At first there were no words to describe the horror of September 11, only a national hush that expressed the sudden absence of so many innocent lives. Then the floodgates opened: eyewitness accounts, expert analyses, bitter denunciations, tributes to fallen heroes, patriotic exhortations, eulogies, spin. Almost immediately, the Bush Administration and the media launched rhetorical campaigns aimed at manufacturing support for the 'War on Terror'. The first book to explore the full impact of 9/11 on America's psyche, War of Words takes a critical look at the strategic use of language to create a series of national transformations: A terrorist attack became an 'act of war', requiring commensurate response. The President, until then the butt of national jokes, ascended to Commander in Chief, while the leader of the city we love to hate became 'America's mayor'. TV ads for cars and clothing featured flags and firefighters, transforming consumerism into patriotism. With a keen ear for the hidden messages in our national stories, Sandra Silberstein unearths the dark side of this patriotic rhetoric, including the attacks on those who question U.S. policy and the denunciation of liberal intellectuals by the conservative American Council of Trustees and Alumni.
Timely and penetrating, War of Words shows how the stories we told after the attacks fashioned a post-9/11 American identity and reinscribed our national beliefs. * probes the stories we told after the attack for clues about our changing national character * documents the startling offenses against civil liberties in the post-9/11 climate * shows how language and sentimental appeals were manipulated to transform a national tragedy into a consumer opportunity.
Sandra Silberstein is a leading name in applied linguistics, and Professor of English at the University of Washington, Seattle. She is widely published, and has written articles on a number of politically sensitive topics, including the OJ Simpson trial, the Gulf War, AIDS and the Inauguration of George Bush.