Chaos & Anarchy: A Look at Trump’s Tweeting

chaos

 

Recently, Trump posted the following tweet:

trrump

I feel I need to break this down because I find it a very harmful text, and as the writer is the President of the US, this discourse has a huge readership and influence.

Firstly, the Democratic Party is associated with MS-13, an international criminal gang that originated in Los Angeles, California, in the 1980’s. The gang spread to other parts of the continental United States, Canada, Mexico, and Central America, and is active in urban and suburban areas. Most members are of Central American origin.

I believe that associating the Democrats with this street gang is an utter fallacy; there is no basis for such a claim, but if it is continually made, as it is by this President, the people will start to believe it. Just because the previous President didn’t implement harsh immigration policies, or generate racist rhetoric towards refugees and immigrants, no argument can be made stating that they support such groups as MS-13. An utter fallacy!

Then we have the phrase ‘run wild‘.

As can be seen from the COCA corpus, many things run wild:

run wild

Something that is described as running wild could be understood as being without control. As that the case of US cities these days? Have they been taken over by Latin American gangs who are beyond the jurisdiction of US law enforcement? It appears that this may be somewhat of a hyperbolic statement.

Then we have the phrase ‘our communities‘ . Firstly, our, who does the President define as ‘we’ and ‘them’ . Due to the decisive rhetoric that this man produces, I can only imagine that there are many individuals who feel excluded from this man’s in-group. Then we have the word community, a social group that have something in common, who have something that is shared, so obviously using this word has a meaning beyond the word city. The writer is describing those who share something with him, who have something in common with him, but as I said previously, this man has caused great divisions. Who belongs to this in-group? Who is a member of ‘our communities’?

‘let drugs pour into our cities’

The Democrats are being accused of this? Is that because of that fallacious claim that they support MS_13, which I’m quite sure they don’t, or is it because they didn’t implement harsh immigration policies when they were in power? I believe it’s more a case of trying to associate illegal drugs with immigrants and refugees. Again, if you repeat an argument often enough, and there are enough people who hear you, eventually the message becomes a part of public belief, regardless of how baseless the statement is.

take jobs away and benefits away from hardworking Americans’

This argument has been used by the far-right for such a long time! Immigrant and refugees will take away ‘our’ jobs. But isn’t it so often the case that they take low-paying, difficult jobs that nobody else wants. Do refugees take away benefits from the indigenous people, are immigrants unable to pay taxes and contribute in any positive way to there new country? I would argue, obviously not, but this claim is continually made to generate fear in the local population. Fear of the other, fear of the outsider, fear and distrust of those who are different to us.

‘hardworking Americans’

Yes, I’m quite sure that many Americans are very hardworking people, but by using this phrase, perhaps the writer is implying, or the reader may infer, that anyone who is an outsider, anyone who does not belong to ‘our communities’, is not a hardworking person, and will only be a burden to society. Is that the case? Is a person with a different language, culture, or background unable to contribute to a society? I don’t think so.

Democrats want anarchy … and chaos

Do they?!

I don’t see how that would be beneficial to anyone, let alone to a political party.

And, sorry for the cliche, but words matter! When you look at the word anarchy, it has powerful negative collocates:

anarchy

To say that someone, or a group encourages anarchy, has significance.

Republicans want LAW, ORDER, and JUSTICE

But don’t most people want to live in a safe secure environment, free from tyranny and violence. It isn’t something exclusive to one particular political party!

Trump uses Twitter to disseminate his message. He has over 53 million followers. His messages have a global reach. Some of them, I find extremely harmful!

Advertisements

An Analysis of a Corpus of Trump’s Tweets

Capture

 

In this post, I will quickly look at a corpus of almost 2,000 of Trump’s tweets which were collected during the presidential campaign period.

Firstly, a look at word frequency. Below is the list of the ten most frequently used words and the number of times they appear in the corpus:

#1 I 587

#2 you 504

#3 Trump 455

#4 thank 325

# 5 great 284

#6 Hillary 274

#7 me 192

#8 crooked 164

#9 Clinton 149

#10 people 139

I find it interesting that there are so many references to Hillary Clinton, as well as the adjective crooked.  Obviously, there’s a high level of preoccupation with his presidential opponent and the frequent labeling of her as crooked. But firstly, I want to have a look at how the word is used.

Below is a collocation network image of and me ordered by MI scores of 3.0 or above:

i

 

The strongest collocates of are as follows:

Capture

The most frequent collocate of is am, so it would be interesting to look at the concordance lines of I am.

Capture

It’s interesting that many of the tweets do not discuss policies or agenda to improve the country, but are focused on the exposure he is receiving in mainstream media. He also declares that he is self-funding his election campaign:

As many of the tweets mention Hillary Clinton, it is necessary to look at what is being said.

Obviously, there is a lot of negativity. This can be seen by looking at the collocates of Hillary:

Capture

Hillary collocates with: crooked, radical, fraud and wrong.

Capture

Again, by looking at the concordance lines, the level of negativity can be easily seen.

I suppose it’s no great surprise as the election campaign proved to be one in which there was very little constructive conversation or debate, and in his tweets, Trump can be seen as focusing on constructing others negatively.

Trump on Twitter & the Federal Shutdown

Trump uses Twitter to spread his rhetoric. As the following visualizations demonstrate, he has created a significant network.

visual

The above is a visualization of tweets mentioning Trump.

visual2

The above visualization is a network of who replies to whom related to Trump

Today, the US federal services have been shutdown because the Senate failed to pass a budget to fund the federal government.

I thought it would be interesting to look at one of Trump’s tweets, which he wrote when it became apparent that there would be no last minute deal with the Democrats.

Capture

As can be seen, Trump has a huge following on Twitter. This message was resent over 25,000 times and over 49,000 people wrote a comment to this massage, therefore, it can be seen that when he uses Twitter, his texts are widely published and are read by a large audience, although when reading the comments, it is quickly understood that many of those readers are opposed to his policies and ideology.

Firstly, ‘not looking good’, a note of pessimism as the US government is about to go into lock down, even though the Republicans have a majority in both houses. However, the two political parties were not able to come to a compromise over the Federal budget.

What are the consequences of this? According to Trump, there will be two major consequences: the military will suffer, and security will be jeopardized on the US/Mexico border. (It’s interesting the the northern border is not mentioned, not are ports or airports, just the southern border.)

“our great Military’

The military, which is capitalized for emphasis, is described as great, thereby clearly demonstrating his stance towards the armed forces. The military is constructed as our  military. By doing so, the military is assigned to a social group. If you have an affinity with the armed forces, then you may be considered a member of this social in-group, if not, them you you be part of the out-group, one of them, an outsider.

‘Safety & Security on the very dangerous Southern Border’

The Federal shutdown is going to threat the way of lives of the American people as safety and security is now going to be at risk, the topoi of threat and danger is used. It’s interesting that this threat is going to take place on the southern border, which is described as dangerous, and not elsewhere. Why is this border deemed as dangerous? This appears to be a continuation of the anti-immigration/racist rhetoric which has been prevalent throughout the presidency, immigrants from Mexico, Central America and Latin America are constructed as a danger and a threat to American society. Therefore, the Federal shutdown is another opportunity to expound an anti-immigration ideology. If the border is described as being very dangerous, then this also implies further implies that those on the other side of the border, the non-Americans, are also very dangerous. (In conversations earlier in the week, Trump used the ‘shithole’ to describe certain countries, but seemed quite open to Norwegian immigrants, thus appearing to support a white-European immigration in favor of non-white immigrants, who are implied to be a danger. 

The text continues by stating that it is the fault of the Democrats that a compromise was not reached. According to Trump, this was done to divert attention away from the successes of the current administration in regard to the tax cuts and the improvement of the economy. These are both contentious claims; it was widely understood that the tax cuts benefited the wealthy, and the upward direction of the economy had began before this president took office. Regardless of the opinions of the tax cuts, or the health of the economy, the idea that the Democrats would attempt to close Federal services to prevent Trump from receiving applause appears to be, how could I put it ….. fake news!

 

The Harm of Words: The Escalation of Discrimination & Hate Speech

“Together with all its material supports, authoritatively saying someone is inferior is largely how structures of status and differential treatment are demarcated and actualized. Words and images are how people are placed in hierarchies, how said stratification is made to seem inevitable and right, how feelings of inferiority and superiority are engendered, and how indifference to violence against those on the bottom is rationalized and normalized.”

Catherine Mackinnon (1993: 31)

On July, 26, Trump made the following three tweets stating that transgender individuals would not be allowed to serve in the US military.

Capture

This prompted Breitbart News to write the following article:

Capture

The article was brief, stating that former Defense Secretary Ash Carter had issued an order that allowed transgender troops to serve openly and undergo gender reassignment surgery and formally change their gender in Pentagon systems. It continued by stating that new Defense Secretary Jim Mattis had decided to delay that decision, giving the military service chiefs another six months to review whether allowing transgender people to enlist would affect the “readiness and lethality” of the force.  The article goes on to state:

“After consulting with the service chiefs and secretaries, I have determined that it is necessary to defer the start of accessions for six months,” he said in a memo obtained by The Associated Press. “We will use this additional time to evaluate more carefully the impact of such accessions on readiness and lethality.”

Trump’s decision also comes after Mattis issued a series of other memos directing that decisions be based on whether it makes the military more lethal and is a good use of Pentagon funds.

This led to almost 14,000 comments made by Breitbart News readers, many of them expressed prejudiced ideology which could be labelled as hate speech.

I don’t wish to expose the identity of the writers, but here are some examples:

Capture

Capture

Capture

I could go on, but these three examples demonstrate how the quote at the beginning of the article is applicable in this situation. Trump, as President of the US, makes a statement to exclude a minority group, and by doing so, constructs them as inferior and places them on a lower level of a social hierarchy. When a person in such an position of authority makes such a statement, it encourages others, in this case many Breitbart News readers, to post texts on a mainstream news media source, which escalate and intensify the prejudice and hatred against the minority group.

By making the tweets concerning transgender people, Trump has given the green light to prejudiced individuals to write texts of hatred toward this group of people, which may in turn influence readers of such texts to create more division and prejudice in society.

 

MacKinnon, Catherine. 1993. Only Words. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press

Do Americans use bad language the most? … It appears so!!

Capture

I’m interested in looking at taboo language usage in different Englishes from around the world.

For this analysis, I’m going to use the GloWbE corpus, which can be found at:

http://corpus.byu.edu/coca/

The corpus of Global Web-based English contains about 1.9 billion words from texts from twenty different English-speaking countries. The corpus allows you to carry out comparisons between different varieties of English from around the world.

Taboo language refers to words or phrases that are generally considered inappropriate in certain contexts.  In every society, there are things which are believed to be inappropriate if spoken or written in public domains. I want to look at a variety of taboo language in differing cultural settings from around the world. People from different cultural backgrounds use language in unique ways.

Taboo language can be divided into various categories, but at the moment, I’ll look at three:

  1. Words that are concerned with sex and excretion, such as fuck, shit and bugger.
  2. Words that are related to religion, such as Christ and Jesus.
  3. Words that are related to animals such as bitch and cow.

Firstly, I want to look at the word fuck. This word can be used in many forms and functions, but for now I’ll just focus on the single word fuck.  I’ll use the GloWbE data to look at frequencies of this usage in different countries.

Capture

The chart shows the frequency of usage, but as each corpus is of a different size, it’s also important to look at the words per million figure. From the chart it can be seen that the United States, Great Britain and Jamaica have the greatest frequency and Ghana, Bangladesh and Pakistan the least.

Next, I’ll look at taboo words related to religion. Of the many possible words and phrases, I’ll look at the phrase Oh, Christ!

Capture

This is quite interesting. The United States, which had the highest usage of fuck, has a much lower usage of this blasphemous taboo phrase in comparison to Great Britain, Ireland and Australia. Quite a few countries have no examples of this phrase, the majority of which are countries without a strong Christian culture, so this may be expected.

Next I’ll show the data of bitch:

Capture

So again, the United States appears to use this phrase the most frequently. What’s interesting is that Singapore and the Philippines have a high frequency usage of this word. Again, Ghana, Bangladesh and Pakistan have the lowest levels of frequency/million usage.

The last word I’ll look at to try to show a pattern in taboo word usage is shit.

Capture

So again, American appear to have the greatest frequency of this taboo word followed by Australia and Great Britain. The countries with the smallest frequencies of this are Pakistan and Bangladesh.

The data appears to be quite clear. Taboo language usage is much more prevalent in the United States, and much less so in countries such as Pakistan and Bangladesh. What’s the significance of this? Does is mean that American’s are the rudest people on the planet and Bangladeshis and Pakistanis the most polite? Well, probably not! I would argue that it is more related to notions of politeness / impoliteness and possibly the value has towards face and the preservation of face for oneself and others.

I did find it interesting though that Americans have the highest usage of all taboo words that I looked at until blasphemous taboo words were search, which demonstrates how culture is very closely related to politeness / impoliteness.

Trump: Undocumented Immigrants are Animals who Deserved to be Roughed Up

Capture

In a speech to law enforcement officials, Trump made a clear statement that unauthorized immigrants are subhumans, and that they should be treated accordingly.

The villains of Trump’s speech were the transnational criminal gang MS-13, which started in California but has taken root in El Salvador. Trump described MS-13 members as “animals” who “have transformed peaceful parks and beautiful, quiet neighborhoods into bloodstained killing fields.”

However, the speech then moved on to immigrants throughout the US, blurring the lines of how has been labelled ‘an animal’.

He then went on to state:

One by one, we’re liberating our American towns.  Can you believe that I’m saying that?  I’m talking about liberating our towns.  This is like I’d see in a movie:  They’re liberating the town, like in the old Wild West, right?  We’re liberating our towns.  I never thought I’d be standing up here talking about liberating the towns on Long Island where I grew up, but that’s what you’re doing.”

He talks of liberating towns, as if the country was under siege or occupation. In the COCA it can be seen that liberating collocates with war and violence.

Capture

Thus, America is under a state of war, a continuous war that he likens to the Wild West.

And then, the President of the United States used his platform to incite violence, and encouraged law enforcement official to ‘rough up’ undocumented immigrants who had been detained.

“Now, we’re getting them out anyway, but we’d like to get them out a lot faster.  And when you see these towns and when you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon — you just see them thrown in, rough — I said, please don’t be too nice.  Like when you guys put somebody in the car and you’re protecting their head, you know, the way you put their hand over?  Like, don’t hit their head and they’ve just killed somebody — don’t hit their head.  I said, you can take the hand away, okay? ”

Trump rambles and rarely keeps to a script. At times he refers to gang members then switches to undocumented immigrants. However, he blurs the lines and his rhetoric is inflammatory. Some of his listeners will focus on aspects of his speech which refers to non-whites as animals, as violent and dangerous, of the need to liberate towns and cities of these people.

By quickly looking at the collocates of ‘they’, is can be seen how Trump constructs the out-group.

they

Collocates of ‘they’ include:

stab, kidnap, machete, butcher, knives, rob, beat, trafficking,  fight, fought, stomp, knives, exhort, slash, clubs.

 

Words have consequences.

 

The Absence of Global Warming in Trump’s Rhetoric

Capture6

Today the British government announced that they plan to stop the sale of petrol and diesel cars in the UK by the the year 2040. That’s great news for the environment! This got me thinking about how trump responds to the notion of global warming, and what is his response. I used a small corpus of speeches by Trump in which he focused on energy.

My first concordance search was global warming. Start with the obvious!

Zero! In a corpus of 9,000 words, global warming isn’t mentioned once. It doesn’t exist, or at least, he’s not talking about it.

Then I thought I could look at clean,  perhaps he had discussed the issue of clean energy in his speeches. I found that the word clean appears 8 times, 5 of them collocate with coal; he discusses clean coal, but never clean energy.

Capture10

So, as far as he is concerned, clean energy is not an issue, although he does appear to support clean coal, clean, beautiful coal, if such a thing exists!

As a next step, I thought I would search for renewable , perhaps he would discuss renewable energy, wind, solar, hydro power etc. There were two examples:

Capture11.PNG

Capture12.PNG

In the first example, he appears to be arguing that if renewable energy is used as an energy source then a direct consequence would be the lose of jobs and a lowering in the quality of life if the US. In the second example, he is promoting nuclear power as clean, renewable and emission-free. I believe that history tells us differently in that instance.

The fact is that when Trump discusses energy, there is no mention of global warming, renewable energy sources of climate change. He is fully focused on increasing the extraction of coal oil and gas, which will be disastrous for the environment. Just by looking at some of his tweets, this is clearly seen:

Capture4

 

And so I’ll end this with a collocational network of goal, gas & oil. And id Trump gets his way, we’ll be seeing a lot more of those in the coming years, and less clean renewable energy.

 

coal gas oil