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Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)



First Advisor

Jon F. Schamber

First Committee Member

Kenneth Day

Second Committee Member

R. Alan Ray


This study focuses on the rhetoric of racial politics and the ideology of exclusion it produces. This study analyzes the political rhetoric constructed by David Duke, white supremacist, disavowed neo-Nazi, Ku Klux Klan member, and former Louisiana State Representative. The topics of affirmative action, reverse discrimination, immigration, and welfare were chosen for analysis. Using ideological criticism, this study reveals the role Duke pays in America's increasingly exclusionary political environment.

Specifically, this study uses the concepts employed by Louisa Martin Rojo in exploring the rhetorical process of demonization which is used to turn someone or something into an enemy. The process needed to demonize an enemy involves two rhetorical strategies: division and rejection. Division establishes the opposing categories in the conflict, manifesting itself as an arguments between "us verses them" or "good verses evil." Rejection further demonizes the enemy by rhetorically marginalizing, segregating, or creating a negative image about them.

Through his rhetoric, Duke strives to provoke feelings of resentment by utilizing demonization to reject and divide whites from minorities. In his rhetoric, Duke excludes people of color from society by portraying affirmative action as minority special privilege, reverse discrimination as white exclusion, welfare as a bastion of illegitimacy, and immigration as the downfall of American culture. Attempting to exclude minorities from society, Duke moves beyond Rojo's concept of demonization and uses scapegoating to blame minorities for America's social ills. By using people of color as a scapegoat, Duke effectively excludes them from participating in the debate over social concerns.



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