceived role as a leader on the political continuum’s extremities. On the one hand, they may face the criticism of progressive individuals for being ‘disloyal’ citizens of the U.S. who support Israel instead of their American democratic political priorities. On the other hand, stands Trump and co. who attack them for supporting the Democratic Party against their so-called monolithic shared support for the Israeli state.
The sole women who face more unfavorable tweets than squad members include top-ranking Democrats like Financial Services chairperson Maxine Waters and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (Rascoe, 2020).
Nancy Pelosi (80)
Maxine Waters (10)
Trump’s tweet phrases
all such a lie
playing their games
getting nothing done (2)
getting zero work done
behaved so irrationally
gone so far to the left
all they do is investigate
petrified of the “lefties.”
please explain to Nancy Pelosi
passed no meaningful legislation
a disgrace to herself and her family
clean up streets of San Francisco; they are disgusting
district in San Francisco […] is not even recognizable lately
will never be able to see or understand the great promise of our country
most corrupt (2)
ranting and raving
leader of the Democrat party
will make America weak again
extraordinarily low I.Q. person
the unhinged face of the Democrat party
Trump has tweeted that the “squad” member Pelosi marks the Democratic political party’s face; further, Rep. Maxine Waters is of African American descent. The noteworthy point is that Trump has never called any male White American politician his rival party’s face. When he targets an opponent through his tweets, his attacks differ greatly in nature based on the critic.
3.1. Women are Weak, Lacking in Strength and Ability, Incompetent and ‘Mentally Unstable’
The above notion is Trump’s most commonly-banked-on argument when employing sexist language directed at women. The above cluster of posts conveys that females lack competence, cognitive, and physical capabilities and are weak. The majority of his tweets under this class label females as “neurotic,” “very dumb,” “crazy,” with the tendency of having “mental breakdown(s),” thereby being psychologically unstable (Scotto di Carlo, 2020). The above traits have caused him to portray females as a “disgrace” and “nothing but problems.” A woman is a weak being who “will never make it” about her professional life. Their “bad judgment” would prove to “be a disaster” for America.
A considerable share of his tweets under this class underlines females as ‘weak’: one particular target is Hillary Clinton, who has been described as utterly lacking in “strength or stamina” and, hence, no competent enough to serve in the capacity of the U.S. president. Hillary’s “bad judgment and temperament” would prove “dangerous” for America. “ISIS, China, Russia, and all would love for her to be president” as she lacks the “strength” to stand up against them.
Furthermore, most female Trump targets in his Twitter posts have been described as incapable in some or other way. He describes them using the following phrases: they possess “low I.Q.” and “zero natural talent,” are “dopey,” “dumb as a rock,” “loser(s),” and “highly overrated” individuals who will end up making “America Weak Again” (Scotto di Carlo, 2020). Trump’s claims employed against female policymakers and news reporters embrace the notion that females are the weaker sex, incompetent, and incapable of making sound, independent decisions. According to Trump, ever driven by hormones or susceptible to neurotic crises, they would fail to guide America or succeed in politics and news reporting.
3.2. Negative Evaluation of Women: Women as Dishonest Liars
Trump tweeted and then deleted a pictorial post depicting Hillary Clinton before a Jewish Star of David stating “Most Corrupt Candidate Ever!” and a heap of money. This tweet exhibited blatant anti-Jewish imagery, though Trump claimed it wasn’t a Star of David but rather a sheriff’s badge; he further commented that the post ought not to have been taken down. He also scorned Elizabeth Warren’s campaign for president. In 2019, he called her “Pocahontas” in one of his tweets and further added, “See you on the campaign TRAIL, Liz!” â€“ apparently referring to the horrendous Trail of Tears. This gruesome nineteenth-century ethnic cleansing saw the forced relocation and death of thousands of Native Americans.
Trump claims females have a two-faced nature. Besides lacking independence and strength, they are criticized for being hypocrites and worse than males â€“ this has been the subject of every single tweet targeting Hillary Clinton: out of 567 posts in the corpus, a total of 299 call her “crooked.” Furthermore, she is described as “colluded” and “corrupt,” “100% owned by her donors”, a “Guilty [candidate and thus she] cannot run,” and “bought and paid for by Wall Street, lobbyists, and special interests, [and that] will sell our country down the tubes!”
Additionally, Hillary and her fellow female politicians have frequently been accused of lying. Hillary has, in particular, been dubbed an “A PATHOLOGICAL LIAR” (capitalized), “disloyal,” a “hypocrite,” and, hence, “unfit to be president” (Scotto di Carlo, 2020). Women news reporters have been similarly criticized as taking to “fraudulent editing” and “mak[ing] up things that [he] never said.”
3.3. Semantic Derogation/Disparagement of Women
Trump’s frequent misogynistic, sexist comments have relied on negative lexicalization. Females have been described using a variety of negative labels like “disgusting,” “sneaky,” “clown[s],” “ill-fit,” and “terrible,” among other things.
A particular target of such scorn has been Omarosa Manigault, Trump’s erstwhile political aid, who has frequently been labeled a “dog.” While the dog is a man’s best friend and a classic example of a good pet, it has negative connotations if used to describe a woman and hints at promiscuity and unattractiveness (Scotto di Carlo, 2020). The female dog has been described generically and linguistically using the word ‘bitchâ€™ and is one of the most commonly used swearwords used on women to indicate bossiness, maliciousness, and spitefulness.
Trump’s remarks demean females by making comparisons with disgusting animals; clearly, he expresses his personal view that females are disgusting and more beast than human.
3.4. Vulgarity When Speaking About Women
A highly controversial tweet by Trump goes thus “@megynkelly The Bimbo Back in Town. I Hope Not for Long” (August 25), referring to a previous interview in which he made sexist remarks targeted at Megyn Kelly:
She’s a lightweight, and, you know, she came out there reading her little script and trying to be tough and be sharp. And when you meet her, you realize she’s not very tough, and she’s not very sharp [â€¦]. She gets out there, and she starts asking me all sorts of ridiculous questions, and you could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of herâ€¦ whereverâ€¦Kelly was a bimbo.
Trump’s aforementioned remark came a day following the foremost Republican debate in which he was challenged by Kelly using several questions. He was referring to the female menstrual cycle. This tweet witnesses Trump overtly relying on negative lexicalization for discrediting her Kelly by labeling her a ‘bimbo’ â€“ a word having sexual connotations and defined as a good-looking female without intelligence (Scotto di Carlo, 2020).
The corpus mentions other sexualized negative lexicalizations like “disgusting (check out sex tape and past)” and “a con,” about Alicia Machado, a former Miss Universe.
3.5. Ideological strategies and stances taken
Racist and sexist practices and principles are evident in the posts Trump posts on females (Darweesh & Abdullah, 2016). These include various rhetorical and lexical plans summed up as follows:
Â· Females are weak, incapable, ‘mentally unstable,’ and inefficient, and have no strength
Â· Females lack independence
Â· Females must be judged according to their looks and not their personality of I.Q.
Â· Females lie, are dishonest, and are worse than males
Â· Females are mere possessions
Â· Females are disgusting animals
Â· Females may be described using vulgar terminology.
The above points underscore that Trump maintains a very patriarchal attitude towards females, believing in their objectification and denigration. In his opinion, females are mentally unstable, weak, and inefficient, but also dangerous and dishonest liars, so they cannot attain and maintain major societal and political roles.
Regarding Mill’s (2008) difference between hidden and obvious kinds of sexism, Trump’s Twitter posts frequently express his sexist beliefs quite obviously. He employs a blend of typically-sexualized slurs (such as ‘dog,’ ‘neurotic,’ ‘very dumb,’ etc.), catch-words (such as ‘dangerous,’ ‘dopey,’ ‘loser,’ etc.), and humor (such as ‘Pocahontas,’ ‘snowman (woman),’ etc.) for negatively representing his female opponents as well as the overall female community. In line with the hegemonic masculinity “model,” he echoes the principles of physical strength ingrained in American culture, which his tweets possibly pleasing only those who give precedence to these principles, to ‘pathos’ more than ‘logos.’
A point to bear in mind here is that tweets occur in a public context, and, therefore, his speech differs from non-mediatized contexts like his Access Hollywood tape in which he was rather candid on what he thinks and believes. His posts on Twitter are driven by his underlying goals of acquiring and maintaining his consent and status as President. Hence, his posts aren’t as straight-forward as one may believe since he possibly fears his words may adversely impact his presidential campaign.
Nevertheless, his language propagates a patriarchal social hierarchy wherein females are downgraded to subservient positions, away from major social and political roles.
Of course, there is a need for additional investigation. Additional research may help shed light on whether or not he utilizes examples of benevolent sexism or sexism representing assessments of gender which are, on the surface, subjectively positive (i.e., subjective to assessing individuals), but in truth prove detrimental to individuals and to overall gender equality (for instance, the notion that females require the protection of males on account of their being weak, and must follow ‘traditional’ gender roles) (Scotto di Carlo, 2020). The theory is, his employment of benevolence, in reality, represents the opposite face of the very same coin: a patronizing tone and vocabulary further confirm his notion of females as being the inferior, weaker sex.
Trump expresses an ideological position indicating males are superior to females, an ideology that has, perhaps, spread among his followers. Additionally, his political power indicates how such principles are dangerously close to being embedded in society and language.
In the capacity of President and presidential candidate, several more racist remarks have been made by Trump. Also, he has repetitively made explicit racist comments in both these capacities. In the course of this examination and as has been manifested in its outcomes, the denial and construction of racism have been expressed using numerous linguistic mechanisms represented in the following four separate discursive positive self-representation approaches and negative other-representation tactics: referential, denial, predication, and argumentation strategies. Considering the study’s research question, these approaches for constructing and denying racism in Trump’s tweets were utilized as follows: Concerning referential approaches, Trump relied on multiple references for addressing the outgroup and ingroup. About the former, he depicted migrants, Muslims, Mexicans, and Syrians as enemies who symbolize threat and danger and are described using negationyms and criminonyms; about the latter, social players were collectivized for standing up against the supposed dangers and threats that came with Middle-Eastern and South American migrants. When it came to prediction strategies concentrating on target person/group assessment, the outgroup’s condemnatory assessment prevailed over the ingroup’s appreciation. About argumentation strategies that are linguistic tools offering a cause-effect relationship with potential action and manifestation, the outcomes were explained using a chain of argument/conclusion principles reinforcing Trump’s racist rhetoric for supporting his policies and views and engaging devotion to his campaign. His final approach, denial, denotes the act of deliberately denying actions, sayings, or events. The outcomes and interpretation reveal that he flagrantly adopts multiple approaches for denying racism using diverse approaches and counter-claims of racism as reversal and discrediting of policymakers who aren’t as harsh as him against migrants. This approach proved effective, as he won the presidential race; Proud Boys and other white-nationalist groups have also utilized similar racism denial tactics for gaining popularity across America, promoting the chauvinistic philosophy of the ideal western civilization.
Linguistic sexism arises out of an implicit ideological belief in gender stereotypes. Sexist elements embedded in Trump’s language largely stem from encoding reality from the patriarchic standpoint. His assessment of females is reflective of his belief in male superiority and how this philosophy is hard to change and entrenched in the language. Through his inequilateral, biased statement, it is exemplified that “I don’t frankly have time for total political correctness. And to be honest with you, this country doesn’t have time either.” He conspicuously propagates his idea of inequality in the notion of masculine authority practiced on women. Trump has long been known for his sexist, critical, and rude remarks about females. He employs innumerable rhetorical and lexical tactics for underestimating females. The specter of metaphors, negative lexicalization, and slurs represent the most widely-adopted tactic in his demeaning statements regarding females.
“Kelly Oxford sexual assault stories: Writer starts social media movement of women sharing sexual assault stories.” (2016, October). CBS News. Retrieved from http://www.cbsnews.com/news/kelly-oxford-starts-social-media-movement-of-women-sharing-sexual-assault-stories/
Anderson, R. (2016, September 25). A portrait of violence emerges of suspect in the Washington state mall killings. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from https://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-washington-shooting-20160925-snap-story.html
Bartlett, J., & Miller, C. (2012). The edge of violence: Towards telling the difference between violent and non-violent radicalization. Terrorism and Political Violence, 24(1), 1-21.
Bush, G.W. (2001, September 20). Transcript of President Bush’s address to a joint session of Congress on Thursday night, September 20, 2001. CNN. Retrieved from http://edition.cnn.com/2001/US/09/20/gen.bush.transcript/
Cap, P. (2010). Axiological aspects of proximation. Journal of Pragmatics, 42(2), 392-407.
Darweesh, A. D., & Abdullah, N. M. (2016). A Critical Discourse Analysis of Donald Trump’s Sexist Ideology. Journal of Education and Practice, 7(30), 87-95.
Featherman, C. (2015). Discourses of Ideology and Identity: Social Media and the Iranian Election Protests. Routledge.
Inwood, J. (2019). White supremacy, white counter-revolutionary politics, and the rise of Donald Trump. Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space, 37(4), 579-596.
Kallick, D.D., Roldan, C. & Mathema, S. (2016, December 13). Syrian Immigrants in the United States: A Receiving Community for Today’s refugees. Center for American Progress.
Kazzaz, M. (2020). Investigating the Syrian “Other” in Donald J. Trump’s Twitter Campaign Rhetoric. Open Linguistics, 6(1), 601-610.
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Rascoe, A. (2020, October 10). Twitter Analysis Shows How Trump Tweets Differently About Nonwhite Lawmakers. NPR. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/2019/10/10/768646968/as-summer-heated-up-trumps-tweets-about-non-white-democrats-intensified
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