Analysis of the Discourse and Rhetoric since September 11

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September 11, 2001. After terrorists hijacked four American airliners, toppling the World Trade Center in New York and damaging the Pentagon just outside Washington, rhetoric in various circles of the West among authors, theorists, and pundits centered around a number of interesting topics. The nature of evil has become a topic over which much debate and rhetoric has ensued. Some have used it as a means by which they can explain these actions, whereas others see it as an obstacle to a proper explanation. Even others see it as false, but a necessary falsehood for the war effort. Furthermore, the debate over if, or the extent to which, United States and Western foreign policy contributed to these attacks has also stirred passions on both sides of the argument.

My intention is to engage in an analysis of the discourse and rhetoric since September 11. Discourse can be defined as the production of knowledge through language (Hall 201). Certainly, events such as those that occurred on September 11 lead to a production of knowledge, or, at the least, attempts at understanding. Language is being used in very interesting ways by many people in an attempt to produce knowledge or understanding since September 11. I have selected both public figures and intellectuals for this discursive evaluation in order to make a sufficient analysis. There is a dichotomy between the context within which public figures such as the Reverend Billy Graham and President George W, Bush speak and academics or literary figures such as Stanley Fish, Edward Said, and Salman Rushdie. Part of this dichotomy, undoubtedly, exists because of the accountability of public figures to those they represent.

One of the first references to evil in the wake of t...

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Rushdie, Salman. “Fighting the Forces of Invisibility.” The Washington Post. October 2, 2001: A25.

--------. “Yes, This Is About Islam.” The New York Times. 2 November 2001. 12 December 2001 <>.

Said, Edward. “Islam and the West are inadequate banners.” The Observer. 16 September 2001. 12 December 2001. <,1442,576703,00.html>.

---------. “The Clash of Ignorance.” The Nation. 22 October 2001. 12 December 2001 <>.

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