ArticlePDF Available

Donald Trump’s “Political Incorrectness”: Neoliberalism as Frontstage Racism on Social Media


Abstract and Figures

President Donald Trump’s popularized “political incorrectness” has become a signifier allowing for backstage, or overt, racist sentiments to become steadily normalized as logical in the public frontstage of political discourse and social media. This normalization is possible under the guise of neoliberal truth telling. In the current context of neoliberalism, touting postracial “colorblindness” and achieved equalities, there is subsequent Trump-backed whitelash against “political correctness,” or an acknowledgement of inequality, in US public discourse. Highly racialized public issues such as immigration and relations between the US and Mexico lead to conversations in which “politically incorrect” white-centric racialized language is used, which has roots in the narratives of neoliberal postracialism and white superiority. Thematic analyses of popular media examples of Trump’s anti-political correctness (PC) rhetoric alongside qualitatively gathered positive social media responses to his “incorrectness” on Twitter exemplify how neoliberal “postracial” ideology can be used inversely to solidify feelings of white superiority and overt racist beliefs.The continued normalization of Trump’s version of “politically incorrect” ideology and language both on and offline can lead to increased racial violence and the continued creation of neoliberal policy with racially disparate impacts.
Content may be subject to copyright.
Creative Commons CC BY: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
( which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission
provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (
Social Media + Society
July-September 2017: 1 –10
© The Author(s) 2017
DOI: 10.1177/2056305117733226
In January 2016, CNN produced a three minute video about
first-time US voters who were “all-in for Donald Trump.” The
featured voters—three young, white men—appeared delighted
to have found a candidate who was not concerned with “politi-
cal correctness” and was unafraid to say what they believed
“ordinary citizens” in the United States think and say (CNN
Politics, 2016). Two months later, in early March 2016, for
twenty-four hours the public Snapchat mobile application
showed live videos from Trump rallies in which similar young
white men in Make America Great Again hats chanted “build
that wall” outside a rally. Later, supporters inside the rally
cheered in unison with Trump as he declared the wall should
be “ten feet higher!” White supporters in these videos seem
happy to dismiss the idea of being “politically correct,” which
according to Trump hinders progress and wastes valuable time
(Trump, 2016). These supporters are encouraged to believe
they are speaking objective truths about issues like immigra-
tion to the dismay of the “politically correct,” who either
intentionally obscure truth for political gain or have not yet
faced up to reality.
Donald Trump’s popularized version of “political incor-
rectness,” or supposed truth telling as per his supporters,
embodies Feagin’s (2014) white racial frame. The white racial
frame is a neoliberal worldview that “interprets and defends
white privileges and advantaged conditions as meritorious” and
accents white virtue in opposition to the inferiority and deficien-
cies of racially oppressed people of color (Feagin, 2014, p. 26).
I argue Trump’s use of the term “political incorrectness,” as situ-
ated in the neoliberal white racial frame, has become a signifier
in current politics as a means through which backstage, or overt,
racism and bigotry can be communicated with an illusion of
subtlety by white citizens in the public frontstage of social
media and political discourse. Goffman’s (1959) theory of
social interaction includes the frontstage, or public self, and the
backstage, or the private self. Picca and Feagin (2007) extend
this theory into the context of experiences with racism and racist
speech in the public, multicultural frontstage and the private,
ethnically homogenous backstage. In this article, I explore
733226SMSXXX10.1177/2056305117733226Social Media + Society X(X)Gantt Shafer
Texas A&M University, USA
Corresponding Author:
Jessica Gantt Shafer, Texas A&M University, 4234 TAMU, College Station,
TX 77843, USA.
Donald Trump’s “Political Incorrectness”:
Neoliberalism as Frontstage Racism on
Social Media
Jessica Gantt Shafer
President Donald Trump’s popularized “political incorrectness” has become a signifier allowing for backstage, or overt, racist
sentiments to become steadily normalized as logical in the public frontstage of political discourse and social media. This
normalization is possible under the guise of neoliberal truth telling. In the current context of neoliberalism, touting postracial
“colorblindness” and achieved equalities, there is subsequent Trump-backed whitelash against “political correctness,” or an
acknowledgement of inequality, in US public discourse. Highly racialized public issues such as immigration and relations between
the US and Mexico lead to conversations in which “politically incorrect” white-centric racialized language is used, which has roots
in the narratives of neoliberal postracialism and white superiority. Thematic analyses of popular media examples of Trump’s
anti-political correctness (PC) rhetoric alongside qualitatively gathered positive social media responses to his “incorrectness” on
Twitter exemplify how neoliberal “postracial” ideology can be used inversely to solidify feelings of white superiority and overt
racist beliefs.The continued normalization of Trump’s version of “politically incorrect” ideology and language both on and offline
can lead to increased racial violence and the continued creation of neoliberal policy with racially disparate impacts.
political correctness, neoliberalism, race, Donald Trump, social media
2 Social Media + Society
how Goffman’s (1959) frontstage–backstage theory, and
Picca and Feagin’s (2007) use of this theory for interracial
interaction, can help to more deeply conceptualize the ways
in which racism is expressed on social media in a neoliberal
age of “whitelash” against “political correctness” and the
political establishment. This article adds to analyses of criti-
cal race theory and theories of racism as manifest in public
social media in Trump’s America.
Before winning the 2016 presidential election, Donald
Trump was known in popular culture as a business mogul
and star of the reality television show “The Apprentice,” in
which he coined the phrase “You’re fired!” to dispense of
unworthy competitors in a race to prove business know-
how and personal finesse. Situated in the same neoliberal,
egotistical frame of personal branding and self-made suc-
cess, Trump’s political messaging focused on the tradi-
tional conservative values of “economic nationalism,
controlled borders, and a foreign policy that puts American
interests first” (Shenk, 2016). Trump announced he was
running for president on July 16, 2015, in a speech in
which he referred to his alleged business success (“I will
be the greatest jobs president that God ever created”) and
declared the United States had become a “dumping ground
for everybody else’s problems” (TIME Staff, 2015). He
also infamously stated that when Mexico “sends” immi-
grants to the United States, they are “sending people that
have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems
with them. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing
crime. They’re rapists” (TIME Staff, 2015). While many
read these racist comments as tending toward extremism,
in an era ridden with fears of refugees, globalization, and
the mindset that fostered Great Britain’s “Brexit” from the
European Union, Trump was able to overcome criticism
and emerge in the conservative white sphere as a brash
straight-shooter, a neoliberal truth teller—the “politically
incorrect” candidate who was going to get things done.
Trump also emerged victorious as the 45th President of the
United States. As situated in a pro-white worldview, using
the term “political incorrectness” has become a signifier in
President Trump’s political context as a means through
which backstage, overt white racism, and bigotry can be
communicated in the public frontstage of social media as
supposed cathartic and, importantly, nonracially motivated
truth telling.
In this article, I first briefly address the long debate over
“political correctness” and whether promoting certain lan-
guage enables or restricts critical thinking and problem solv-
ing. I then review theories of the white racial frame,
colorblind racism, aversive racism, symbolic racism, and
front and backstage performances of racism as manifest in
contemporary US neoliberal discourse. Next, a thematic
analysis of examples of Trump’s rhetoric on “political incor-
rectness” and Twitter responses from supporters show how
Trump’s “political incorrectness” is reified by Twitter users,
which continues to normalize and reify the neoliberal and
racist ideology behind the “incorrectness.” Finally, the impli-
cations of the normalization of Trump’s neoliberal, racist
“incorrectness” are considered.
The Debate Over Political Correctness
Geoffrey Hughes (2010) notes “political correctness” entered
popular lexicon in the United States in the late 1980s due to
public debates on college campuses, with many politicians,
public intellectuals, and students weighing in on discussion
of the term (p. 3). A historical argument against “political
correctness” has been one of censorship and the notion that
social norms dictating what is considered respectful, inclu-
sive, and acceptable language would hinder productive dis-
cussion about difficult issues. Additionally, there is valid
concern over who gets to decide what counts as “politically
correct” language (Hughes, 2010). Due to these concerns,
popular news media have questioned the nature of “political
correctness.” Richard Bernstein (1990) wrote in The New
York Times about what some feared to be a “hidden radical
agenda in university curriculums” driven by a “liberal fas-
cism” that demanded changes such as adding minority group
histories and feminist studies to core curriculum.
Scholars have also joined the debate, including Peter
Drucker (1998) who asserted that, based on its history, politi-
cal correctness is a “purely totalitarian concept” meant to
suppress thinking not beneficial to the political aims of those
in power (p. 380). Trump, like many before him, agrees with
this notion. As is shown in the data, Trump often suggests
being “politically correct” is not an effort to use language
that includes different peoples and acknowledges systemic
injustices, but rather a weak bureaucratic sugarcoating of
inherent truths—pandering to populations for the sake of a
political career. Even the construction of the term “political
correctness” appears to assume a difference between being
correct, or speaking truth, and being politically correct, or
speaking for political gain. In this dichotomy, as interpreted
by politicians like Trump, it would seem there is little room
for inclusive and progressive ways of speaking; either you
speak the blunt (white) truth or you speak politically savvy
inclusive language.
However, Angela McRobbie (2009) argues the concern
over “political correctness” has grown far beyond any prog-
ress made by the notion itself. She describes how the grow-
ing concern over the idea of “political correctness” entails
“some sense in which quite reasonable and acceptable ideas
like gender equality, ideas which most people would now
find acceptable, have been somehow distorted, taken too far,
abused and turned into something monstrous, dogmatic, and
authoritarian” (McRobbie, 2009, p. 37).
While in theory political correctness can be wielded by
those in power to silence subversive thoughts, I agree with
McRobbie (2009) and posit the current interpretation of
political correctness propagated by Trump suggests that rea-
sonable ideas, like anti-racism and gender equality, have
Gantt Shafer 3
become dogmatic and monstrous. Trump’s championed
“political incorrectness” and pro-white truth telling is inher-
ently attached to practices of continued oppression and
silencing of already marginalized groups—those still with-
out power—under the guise of evening the score against the
PC police. Trump’s rhetoric denouncing “political correct-
ness” is not a new argument, but it has been massively popu-
larized in his campaign for the presidency.
Critical Race Theory and
Contemporary US Racial Discourse
In order to address the pro-white nature of Trump’s “political
incorrectness,” we must first account for contemporary
forms of racism that allow for white media users to prolifer-
ate his “politically incorrect” and racially charged rhetoric
without a sense of shame or fear of repercussions. The term
racism as used in this article is situated in Feagin’s (2014)
white racial frame. This frame encompasses a racist world-
view that diminishes other groups while reinforcing white-
ness as superior. The white racial frame is both individually
enacted, via interpersonal prejudice and racist thinking, and
systematically perpetuated, via societal exclusion from insti-
tutions such as equitable education or a fair housing market
(Feagin, 2014). A common individual enactment of the white
racial frame can be described through Kinder and Sears’
(1981) symbolic racism, or an “abstract, moralistic resent-
ment of blacks”—and, as a result over time, other minori-
ties—that correlates to assumed white superiority rather than
actual or perceived threats by minority groups (Kinder &
Sears, 1981, p. 427).
Because whites in the United States exist in a multiracial
society that has in recent decades suggested is it politically
and socially correct to inhibit overt racism in the public
sphere, Picca and Feagin’s (2007) study, which used stu-
dents’ private journal entries about their experiences with
racism, connects the white racial frame and symbolic racism
to the notions of back and frontstage presentation of the self
(Goffman, 1959). In his influential book, The Presentation of
Self in Everyday Life, Erving Goffman (1959) applied the
analogy of theatrical performance to social interaction, not-
ing how at the root of enacting the self in human interaction
is the fear of being embarrassed or performing in a way not
socially acceptable. Thus, applying Goffman’s (1959) per-
formance framework to the racialized US context, Picca and
Feagin (2007) differentiate the white performance in the
backstage, a space in which it appears only whites or “white-
minded” people are present, from the performance in the
frontstage, a space with “diverse and multiracial popula-
tions” as an audience (p. 16). Picca and Feagin (2007) found
the white racial frame is still regularly communicated bla-
tantly in the backstage among white peers, as white partici-
pants documented exchanges of racist jokes and epithets.
However, in the multiracial frontstage, whites typically
attempted to conceal racist beliefs and deferred to neoliberal
language. This neoliberal frame assumes an equitable postra-
cial society where all individuals are on equal societal foot-
ing and, thus, personally responsible for all that happens to
them. To attempt to display belief in and approval of this
postracial reality, there is a tendency to use “colorblind” lan-
guage in the public sphere.
Bonilla-Silva (2014) describes “colorblind racism” as
contemporary racism that continues despite an apparent
decrease in openly racist individuals. In a colorblind racist
society, there is a “historicization of the problem of racism”
by whites when interacting in the multiracial frontstage (Van
de Mieroop, 2016, p. 3). Rather than espousing outright and
outspoken bigotry, Gaertner and Dovidio (2005) describe
how whites often act as aversive racists—or progressive peo-
ple who “endorse fair and just treatment of all groups” but
also “unconsciously harbor feelings of uneasiness toward
blacks, and thus try to avoid interracial interaction” (p. 619).
When interracial interaction does occur, or frontstage inter-
action, aversive racists are primarily concerned with “avoid-
ing wrongdoing in interracial interactions” and tend toward
colorblind notions of racial equality to avoid acknowledging
systemic injustice (p. 619). This again alludes to Goffman’s
(1959) highlighted fear of embarrassing the self. In the white
backstage, racial slurs and jokes can be made. In the multira-
cial frontstage, though, these jokes are typically avoided and,
instead, colorblind language and rationale are used to under-
stand racial difference. This aligns with the supposed dichot-
omy of political correctness: actual truth talk in the backstage,
“political correctness” in the front.
So, if white people are averse to discussing race produc-
tively in the frontstage, yet comfortable making or allowing
racist slurs, jokes, and stereotypes in the backstage, possibly
only the threat of public shame keeps whites from openly
discussing and having their deeply held racial beliefs exposed
in the frontstage. Recent disavowals of “political correct-
ness” by figures like Trump, however, have emboldened
backstage racism to return to the frontstage. This “incorrect-
ness” is situated in a neoliberal belief that racial (and other)
equality has been achieved in the United States. Thus, if citi-
zens believe figures like Trump who suggest racialized
groups, like immigrants, are inferior in morality or achieve-
ment to the white majority, in a neoliberal reality these citi-
zens can also believe the discrepancies are based on the
racialized other’s individual and cultural inferiority to white-
ness. Bringing white racism to the forefront in this manner
dismisses continued structural inequality and normalizes rac-
ist thinking as logical. This bringing back of backstage racist
feelings to the frontstage is justified under the guise of being
honest and simply “telling it like it is,” which creates an illu-
sion of subtlety in expressing racist interpretations of issues.
An important aspect of Trump’s “political incorrect-
ness” is this subtleness with which many white supporters
believe they can communicate about race. To apply this
logic to the media examples from the beginning of this arti-
cle, the illusion of subtlety allows people to chant “ten feet
4 Social Media + Society
higher” rather than racist epithets about the Latinx1 popula-
tion and immigrants. According to Trump and other “politi-
cally incorrect” speakers and citizens, the wall needs to go
up and it needs to be higher—ten feet higher—in order to
protect (white) America. This “politically incorrect” way of
speaking positions a white racist and individualist truth as
communally validated in the frontstage. The audience is not
necessarily cheering against Mexicans, but rather for bor-
der security.
In Trump’s damning of “political correctness,” it is cru-
cial again to note the “politically correct” language he
renounces is not serving the powerful, as Drucker (1998)
feared. Instead, Trump’s “political incorrectness” reflects a
white-centric neoliberal reality and serves the dominant
white US hegemony. This sense of incorrectness as truth tell-
ing allows for backstage racist sentiments to become normal-
ized as logical in the public frontstage. Symbolic, aversive,
backstage, and other contemporary manifestations of both
colorblind and overt racism are already deeply problematic.
Yet, immediate and grave concerns arise when the President
is celebrated by white citizens as he repositions racist fram-
ing as truth telling at the forefront of public discourse.
Donald Trump’s quotes and tweets are widely distributed
online and are given positive support by whites. Hundreds
of tweets agreeing with Trump with regard to immigration,
Mexico, and “political incorrectness” are created each day
(over one dozen were created during the writing of this
article). Trump referred to “political correctness” when
discussing myriad issues in the 2016 presidential race, but
as a focal point for data collection in this article, I focus on
the issues of immigration and United States–Mexico rela-
tions. Not only were these issues consistently highlighted
by Trump’s campaign, but the issue of Mexican and Latinx
immigration is a focal point for racist framing due its long
history of being racialized in public discourse. Mexican
immigrants have been framed in US public dialogue as
peon laborers turned illegal aliens (Flores, 2013).
Metaphorically, Latinx immigrants have been described as
a disease within the national body, a “brown tide” of flood-
waters overcoming the sacred US white home, and as
“lowly steerage-dwellers” weighing down the lifeboats of
an already strained ship (Santa Ana, 2002, p. 293). Thus,
Trump’s popular rhetoric concerning the notion of “politi-
cal incorrectness” as related to Mexican and Latinx US
immigration directly relates to neoliberal and racialized
discourse in the United States.
Because this article focuses on the increasing normaliza-
tion of Trump’s anti-PC rhetoric in the United States on his
journey from the fringe to mainstream politics, qualitative
data collection was geographically restricted to the United
States and only included if posted from his announcement of
his candidacy on June 16, 2015, to his selection as the
official Republican Party nominee on July 19, 2016. I began
by seeking popular media examples of Trump’s views on
“political correctness” during this period. As a sample of his
“incorrectness” when discussing racialized issues, included
are a January 2016 interview Trump gave on CBS’s Face the
Nation, a January 2016 political ad from his campaign titled
“Political Correctness,” and seven of the most popular tweets
from his personal Twitter account during the data collection
period referring to political correctness and United States–
Mexico relations.
As daily news makes us aware, President Trump is
active on Twitter. Headlines in The New York Times quote
Trump’s tweets, and The Atlantic runs an active Trump
Tweet Tracker, explaining the context and supposed rea-
soning behind each of Trump’s tweets. According to public
data collected on the open Twitter analytics program
Twitonomy, at the time of writing, Donald Trump’s Twitter
account boasts over 29.7 million followers with 96% of his
tweets being retweeted over 16 million times and 96% of
his tweets being favorited by other users between December
2015 and July 2016, the time span in which Trump went
from a fringe candidate to the Republican Party nominee.
Trump’s included tweets have anywhere from 8,000 to
100,000 likes and retweets, which offer a glimpse into the
enormous popularity of Trump’s personal account.
Additionally, positive Twitter user responses to Trump’s
tweets were collected to show ways in which Trump’s neo-
liberal “incorrectness” is supported. Like Petray and Collin
(2017) in their study of Twitter users and tweets respond-
ing to #WhiteProverbs, in collecting positive responses to
Trump’s tweets I did not aim for a systematic sampling of
all tweets responding to or disagreeing with Trump’s
“incorrectness,” nor for statistical significance (p. 3).
Rather, I gathered tweets qualitatively from users interact-
ing with Trump as a “central node” on Twitter and reifying
Trump’s “political incorrectness” as part of popular politi-
cal logic and discussion. On Twitter, I first searched for
tweets responding to Donald Trump that included any
combination of the following terms: Trump, politically
correct, political correctness, immigration, and Mexico. I
first utilized the “Top” public posts function of Twitter as
part of this search, aiming to include highly popular Liked
and Retweeted tweets responding to and supporting
Trump’s “incorrectness.” In order to condense an always
growing data set, I limited the search to the same time
period during which I gathered media examples from
Trump (June 16, 2015, to July 19, 2016). Then, every fifth
public tweet containing one or more of the listed search
times and responding to and supporting Trump during the
data collection period was captured until a sample of 50
tweets was assembled. I then employed thematic analysis,
or a method for “identifying, analyzing, and reporting pat-
terns (themes) within data” (Braun & Clarke, 2006, p. 6),
to examine Trump’s rhetoric and the response of his sup-
porters online. I found thematic elements in Trump’s
Gantt Shafer 5
neoliberal and racist rhetoric on “political incorrectness,”
and then sought out the continuation and expansion of
those themes in his supporters’ rhetoric.
Examples of Trump’s Political Incorrectness in
the Media
I begin with examples of documented statements by Donald
Trump about his approach to “political correctness,” United
States–Mexico relations, and immigration. Trump’s depic-
tion of “political correctness” suggests “PC language” dis-
rupts neoliberal progress and beats around the bush
concerning major threats to the nation. For Trump, being
“politically incorrect,” or normalizing backstage racist
beliefs in the frontstage, means embodying a neoliberal ide-
ology, facing dire realities head on, and speaking “truth”
about what needs to be done to fix problems that are real and
imminent. His dismissal of “PC culture” and his approach to
immigration fall primarily into two themes: a sense of
urgency and a need for improved national security. Both
these themes resonate with deep white fears of majority–
minority groups dismantling white supremacy, and in turn
impacting the rationality of a white, neoliberal ideology.
A sense of urgency stretches across Trump’s discussion of
“political correctness,” with emphasis on the inability to get
important tasks done when constantly trying to be “politi-
cally correct.” Due to an inability to discuss problems in his
“incorrect” way, Trump suggests we can no longer make
progress with regard to policy. In an interview on CBS’s Face
the Nation in January 2016, Trump noted his Ivy League edu-
cation and belief in his ability to play the political game, stat-
ing “I can be the most politically correct person with you.
Here’s the problem with political correctness, it takes too
long. We don’t have time. We don’t have time” (Trump,
2016). To give an example of the time and effort wasted on
“political correctness,” Trump recalls a story from a news
conference at which a reporter interrupted his discussion of
“anchor babies,” or a pejorative term for children born in the
United States with undocumented parents. The reporter told
Trump the term was derogatory, and Trump asked the
reporter what he should call these children instead. As Trump
tells his story of their interaction, he states “[the reporter]
gave me like a seven or eight word answer. I said we don’t
have time for that. I’m sorry. We don’t have time for that”
(Trump, 2016). The time spent on acknowledging and
addressing racism in language, institutions, and ways of
thinking is unnecessary and wasteful in a neoliberal reality.
Also in January 2016, Trump’s campaign created a 27-s
political ad titled “Political Correctness” in a series of videos
called “On the Issues” posted to his campaign website and
YouTube channel. In the ad, Trump again draws attention to
his education and political acumen, but states being “politi-
cally correct” and speaking in the way he was taught in the Ivy
League “just takes too much time. It takes too much effort.”
This effort is wasted, he says, as we have to “get things done
in this country and you’re never going to get it done if we just
stay politically correct” (Donald J. Trump for President, 2016).
Again, in neoliberal thinking, the playing field has been equal-
ized for all and individuals bear the responsibility of their
lives, so extra time (or money) spent on “politically correct”
issues, like improving relations with Mexico or creating a path
to citizenship for DREAMers is wasteful.
On his Twitter feed, Trump offers regular reminders the
current political system is broken due to its “political correct-
ness” and lack of urgency and expediency. A tweet from
January 2016 (see Table 1) simply reads as follows: (1)
“Being politically correct takes too much time. We have too
much to get done!”2 Another tweet from December 2015
states: (2) “People have got to stop working to be so politi-
cally correct and focus all of their energy on finding solu-
tions to very complex problems!” When examined through
the neoliberal white racial frame, Trump suggests in these
examples that taking time for “political correctness,” or
including the experiences and concerns of non-dominant and
non-white groups must be eschewed in order for (white)
goals to be accomplished efficiently.
As for the second theme, examples from Trump’s Twitter
feed also showcase his belief that “political correctness”
Table 1. Full Text of Donald Trump’s included tweets.
Number Text
1 Being politically correct takes too much time. We have too much to get done!
2 People have got to stop working to be so politically correct and focus all of their energy on finding solutions to
very complex problems!
3 Obama, and all others, have been so weak, and so politically correct, that terror groups are forming and getting
stronger! Shame.
4 I love the Mexican people, but Mexico is not our friend. They’re killing us at the border and they’re killing us on
jobs and trade. FIGHT!
5 …likewise, billions of dollars get brought into Mexico through the border. We get the killers, drugs & crime,
they get the money!
6 We must stop the crime and killing machine that is illegal immigration. Rampant problems will only get worse.
Take back our country!
7 More radical Islam attacks today—it never ends! Strengthen the borders, we must be vigilant and smart. No
more being politically correct.
6 Social Media + Society
must be shunned in the name of national security. A tweet
from March 2016 reads: (3) “Obama, and all others, have
been so weak, and so politically correct, that terror groups
are forming and getting stronger! Shame.” As he has repeat-
edly done in the public sphere, Trump sees “political correct-
ness” as a frontstage performance by liberal politicians and
their supporters that embodies a weakness—an unwilling-
ness to speak truth. When leaders are “weak,” or do not
attend to a neoliberal, white-centric worldview, Trump
claims they damage national security.
In terms of the threat of non-white immigration specifi-
cally, when talking about Mexico in June and July 2015,
Trump wrote on Twitter that he (4) loves “the Mexico
people,” but that the United States is losing (4) “jobs and
trade” to Mexico who is “not our friend.” According to
Trump, Mexico is (4) “killing us at the border,” as (5)
“billions of dollars get brought into Mexico through the
border” while the United States gets “killers, drugs &
crime.” For these reasons, Trump tweeted we (6) “must
stop the crime and killing machine that is illegal immigra-
tion” and, most ominously, “take back our country.” In a
succinct message in January 2016, Trump simply wrote:
(7) “Strengthen the borders, we must be vigilant and
smart. No more being politically correct.” These tweets
about border and national security reflect the neoliberal
belief that immigrants, despite being given the same
opportunities and choices in life as regular US citizens,
chose to break the law and come to the US out of selfish-
ness and greed. Therefore, these immoral people might be
dangerous, and it is logical that policies should be more
punitive toward those who have deemed themselves
unworthy through their own individual decisions. Once
“political correctness” is quashed, and we stop wasting
time discussing contextual factors for immigration, we
can get down to business defending our prosperous, neo-
liberal, self-made (white) citizens.
Examples of Users Echoing Trump’s Incorrectness
Documented in the Online Frontstage
If Trump’s rhetoric was ignored, his “political incorrectness”
touted in television interviews, political ads, and daily tweets
might not warrant close scrutiny. However, Trump became
the 45th President of the United States, and the neoliberal
beliefs he espoused during his campaign are now a fixture in
mainstream media and public dialogue.
Through the sample of 50 response tweets, Trump’s neo-
liberal “political incorrectness” and stance on immigration
are echoed and expanded on by Twitter users. There is the
sense of urgency to tell the “truth” and “keep” the country,
and the condemnation of the naivety and weakness of “politi-
cally correct” politicians that threatens national security and
subsequently the livelihood of citizens. Interestingly, some
folks supporting Trump’s “incorrectness” acknowledge there
were convinced to support his policies almost solely through
his brash “truth telling.” While I thematically analyzed 50
total examples, I include representative quotes from 15 here,
which can be viewed in their entirety in Table 2.
Of the sample of tweets responding to and supporting
Trump, users echoed the need for urgency in ending “politi-
cal correctness.” PC culture must be stopped quickly in
order to address pressing issues such as national security,
and, as one user wrote, (1) “birth rates, immigration and
appeasement” of minority populations. Again, in a neolib-
eral mind frame, marginalized groups have been given
equal opportunities (the Civil Rights movement, the
DREAM Act, minority scholarships, etc.), and, thus, are at
fault for any of their own shortcomings. Therefore, politi-
cians must stop wasting time on “political correctness,” or
appealing to minority groups, and instead attend to the con-
cerns of the (white) nation directly. Supporters mention
politically correct culture must be stopped if we (2) “want
to keep our country,” be able to speak without walking on
(3) “politically correct eggshells,” and rid ourselves of (4)
“dangerously naive politicians.” Tweets concerned with
urgency and “keeping the country” undoubtedly arise from
nativist and pro-white ideologies, but the tweets are attend-
ing to these ideologies without using any overtly racist lan-
guage or epithets. Rather, the Twitter users are echoing
Trump, and concerned with the fate of the country in the
hands of current politicians who waste time either not see-
ing or not speaking the “truth.”
As for immigration and national security, Trump’s
descriptions of politicians as naive, weak, and unable or
unwilling to speak truthfully about immigrants are reiterated.
One user writes politicians and the politically correct are (5)
“out in force to attack Trump for telling the truth about the
ILLEGAL immigrants from Mexico.” The focus on the ille-
gality of some migrants’ crossing of the border has often
been situated in a highly neoliberal frame, in which the con-
text for the decision is negated and the decision to cross the
border was simply made by an immoral individual who
might potentially do other illegal or dangerous things once in
the United States. When discussing these immigrants and
Trump’s politically incorrect language, another user agrees
Trump is being attacked simply for being honest, stating
Trump (6) “makes a True statement that Mexico is sending
their Human Debris across the border and the Politically
Correct come out in force.” Additionally, another user
acknowledges their own apparent “incorrectness” when writ-
ing in support of Trump. The tweet reads: (7) “OK this isn’t
going to be Politically Correct. Do you think Mexico gives 2
sh*ts about us? They are raping our economy. VOTE
TRUMP! Save USA.” These users agree Trump (8) “gives
the American people a voice” and speaks a “truth” they
believe has been ignored in recent political culture. The
questions to be answered, of course, are: Who all is to be
included in “the American people?” Whose “truth” will be
amplified by Trump’s “incorrectness?” If “we” want to keep
our country, who is included in us?
Gantt Shafer 7
An interesting finding throughout the sample was a stated
willingness to support Trump based solely on his “politically
incorrect” truth telling and dedication to anti-PC political
action. One user states they understand why some citizens
might not like Trump, but you (9) “CAN NEVER SAY HE
tifies in their tweet as a Democrat, but says Trump will likely
get their vote because they are (10) “tired of politically cor-
rect liars.” Another tweet identifies Trump as (11) “brash, not
politically correct, and a blow hard,” but the user vows they
will still vote for him because he “loves our country, and will
stop immigration!” Several other users state their simple
belief in Trump’s ability to (12) “help THE U.S. overall in
immigration, economy, and trade” and (13) improve “home-
land security” through his willingness to speak and act
“incorrectly.” Because he is (14) “Not a Career Politician,
Not Owned, Not Politically Correct,” it seems Trump will act
on the “truth” he speaks. Even as some of these tweets admit
Trump is not an easy character to like or a particularly steady
role model, there is still a draw to the “truth” he speaks that
resonates with the users’ and their ideology.
Some of these Twitter users will argue the policy changes
they desire are tied mainly to economic or national security
concerns. The demand from one user, as they acknowledge
their own “political incorrectness,” for a (15) “COMPLETE
rooted in racism, but a pragmatic national security concern.
Yet, the “truth” encapsulated in Trump’s pragmatic “political
incorrectness” and suggested policies is one of neoliberal
and racist framing. In this frame, due to cultural trends such
as minority scholarship programs and an emphasis on “col-
orblindness” leveling the racial playing field, white citizens
have proven their merit and superiority over other groups.
Twitter users recognized that Trump is a politician who was
willing to use neoliberal language, acknowledge this proven
superiority, and center a neoliberal white-centric narrative at
the federal level of US politics.
Conclusion and Implications
The implications for the normalization of backstage racism
in the frontstage are vast and difficult to correlate with cul-
tural phenomena such as the rise of Trump’s campaign and
subsequent presidency. However, many are concerned
about what it means for our society if racially charged
beliefs enter the public and interracial frontstage discus-
sion under the comfortable neoliberal guise of logical
thinking or truth telling. If our social interaction is perfor-
mance based on trying to avoid embarrassment (Goffman,
1959), what does the mainstream acceptance and
Table 2. Full text of included tweets responding to Trump’s rhetoric.
Number Text
1 agreed—worry about demographics birth rates, immigration and appeasement—politically correct fear and guilt
2 @realDonaldTrump is the best choice on immigration, we can’t be politically correct any longer if we want to keep
our country
3 Before #Trump PPL were afraid 2 talk about illegal immigration & were forced to walk on Politically Correct eggshells
4 @realDonaldTrump No more politically correct & dangerously naive politicians. Vote Trump, 2016. Stop illegal &
control legal immigration
5 The Politically Correct are out in force to attack Trump for telling the truth about the ILLEGAL immigrants from
Mexico, Wake up Sheeple
6 Trump makes a True statement that Mexico is sending their Human Debris across the border and the Politically
Correct come out in force . . . .
7 OK this isn’t going to be Politically Correct. Do you think Mexico gives 2 sh*ts about us? They are raping our
economy. VOTE TRUMP! Save USA
8 Trump gives the American people a voice. A voice to take back our country from political correctness, globalists, and
illegal immigration.
10 I like Donald Trump’s comments about illegal immigration. He may get my vote and I’m a democrat. Tired of politically
correct liars
11 Trump is brash, not politically correct, and a blow hard! But I will vote for him because he loves our country, and will
stop immigration!!!
12 Donald Trump isn’t politically correct, but I think he would help the US overall in immigration, economy and trade. @
13 Trump will end this politically correct culture and illegal immigration & create jobs & have better homeland security!
14 @matthewpoole51 Trump’s Not a Career Politician, Not Owned, Not Politically Correct, Will Stop Illegal Immigration
8 Social Media + Society
celebration of President Trump’s rhetoric mean for citizens
learning what is acceptable in public dialogue? If a neolib-
eral, racist interpretation of truth is accepted as objective
or rational by a critical mass of citizens, it becomes reason-
able for politicians like Trump to, once again in US history,
tout and create neoliberal policy that will continue to per-
petuate a racially stratified nation. As white superiority
and symbolic racism, or the abstract hatred of the other, are
amplified in the frontstage, there are real implications for
non-white others, including Latinx immigrants, who are
steadily demonized in a neoliberal pro-white version of
reality, which can lead to more hate crimes and the creation
of more punitive policy.
President Donald Trump has widely popularized the
notion of “political incorrectness” as truth telling, which, in
actuality, normalizes backstage racist framing of issues like
immigration in the public neoliberal frontstage. The idea
that being “politically correct,” or acknowledging systemic
oppression, ignores white concerns and panders to margin-
alized groups is situated in a pro-white neoliberal world-
view. As previously argued, neoliberal language’s illusion
of subtlety, which can be enhanced by online anonymity,
might embolden people in espousing thoughts they call
“politically incorrect,” rather than racist. Trump’s popular-
ization of neoliberal “incorrectness” allows whites to more
comfortably espouse racist interpretations of issues and yet
still believe they are not racially motivated—or at least not
entirely. Rather, like Trump on his own Twitter feed, they
are motivated by neoliberal arguments of achieved racial
equality and finally speaking the “truth” about groups who
do not make the cut. If Trump is celebrated in the public
sphere for being “politically incorrect,” an individual could
also reasonably expect to be celebrated for it. The individual
and the President are not bigots, as “politically correct” peo-
ple might suggest, they are just speaking the “truth” and
willing to do something about it. In this neoliberal version
of truth, individual and systemic racism are not included.
Alex Nogales, President and CEO of the National
Hispanic Media Coalition, plainly stated his views of
Trump’s “incorrectness.” Speaking to his experience with
hate crimes committed against the Latinx population,
Nogales noted, “in the community, we know that hate speech
has consequences” (Llenas, 2015). Roger C. Rocha, Jr., pres-
ident of the League of United Latin American Citizens,
echoed Nogales’s concerns for Trump’s disregard of the
Latinx community. Rocha stated: “it is obvious that Trump’s
vision of making America great does not include Latinos”
(Llenas, 2015). The Foreign Relations Department of the
Mexican government echoed sentiments from many trying to
fight the initial tide of Trump popularity. The department
stated Trump’s stances on immigration and the United
States–Mexico border “reflect prejudice, racism or plain
ignorance” (Mexico Slams, 2015). They continued by stat-
ing, “anyone who understands the depth of the U.S.-Mexico
relationship [realizes] that those proposals are not only prej-
udiced and absurd, but would be detrimental to the well-
being of both societies” (“Mexico Slams,” 2015).
Nonprofit, anti-racist organizations have also tracked
how the renormalization of backstage racist sentiment via
neoliberal framing has been affecting current US society.
An annual review conducted by the Southern Poverty Law
Center found that in 2015 hate and extremist groups in the
United States, often identifying as anti-PC, patriotic, and
antigovernment, rose by 14%, with particularly “signifi-
cant increases among Klan groups” (Potok, 2016). The
Southern Poverty Law Center cites Trump’s campaign,
which began halfway through 2015, and his popularity as
contributing factors in the recent growth of white extrem-
ism and the normalization of white supremacy as a casual
neoliberal reality. Additionally, in early 2016, the Southern
Poverty Law Center conducted a survey of approximately
2,000 K-12 teachers to investigate the impact campaign
rhetoric was having in the classroom. The survey found
more than two-thirds of the teachers reported “mainly
immigrants, children of immigrants, and Muslims” had
“expressed concerns or fears about what might happen to
them or their families after the election” (Costello, 2016).
An additional third of teachers reported an increase in
observed “anti-Muslim or anti-immigrant sentiment” in
their classrooms (Costello, 2016).
These trends continue to be monitored into Trump’s
presidency. While again it is difficult or even impossible to
link findings directly to a specific cultural phenomenon like
Trump’s rise to mainstream acceptability, the experiences
of these teachers speak to the notion that citizens and their
children might learn vicariously via a successful public fig-
ure how to express racist sentiments in ways accepted or
even rewarded in public. While this article includes exam-
ples from folks on Twitter responding to, supporting, and
normalizing Trump’s neoliberal, racist thoughts on immi-
gration and the non-white other online, the implications for
the normalization of white supremacist thinking across a
mass of white citizens has before ripped into the physical
lives of minority citizens.
Future Research
Future research of these phenomena could extend into the
sexist and openly misogynistic aspects of the neoliberal
frame as embodied in Trump’s “political incorrectness.”
As an example, an additional, infamous tweet from Trump
not included in the sample referenced an interaction he
had with Fox News debate moderator Megyn Kelly. He
wrote: “I refuse to call Megan Kelly a bimbo, because that
would not be politically correct. Instead I will only call
her a lightweight reporter!” The neoliberal frame’s
assumed dominance does not end with race or whiteness.
The frame includes aspects of masculinity, heteronorma-
tivity, wealth, and a white US Christian hegemony that
should continue to be analyzed in Trump’s “politically
Gantt Shafer 9
incorrect” rhetoric and tweets, and positive responses
from his supporters online
Finally, as stated above, future research can continue to
track the normalization and impacts of neoliberal thinking and,
thus, backstage overt racism coming once again comfortably
into the frontstage not only on Twitter but also recorded on
other social media or in-person. An example of this neoliberal
“truth telling” moving comfortably beyond Twitter, but still
being documented via social media, could be found in Snapchat
live Stories from Trump rallies. The Snapchat “Story” feature
culls a stream of audience photographs and videos from a live
event. On March 2, 2016, photograph and video content from
people attending Trump’s campaign rallies were included as a
Story for users to view. In one video, young white men are
filmed jumping up and down chanting “build that wall.” In a
second video, Trump is shown speaking onstage. As he directs
the crowd with his hands, the crowd cheers “ten feet higher” in
unison. The crowd is raucous and the person filming is also
jumping up and down.
These actions are similar to other scenes at passionate polit-
ical rallies, but the rhetoric displayed as acceptable and even
joyful has severe implications for race relations. On Twitter,
the race of the user cannot be verified. The Snapchat live vid-
eos, on the other hand, documented stark video footage of ral-
lies where the racial make-up of the majority white crowd is
difficult to ignore. Future research could consider the implica-
tions inherent in users’ willingness to move from written
tweets to recorded videos, and how this willingness to show
one’s face signifies how neoliberal logic provides an increas-
ingly comfortable rationalization for overt racist behavior.
Declaration of Conflicting Interests
The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect
to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.
The author(s) received no financial support for the research, author-
ship, and/or publication of this article.
1. “Latinx” is used as “the ‘x’ makes Latino, a masculine identi-
fier, gender-neutral” (Reichard, 2015).
2. Tweets are quoted and correlated to Tables 1 and 2, as exhib-
ited by Cisneros and Nakayama (2015) in their article that also
gathered and quoted publicly available Twitter data.
Bernstein, R. (1990, October 28). Ideas and trends; the rising
hegemony of the politically correct. The New York Times.
Retrieved from
Bonilla-Silva, E. (2014). Racism without racists: Color-blind rac-
ism and the persistence of racial inequality in the United States
(4th ed.). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychol-
ogy. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3, 77-101.
Cisneros, J. D., & Nakayama, T. (2015). New media, old rac-
isms: Twitter, Miss America, and cultural logics of race.
Journal of International and Intercultural Communication,
8, 108-127.
CNN Politics. (2016, January 12). These first-time voters are all-
in for Donald Trump. CNN. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.
Costello, M. (2016). The Trump effect: The impact of the presi-
dential campaign on our nation’s schools. Southern Poverty
Law Center. Retrieved from
Donald, J. Trump for President. (2016, January 28). Political cor-
rectness [Video File]. Retrieved from
Drucker, P. F. (1998). Political correctness and American academe.
Society, 35, 380-385.
Feagin, J. R. (2014). Racist America: Roots, current realities, and
future reparations (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.
Flores, L. A. (2003). Constructing rhetorical borders: Peons, ille-
gal aliens, and competing narratives of immigration. Critical
Studies in Media Communication, 20, 362-387.
Gaertner, S. L., & Dovidio, J. F. (2005). Understanding and address-
ing contemporary racism: From aversive racism to the common
ingroup identity model. Journal of Social Issues, 61, 615-639.
Goffman, E. (1959). The presentation of self in everyday life. New
York, NY: Anchor Books.
Hughes, G. (2010). Political correctness: A history of semantics
and culture. Malden, MA: Blackwell.
Kinder, D. R., & Sears, D. O. (1981). Prejudice and politics:
Symbolic racism versus racial threats to the good life. Journal
of Personality and Social Psychology, 40, 414-431.
Llenas, B. (2015, August 21). Latino groups warn Trump’s
immigration rhetoric could inspire more hate crimes. Fox
News. Retrieved from
McRobbie, A. (2009). The aftermath of feminism: Gender, culture
and social change. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.
Mexico slams Trump’s border plan, says itreflects ‘racism or plain
ignorance’. (2015, August 20). Fox News. Retrieved from
Petray, T. L., & Collin, R. (2017). Your privilege is trending:
Confronting whiteness on social media. Social Media +
Society, 3, 1-10. doi:10.1177/2056305117706783
Picca, L. H., & Feagin, J. (2007). Two-faced racism: Whites in the
backstage and frontstage. New York, NY: Routledge.
Potok, M. (2016, February 17). Editorial: A year of living danger-
ously. Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved from https://
Reichard, R. (2015, August 29). Why we say Latinx: Trans & gen-
der non-conforming people explain. Latina. Retrieved from
10 Social Media + Society
Santa Ana, O. (2002). Brown tide rising: Metaphors of Latinos in
contemporary American public discourse. Austin: University
of Texas Press.
Shenk, T. (2016, August 16). The dark history of Donald Trump’s
rightwing revolt. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.
TIME Staff. (2015, June 16). Here’s Donald Trump’s presiden-
tial announcement speech. TIME. Retrieved from http://time.
Trump, D. (2016, January 3). Donald Trump on political
correctness: It takes too long (J. Dickerson, interviewer).
YouTube. Retrieved from
Van de Mieroop, K. (2016). On the advantage and disadvantage of
black history month for life: The creation of the post-racial era.
History & Theory, 55, 3-24.
Author Biography
Jessica Gantt Shafer (MA Colorado State University) is a doctoral
candidate at Texas A&M University. Her research interests include
critical media and technology studies, feminist and anti-racist activ-
ism, and the neoliberal ideology.
... In Malaysia, a growing body of research has begun to look at social media as an online means of producing meaning, as a potential virtual public sphere, and as a platform for the development of the digital culture (Alakklouk & Mokhtar, 2017;Khairulnissa & Aziz, 2021). In fact, a slew of studies has focused on Twitter's crucial role in making sense of race and gender issues (Alexander & Chaudhry, 2016;LeFebvre & Armstrong, 2018;Shafer, 2017). Other studies that include Web 2.0 as part of the digital involvement in the public realm are more skeptical, only quantifying text-based hate speech (Davidson, Warmsley, Macy, & Weber, 2017;Saleem, Dillon, Benesch, & Ruths, 2017). ...
... Several academic investigations were prompted by the availability of user data combined with provocative occurrences. For example, in collecting Donald Trump's quotes and tweets, a study utilised only the top posts function of Twitter (Shafer, 2017). Another study focused on anti-Islamic hashtag-related speech and studied public Twitter data (Rzepnikowska, 2019). ...
Full-text available
Free speech is not a license for racists to spread propaganda. However, the outbreak of COVID-19 and its subsequent spread across the globe has left a shocking wave of disbelief resulting in an upsurge of xenophobia in the society. Racism is a system of dominance and power designed to uphold the racially privileged. This study delves into the consciousness of Twitter postings during the COVID-19 pandemic and deconstructs the power dynamics in the hashtags used. The study’s data was analysed using Twitter Application Programming Interface (API) to identify the representation within tweet sample sets. The study concludes that social interactions on Twitter constructs power dynamics and these shared values create a new form of power resistance and subjugated knowledge. This leads to a discussion of power between social media intertwined with the machine learning tools in social science and humanities studies. This study contributes to the academic debates about the public sphere and social media's role in constructing meaning in cultural and social change. It also suggests that Twitter develops policies to prohibit hate speech and impose regulations to ensure that online spaces remain civil, safe, and democratic.
... This may be why most work in this area is constituted either of essays (often based on the author's personal experience or opinion) on how political correctness stifles open discussions of diversity (e.g., Klatt, 1997;Meynell, 2017;Schwartz, 2002), or analyses of politically (in)correct speech around diversity in elections (e.g., Gantt-Shafer, 2017;Kayam, 2018;Major et al., 2018). ...
... UN member states leaders reacted to the pandemic COVID-19 on Twitter (Haman, 2020). Shafer (2017) reports that characterized by free expression and easy interaction, Twitter has become a widely used platform in political campaigns, resulting in a greater presence of political parties, candidates, and journalists on Twitter to disseminate their personal political attitudes and ideas. ...
Full-text available
This study aimed to explore the former US President Donald Trump’s representation of “us” and “others” in his tweets related to COVID-19 and how he portrayed the representation of “us” and “others”. In this study, the sample related to COVID-19 which ranged from January to May 2020, consisted of the tweets posted by the former US President Donald Trump. To analyze the ideological discourse of the former President Donald Trump’s tweets during COVID-19, the ideological framework proposed by Van Dijk (Approaches to Media Discourse. Blackwell Publishing, 1997) was adopted to reveal the underlying intentions and ideologies of us-representation and others-representation. The results of this research indicate that Donald Trump portrayed a positive us-group and a negative others-group. Moreover, argumentation/authority, comparison, repetition, capitalization, and metaphors are the typical strategies that former President Trump used to portray both groups. It was also found that the positive opinions about the us-group and the negative ones about the others-group were not always consistent. For example, there were also changes when the same descriptions were given to both groups, which may well be coherent concerning the basic interests of the groups (Van Dijk, in: Approaches to Media Discourse. Blackwell Publishing, 1997). The findings of this study may contribute to an analysis of the president’s discourse on Twitter, which is a relatively recent channel for political information (Kerbleski, in: Trump, Twitter, and the trees: a critical discourse analysis of Donald Trump's tweets surrounding the november 2018 California Wildfires. Doctoral dissertation, Northern Arizona University, 2019).
... Twitter is ideal to address the study's aim, as it is a space of contestation, where meaning-making processes take place (Lindgren, 2017) and which has been repeatedly found to amplify racism (Cisneros and Nakayama, 2015), antimigrant stances (Avraamidou et al., 2021, Ozduzen et al., 2020, nationalism, fascism (Fuchs, 2017(Fuchs, , 2019, antisemitism (Gantt, 2017;Jakubowicz, 2017) and white supremacist ideologies (Siapera, 2019). Notably, the abundance of relevant content led the social media giant to suspend accounts of white supremacists (Dearden, 2020), which of course did not Predominant representations of migration in traditional and social media: between threat and humanitarianism Migrants and refugees remain mostly invisible in the traditional media of the Global north, as even when they gain media attention, their voices are rarely heard (Georgiou, 2018). ...
Full-text available
This work examines how the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic reshaped the migration debate on Twitter. Through co-hashtag network analysis, time-frequency and content analysis, it shows that the pandemic was related with positive (humanitarian) and negative (threat) stances about migration. The positive side focused on the need to protect refugees stranded at camps in Greece from COVID-19. The negative focused on the Greek-Turkish land-border crisis (Evros crisis), using COVID-19 to reinforce migrants as racialized others. These findings fit the problematization of positive and negative migrant representations in the Global north as Eurocentric. In the case of camps, refugees fit well within the victim/helpless frame, justifying humanitarianism, this time on health grounds. Regarding the border crisis, refugees also fit the Eurocentric frame of vio-lent/male/inferior other who could spread a deadly virus. Overall, COVID-19 intertwined with migration in Twitter debates, reinforcing the racialized, Eurocentric representational field on migrants from the Global south.
... Whites are in danger because of their perceived marginalized status are present in alternative farright networks on social media (Munger & Phillips, 2020). Similarly, references to Whites no longer being the majority and racial minorities having advantages over Whites (i.e., reverse racism) are frequently made on platforms such as Twitter (Petray & Collin, 2017;Shafer, 2017). ...
Recent data from anti-hate organizations finds that pro-White events, propaganda, and groups are steadily increasing in the United States. Additionally, large collective actions and mass shootings that are racially motivated have become highly visible in the past few years. Given social media’s role in both influencing and acting as a platform for the far-right, its impact cannot be ignored. Across two studies, this dissertation examines the themes underlying White nationalist social media content and its influence on White Americans’ intra and intergroup relations. In Study One, a content analysis of videos from five White nationalist YouTube channels finds that outgroups are both frequently discussed and mentioned in threatening or negative ways. Additionally, these videos regularly include content that references psychological mechanisms known to increase collective action intentions in the real world. In Study Two, a cross-sectional survey finds that self-reported exposure to social media content containing references to White injustice are associated with intentions to engage in collective action to improve the status and position of Whites in American society. Further, exposure to White injustice on social media has an especially strong influence on the real-world attitudes of Democrats. These findings reflect the important role played by digital media in the rise of White nationalism in Western nations with multicultural societies.
This study uses the Narrative Policy Framework to examine President Trump's tweets about immigration policy from 2011 to 2020. Based on a content analysis of 1733 tweets, I show that Trump's policy narratives centered on the villain character type, though the actual villains varied over time, and that the hero character became increasingly prominent throughout Trump's administration. While the characters, settings, and solutions in Trump's immigration policy tweets fluctuated, they were consistent with a narrative strategy of conflict expansion, focusing on threats from dangerous “outsiders” and the neutralization of those threats by Trump and his allies in the Republican Party and law enforcement. I demonstrate that tweets featuring villains and victims were positively associated with retweets and replies, while tweets featuring heroes were negatively associated with retweets and replies. This research suggests that Trump's immigration policy tweets were strategic, though his efforts to shape immigration policy may have been secondary to his political goals of securing electoral victories and amassing power. Chang, Katherine T., and Elizabeth A. Koebele. 2020. “What Drives Coalitions' Narrative Strategy? Exploring Policy Narratives around School Choice.” Politics & Policy 48(4): 618–57. Garrett, Terence Michael. 2020. “The Security Apparatus, Federal Magistrate Courts, and Detention Centers as Simulacra: The Effects of Trump's Zero Tolerance Policy on Migrants and Refugees in the Rio Grande Valley.” Politics & Policy 48(2): 372–95. Shanahan, Elizabeth A., Mark K. McBeth, and Paul L. Hathaway. 2011. “Narrative Policy Framework: The Influence of Media Policy Narrative on Public Opinion.” Politics & Policy 39(3): 373–400.‐1346.2011.00295.x. Este estudio utiliza el Marco de política narrativa para examinar los tuits del presidente Trump sobre la política de inmigración de 2011 a 2020. Con base en un análisis de contenido de 1733 tuits, muestro que las narrativas de política de Trump se centraron en el tipo de personaje del villano, aunque los villanos reales variaron con el tiempo. y que el personaje del héroe se volvió cada vez más prominente a lo largo de la administración de Trump. Si bien los personajes, escenarios y soluciones en los tuits de la política de inmigración de Trump fluctuaron, fueron consistentes con una estrategia narrativa de expansión del conflicto, enfocándose en las amenazas de peligrosos “forasteros” y la neutralización de esas amenazas por parte de Trump y sus aliados en el Partido Republicano y cumplimiento de la ley. Finalmente, demuestro que los tuits con villanos y víctimas se asociaron positivamente con retuits y respuestas, mientras que los tuits con héroes se asociaron negativamente con retuits y respuestas. Esta investigación sugiere que los tuits de política de inmigración de Trump fueron estratégicos, aunque sus esfuerzos por dar forma a la política de inmigración pueden haber sido secundarios a sus objetivos políticos de asegurar victorias electorales y acumular poder. 本研究使用叙事政策框架,分析特朗普总统关于2011年至2020年移民政策的推文。基于对1733条推文的内容分析,我表明,特朗普的政策叙事以反面角色类型为中心,尽管实际的反面角色会随着时间而变化,并且正面角色在特朗普执政期间变得越来越突出。虽然特朗普的移民政策推文中的角色、背景和解决方案有所波动,但它们与关于冲突扩张的叙事策略是一致的,聚焦于来自危险“外来者”的威胁,以及特朗普、其共和党盟友和执法对这些威胁的中和作用。最后,我证明,以反面角色和受害者为主题的推文与转发和回复呈正相关,而以正面角色为主题的推文与转发和回复呈负相关。本研究表明,特朗普的移民政策推文具有战略意义,尽管其制定移民政策的相关努力可能次于其在确保选举胜利和积累权力方面的政治目标。
Racial-ethnic inequity is deeply entrenched in U.S. social systems, yet adolescents’ voices and understanding around inequity are not often directly examined. The current qualitative study uses focus group data from African American ( n = 21), Chinese- ( n = 17), Indian- ( n = 13), and Mexican- ( n = 17) origin adolescents ( M age = 12.93 years; SD = 1.23; 51% boys) to provide insight on how youth navigate their attitudes and beliefs about these issues. Using a racial-ethnic socialization lens, we explore proximal (e.g., parents, peers, teachers) and distal (e.g., media, society) ways in which adolescents come to understand racial-ethnic inequity. Three themes characterized adolescents’ discussions. School diversity, of peers and of thought, and messages around egalitarianism were two prominent influences on their perceptions. A third theme related to perceptions of social hierarchies, which appeared to be shaped by stereotypes, peer interactions, and ideas about inequity itself. Emergent themes suggest that the school context is a particularly salient social setting that encompasses multiple sources of socialization (e.g., teachers, classmates, academics, climate), and parents, peers, and the media also play prominent roles.
Schools worldwide are increasingly enmeshed in discourses of securitisation. Efforts to prevent or counter violent extremism (P/CVE) are a manifestation of this. P/CVE in education takes various forms; the pilot explored here is considered super-soft in that no mention was made of violent extremism. Attention was given to schools’ capacities to enhance social cohesion through Restorative Practices (RP) – a method for building social capital. We use an affective-discursive lens to explore how affects/emotions are caught in a dispositif of governance fundamental to efforts to regulate youth through this method. Specifically, we focus on extreme emotional incidents that highlight norms and practices in which violence and emotions are entangled, which expose limits and implications of RPs. While holding promise for transcending punitive disciplinary methods, we argue that RPs rely on logics that limit how violence is understood, locating violent problems within the problem bodies of marginalised youth.
This article focuses on the linguistic aspects of Trump’s political discourse, as reflected in some of his tweets targeted at specific countries, political groups and immigrants, posted on Twitter between 2015 and 2019. A qualitative research design, using a descriptive and interpretative analysis, has been applied in this study, which is part of a broader research on Trump’s discourse. The underlying theoretical framework is the one provided by Norman Fairclough's 3-dimensional model of discourse. The current study, thus, aims to critically explore both the main linguistic features present in the corpus analysed and the ideological aspects possibly associated with Trump’s selection of linguistic means. One of the underlying considerations in this research endeavour is that the ideological standpoint is a particularly important one, since presidential discourses are typically molded by their authors’ status and authority. It is hoped that this work will make a contribution to the field of Critical Discourse Analysis applied to political discourse, in the current period.
There are worldwide concerns about the rise of White nationalism and its implications for intergroup relations in multicultural societies. Social media, in particular, has allowed far-right groups to easily share their perspectives with and influence others in support of their ideologies. Yet, few studies have empirically examined what psychological factors are discussed within this content to motivate collective action. A quantitative content analysis of 100 White nationalist videos on YouTube reveals that social outgroups (Muslims, immigrants, feminists) are frequently discussed as threats to Whites’ status. Not only were calls for collective action discussed in at least 12% of videos, themes surrounding White identity and injustice faced by Whites were often underlying these calls, consistent with the theoretical propositions of the Social Identity Model of Collective Action. These results are novel as they identify psychological mechanisms referenced in White nationalist social media that motivate collective actions among White Americans.
Full-text available
This article examines the phenomenon of racist speech on social media, focusing on the controversy over racist tweets about the first Indian American Miss America, Nina Davuluri. The essay highlights tensions between “old” and “new” cultural logics about race. Specifically, it explores why such an “old” form of racist discourse, which explicitly imputes racial difference and exclusion, resurfaces on social media in the era of “new” or “color-blind” racism. Our study demonstrates the perseverance of racist discourse, its complementarity with ideologies of post-racialism, and the ways in which social networking technologies shape communication about race, culture, and identity.
Social media activism provides an important space for dialogue and consciousness-raising. Racism, privilege, and inequalities have received considerable attention in social media discussions. #WhiteProverbs was one attempt to confront this issue, focusing particularly on White privilege. The tweets show how social media is a site where “serious games” are played, as agents are constrained by the “rules” but still able to make choices and push boundaries. This article explores the #WhiteProverbs tweets that came from Australian users to better understand how Australian social media users understand and confront whiteness. Through the use of humor, specifically irony and sarcasm, Twitter users identify a number of key ways that White privilege is reproduced, including justifications for racial inequality, questioning claims to racial differences, and constructing an exclusively White national identity.
Congratulations to Dr. McRobbie! This book has been named to the list of books for the 2009 Critics Choice Book Award of the American Educational Studies Association (AESA).These essays show Angela McRobbie reflecting on a range of issues which have political consequence for women, particularly young women, in a context where it is frequently assumed that progress has been made in the last 30 years, and that with gender issues now 'mainstreamed' in cultural and social life, the moment of feminism per se is now passed. McRobbie trenchantly argues that it is precisely on these grounds that invidious forms of gender -re-stabilisation are able to be re-established. Consumer culture, she argues, encroaches on the terrain of so called female freedom, appears supportive of female success only to tie women into new post-feminist neurotic dependencies. These nine essays span a wide range of topics, including - the UK government's 'new sexual contract' to young women, - popular TV makeover programmes, - feminist theories of backlash and the 'undoing' of sexual politics, - feminism in a global frame- the 'illegible rage' underlying contemporary femininities.
This article takes the Nietzschean dictum that history must “serve life” as a point of departure for an analysis of the American institution of Black History Month. Many continue to place great faith in the power of historical education to solve problems of race in America. Against this common-sense view, this article argues that the excessive historicization of the problem of racism is at least as oppressive as forgetting. The black history propagated during this month has mostly been a celebration that it is history and thus a thing of the past. The article makes the claim that it is precisely a surfeit of black history that has encouraged the view that racism is vanishing in the river of time. The constant demand to view American racism through a historical frame has led to the perception that racism is a problem that must be historically transcended rather than solved. In other words, it is through the widespread dissemination of black history during Black History Month and elsewhere that the historical category of the post-racial era has been constituted. The postracial era is not, as is so often claimed, a denial of historical context. On the contrary, it is an assertion that the horrors of racist discrimination were once real but are now over and done with.
In this carefully researched, thought-provoking book, Geoffrey Hughes examines the trajectory of political correctness and its impact on public life. Focusing on the historical, semantic, and cultural aspects of political correctness, it will intrigue anyone interested in this ongoing debate. A unique and intriguing journey through the trajectory of political correctness and its impact on public life, focusing on the historical, semantic, and cultural aspects of what PC means. Explores the origins, progress, content and style of political correctness, discussing and analyzing around one hundred terms and lexical formations, from Chaucer and Shakespeare, Marlowe and Swift, to nursery rhymes, rap and Spike Lee films, David Mamet, J. M. Coetzee and Philip Larkin. Offers a detailed semantic analysis of the way that key words have been exploited both to advance the agendas of political correctness and to refute them.