The Language and Imagery of Enmity



The analytic distinctions between one kind of language of contention and another, between opponents, antagonists, and enemies, or between enemies above, below, or in parallel, do not normally survive in the practice of everyday politics, and accounts will be given of those who at one and the same time are demonised and described as enemies, whilst those whom less engaged consideration might consider opponents or antagonists will be accused of treason, and internal opponents stigmatised with the accusation of being in league with foreign enemies. The colours with which political actors characteristically embody their pronouncements are rich and varied, not neat and parsimonious. In January 2002 President George Bush of the United States spoke of an ‘an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world’ against which his country and its allies must struggle.2 The language of moral conflict was not, however, employed only on the American side. One of the chief referents of Bush’s depiction of terrorism was Osama Bin Laden, who had his own enmity narrative. The struggle of all good Muslims, Bin Laden had declared almost four years previously, was against ‘the tyrants and the aggressors and the enemies of Allah’. ‘The truth is that the whole Muslim world is the victim of international terrorism, engineered by America at the United Nations. We are a nation whose sacred symbols have been looted and whose wealth and resources have been plundered.’3


International Terrorism Moral Conflict Soviet Poster Sacred Symbol Jewish Minority 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Rodney Barker 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The London School of Economics and Political ScienceUK

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