The Denial of Racism and Policy Justification in the American politics

Taher Ben Khalifa


This paper deals with the critical study of the way the denial of racism works in political discourse to serve for the justification of public policies. To study this issue two texts are selected for analysis. These are the republican Jeb Bush’s interview on CNN in November the 15th 2016 and the democrat Barack Obama’s press conference speech in the G-20 summit in November the 16th 2016 in Antalya, Turkey. The analysis of these two texts is carried within the framework of a multidisciplinary theoretical approach ranging from semantics, syntax, pragmatics, argumentation theories, rhetoric, and context. This multi-dimensional approach finds its ground within the CDA framework of discourse and language study. The methodology used for the analysis of the selected texts consists of two phases. The first phase is based on the collection of data via the scrutiny of the texts phrase by phrase, clause by clause, sentence by sentence, and even paragraph by paragraph tracing the discursive strategies of actor description, authority, burden, consensus, empathy, fallacies, lexicalization, normative expressions, reasonableness, populism, and victimization determined in Van Dijk (2000). The second phase is devoted to the establishment of relations between the employed strategies to determine how they serve for the denial of racism, the justification of the speakers’ policies, and the extent to which they can reflect political continuity. The results showed that the denial of racism at various levels of discourse structure is justified and public policies are determined and justified through both the denial of racism and the political manipulation of the war on terror. Thus, the results of the analysis highlighted the relation between the concepts of policy (migration), denial of racism, and terrorism. These parameters form a triangulation we need to understand how terrorism is used in connection with the denial of racism to justify public policies.



denial of racism, migration, terrorism, policy justification, political continuity, ideologies, discourse structure.

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