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Hate speech and identity politics. An intercultural communication perspective



Hate speech has become a key element of contemporary political discourse. It has also changed the very structure of communication. With the access to public sphere provided by social media, hate speech engages people in connective action, which allows it to construct and deconstruct collective identity. By doing this, hate speech undermines the idea of multicultural society. In order to succeed, such a society needs to engage its members in inclusive intercultural dialogue while hate speech strongly excludes all dissident voices, deepening political polarisation. This article presents an extensive analysis of hate speech from the perspective of intercultural communication. Drawing from available research and literature, the author puts forward the thesis that hate speech is a communicative phenomenon that not only disrupts intercultural dialogue, but also leads to the disintegration of multicultural society.
Przegląd Europejski
vol. 2019, no. 3
Hate speech and identity politics.
An intercultural communication perspective
Krzysztof Wasilewski, Koszalin University of Technology
ORCID: 0000-0002-5378-2822
Hate speech has become a key element of contemporary political discourse. It has also changed
the very structure of communication. With the access to public sphere provided by social media,
hate speech engages people in connective action, which allows it to construct and deconstruct
collective identity. By doing this, hate speech undermines the idea of multicultural society. In order
to succeed, such a society needs to engage its members in inclusive intercultural dialogue while
hate speech strongly excludes all dissident voices, deepening political polarisation. This article
presents an extensive analysis of hate speech from the perspective of intercultural communication.
Drawing from available research and literature, the author puts forward the thesis that hate speech
is a communicative phenomenon that not only disrupts intercultural dialogue, but also leads to the
disintegration of multicultural society.
Keywords: hate speech, media, intercultural communication, identity politics, intercultural dialogue,
political polarisation
Mowa nienawiści i polityka tożsamości. Perspektywa komunikowania między
Mowa nienawiści na stałe wpisała się we współczesny dyskurs polityczny. Co więcej, doprowadziła
do zmiany samej struktury komunikowania. Dzięki mediom społecznościowym, mowa nienawiści
przedostała się do sfery publicznej, gdzie łączy użytkowników za pośrednictwem różnego rodzaju
akcji społecznościowych, co z kolei pozwala jej na konstruowanie i dekonstruowanie tożsamości.
W konsekwencji, mowa nienawiści podważa same fundamenty społeczeństwa wielokulturowego.
Tymczasem, powodzenie takiego społeczeństwa zależy od jego zdolności do zaangażowania po-
szczególnych jednostek do dialogu międzykulturowego. Z kolei mowa nienawiści wyrzuca poza
nawias społeczeństwa wszystkie głosy sprzeciwu, pogłębiając tym samym polityczną polaryzację.
Artykuł przedstawia zatem innowacyjną i szeroką analizę mowy nienawiści z perspektywy komu-
nikowania międzykulturowego. Posiłkując się dostępnymi badaniami i literaturą przedmiotu, Autor
stawia tezę, iż mowa nienawiści, jako komunikacyjny fenomen, nie tylko zakłóca dialog międzykul-
turowy, ale także prowadzi do dezintegracji społeczeństwa wielokulturowego.
Krzysztof Wasilewski
Słowa kluczowe: mowa nienawiści, media, komunikowanie międzykulturowe, polityka tożsamości,
dialog międzykulturowy, polaryzacja polityczna
According to a number of analyses, hate speech has become one of the key ele-
ments of contemporary political discourse (Drożdż 2016: p. 28). It has proliferated from
strong political polarisation that can be observed in almost every democratic country
in Europe and elsewhere. What once existed only as the margin of public debate, e.g.
dehumanisation of political enemies and defamatory language, has now reached and
aected the mainstream thought. Unsurprisingly, hate speech has become an important
aspect of political science research, symbolised by the founding of the International Net-
work for Hate Studies in 2013, followed by the establishment of the “Journal of Hate Stud-
ies”. It must be remembered, however, that hate speech has not only brutalised political
discourse. It has aected the very structure of communication as well. Together with the
rapid ascent of social media and their growing role in day-to-day communication, hate
speech has become a plausible tool in the hands of populists. Politicians and activists
alike have realised the great potential of hate speech to construct and deconstruct col-
lective identities, often by excluding others, however, they would be dened. From
the perspective of intercultural communication it means a serious threat not only for
intercultural dialogue but for the very idea of the multicultural society.
Thus, the aim of this article is to analyse hate speech and its role in identity politics from
the perspective of intercultural communication. Dening intercultural communication
as a communication between members of various ethnic, cultural, sexual, and political
groups that together form one society, I put forward the thesis that hate speech should
be regarded as one of the main obstacles to intercultural dialogue and, consequently,
multicultural society. What is more, since intercultural communication takes place via
mass media, thus, the multifaceted developments in media systems have enhanced
the potential of hate speech while downgrading the ability of intercultural dialogue to
engage people. Although, in this study I concentrate on Poland, I also include numerous
examples from the other countries, mainly the United States. As the following analysis is
largely theoretical in scope, I draw my conclusions from the already published research
and literature, applying to this material analytical methods.
Intercultural communication and Hate speech
Intercultural communication is traditionally dened as communication between
members of dierent national and ethnic groups (Ratajczak 2012: p. 16). Still some schol-
ars distinguish between intercultural communication and cross-cultural communication,
which involves various groups that comprise one society – or one national culture. How-
ever, here I would like to follow those researchers who dene intercultural communica-
tion broadly, including in its denition not only ethnic groups, but also cultural, sexual,
and even political groups that together form one public sphere – or a space where
various ideas meet and compete with one another. There is no doubt that such intercul-
Hate speech and identity politics. An intercultural communication perspective 177
tural communication would be severely limited – if not impossible – without the mass
media. Naturally, it is easy to imagine a two-person intercultural conversation without the
involvement of the media. Still, most of the information that both strangers would have
about each other – especially if they represent dierent ethnicities – would come from
the media. It must be noted that media may facilitate understanding among members
of various groups, but they may also strengthen stereotypes, reinforcing mutual distrust
or even hatred (Keshishian 2004: p. 230). While with the mass media’s positive input,
intercultural communication takes the form of dialogue, with their negative inuence,
intercultural communication becomes dened by conict. Consequently, when separate
groups focus on one another’s dierences instead of similarities, multicultural society
is at risk of disintegration. As multiculturalism characterizes most European countries,
hate speech should be considered as one of the main threats to the stability of Western
From this perspective hate speech is the most radical form of intercultural conict.
When hate speech becomes part of identity politics, separate groups start dening each
other through the opposition to others. According to the Council of Europe, hate speech
“covers all forms of expressions that spread, incite, promote or justify racial hatred, xe-
nophobia, anti-Semitism or other forms of hatred based on intolerance” (Zubčevič et al.
2018: p.10). As such, hate speech constitutes a threat to peaceful coexistence within one
society. In other words, when hate speech dominates public debate (public sphere), mul-
ticultural society is not as much undermined, as it is put into question en masse. It must
be remembered that although conict is nothing unusual in intercultural communication
– even more, to some extent it is necessary and often precedes dialogue – hate speech
takes conict to the extreme, refusing political opponents the right to participate in pub-
lic sphere. By consequence, “traditional” public sphere, where intercultural communica-
tion could develop, fades and is substituted by numerous “emotional” public spheres,
that is “the emotional substrate of democratic politics, the domain of public emotion in
which the activities of the political public sphere are always and inevitably embedded”
(Richards 2018: p. 2041). Hate speech proliferates in contemporary political discourse and
identity politics due to a number of factors, most notably the widespread access to the
internet and the growing position of social media in every modern media system. At the
same time, the very same factors seem to impede intercultural communication. On the
other hand, it must be remembered that both hate speech and intercultural communica-
tion depend also on other factors, including those of non-media origin.
Nonmedia factors
Before I move to the analysis of how media inuence intercultural communication,
I would like to focus on non-media factors. Among them, a given country’s ethnic struc-
ture takes priority. Available studies show signicant correlation between society’s ethnic
homogenity and the ability of its members to engage in intercultural communication
(Neuliep, McCroskey 1997: p. 389). It is true that such a situation, where one group remains
Krzysztof Wasilewski
dominant over others, facilitates the formation of a group identity. However, at the same
time it impedes not only the external dialogue, but also communication within the group.
The French sociologist Alain Touraine observes in his book Can we live together? Equal-
ity and dierence, that “intercultural communication is possible only if the subject has
already succeeded in escaping from its community. The other can be recognised as such
only if it is understood, accepted and loved as a subject, or as an attempt to reconcile,
within the unity of a life and a life project, an instrumental action and a cultural identity
that must always be released from historically determined forms of social organization.”
(Touraine 2000: p. 169). In other words, the more homogenous a society is, the less it is
likely to succeed is intercultural communication.
Poland is ranked as one of the most monoethnic countries in Europe (Adamczyk,
Kaźmierczak 2015: p. 9–26). Although, the Bill on national and ethnic minorities and regional
language, passed in 2005, ocially distinguishes nine national and four ethnic minorities,
their overall numbers in the country remain relatively low (Ustawa 2005/141). According
to the Polish Census of 2011, almost 95 percent of the country’s entire population of 38,5
million identied their ethnicity as exclusively Polish. (Narodowy Spis Powszechny 2011:
p. 29). What is more, out of 2,26 percent who declared double ethnic identication, 2,05
picked Polish identity as their rst, whereas only 0,22 percent as the second. In total, only
1,55 percent of the population (some 596,300) declared exclusively non-Polish ethnic
identication. Also the recent labor immigration to Poland, especially from Ukraine and
other post-Soviet republics, has not reached such a level that could signicantly change
the ethnic structure of the country.
Together with ethnic homogeneity the lack of religious diversity comes. The Polish
Census of 2011 indicates that some 87,6 percent of the population declares themselves
Roman Catholics, which makes 98,56 percent of all who answered the question about
their religious denomination (Narodowy Spis Powszechny 2011: p. 93). Other Christian and
non-Christian churches remain marginal. According to the census, the second-largest
is the Orthodox Church with some 156,300 faithful 0,41 percent of the entire Polish
population. With 137,300 members (0,36 percent), the Jehovah’s Witnesses secure the
third position. The visible predominance of Roman Catholics, as well as the unique role
of the Catholic Church in Poland’s distant and recent past, has merged religious identity
with ethnic identity. Although, according to one opinion poll from 2012, only nine percent
believe that being Catholic was a necessary feature to consider oneself a Pole, the role
of the Catholic Church in both politics and social relations in Poland cannot be underes-
timated (Nie trzeba… 2012). Moreover, as the Pew Research Center has found out, there is
a considerable dierence between Catholics in Western Europe and Central and Eastern
Europe. As the former appear to be more tolerant and more accepting of other religions
(e.g. Islam) than members of other Christian churches, the latter remain conservative and
largely distrustful of others (Starr 2018). Polish Catholics are also less open to such topics
as homosexuality or abortion. Such a conservative form of Catholicism may addition-
ally impede the ability to engage in intercultural communication. In one of her books,
Jane Jackson writes that although “membership in a religious group can oer believers
Hate speech and identity politics. An intercultural communication perspective 179
a sense of community and provide inner fullment”, strong religious identity “can serve
as a barrier to intercultural communication” (Jackson 2014: p. 149).
The above features have direct impact on Poland’s identity politics (Zarycki et al. 2017).
Much as it is the case in other modern countries, also here strong political polarization
can be observed. What is interesting here, however, is the fact that political polariza-
tion takes place in a largely monoethnic and monoreligious society, which foretells an
important change. Scholars indicate that until recently political polarization most often
was taking place in ethnically and religiously divided societies (Westlake 2016). Indeed,
it is still the case; yet recent trends indicate that it is political sympathies that – even
more than ethnic divisions are becoming the major factor of polarization in western
societies. In its analysis of American politics, the Pew Research Center concludes that
“the overall share of Americans who express consistently conservative or consistently
liberal opinions has doubled over the past two decades from 10% to 21%. And ideological
thinking is now much more closely aligned with partisanship than in the past. As a result,
ideological overlap between the two parties has diminished” (Political Polarization 2014).
Despite all the dierences between the U.S. and Poland, many political trends
in the rst mentioned country can also be observed in the second mentioned one.
Party identication seems to have become one of the main characteristics through
which the Poles judge and evaluate one another. Although Poland does not have the
two party system like in the U.S., there is a strong division into sympathisers of the
ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS) and the liberal and left-wing opposition. To what
extent political polarisation radicalizes discourse in Poland exposed the assassination
of Paweł Adamowicz, the mayor of Gdansk, on January 13, 2018. In reaction to this,
“New York Times” observed that the politician’s murder “revealed absolutely horrifying
political polarization” (Editorial Board 2019). In fact, the thesis oered by the paper’s
editorial board nds support in recent research. According to Paulina Górska (2019: p.
2), who conducted studies on political divisions, “the Polish society can be considered
as divided”. Moreover, those who support the liberal opposition perceive their political
opponents in a more negative light than groups that are traditionally regarded by Poles
as “others”, such as Jews, Muslims, refugees, homosexuals, and transgender. Similarly,
sympathizers of the right-wing ruling party (PiS) consider their political opponents as
negatively as Jews, Muslims, and others. Keeping in mind that political ideology – to-
gether with ethnicity and religion – is the key element in the construction of culture,
such strong political polarization impacts the ability of the Polish society to engage in
intercultural communication – both within the society and outside it.
Media factors
Contemporary intercultural communication cannot take place without the involve-
ment of mass media (Rider 1994). Until 1989 the Polish media were directly controlled by
the communist party apparatus and served rst and foremost as a tool to disseminate
ocial propaganda (Goban-Klas 2004). With the transformation of the political and eco-
Krzysztof Wasilewski
nomic system, however, the media underwent an in-depth reform. While some scholars
argue, that “Poland represents a mixture of Polarised Pluralist and the Liberal model” of
the media (Hallin, Mancini 2011: p. 318), according to others, since the early 1990s the Pol-
ish media system has experienced the rapid process of “Italianization” (Dobek-Ostrowska
2012; Curry 1990). Just like in Italy and other Southern European countries (e.g. Spain,
Greece), also in Poland (and other Central European countries) media are dominated
by four factors: state control over the public media; close but often indirect relationship
between political parties and media outlets; integration between media and political
elites; and ethical divisions among journalists and media personnel (Mancini 1991: p. 139).
In addition to political inuences, the media content in Poland is determined by economic
factors. Bogusława Dobek-Ostrowska and her team (Dobek-Ostrowska et al. 2013: p. 20),
who conducted qualitative research among Polish journalists, point out that “increasingly
often it is not the political factors which decide the future of a profession and the way it
is practiced but the business ones.” Naturally, their research concerned only professional
journalists, working for established media outlets.
It must be remembered that at least since the early 2000s, more and more content has
been produced by the so-called new media, including social media, which are often run
and produced by amateurs. Such outlets usually demonstrate strong political aliation,
with economic gains being rather a by-product than the main strategic goal. There is no
doubt that the growing role of the social media in public sphere has a direct impact on
intercultural communication. Whereas until the late 1990s, public sphere (in the Habermas’
understanding) was strongly controlled by the mainstream media (where radical views
from both left and right were marginalised or even silenced), since the “internet explosion”
at the onset of the 21st century, the traditional public sphere has been divided into multiple
“emotional” public spheres. Even more importantly, these public spheres – regardless how
marginal or radical voices they carry – enjoy the same chance to reach general public as
the “traditional” public sphere dominated by the mainstream, centrist media. Social media
not only make space for radical views; they also foster divisions within the society. With the
formation of “information bubbles”, which keep people apart from those of dierent politi-
cal views, social media make polarization even stronger, as “greater interaction between
like-minded individuals results in polarisation” (Kerric 2014: p. 109).
Both the 2015 Polish parliamentary elections and 2016 US presidential elections
proved that the ability of the mainstream media to set agenda and establish media
frames among users had weakened (Wasilewski 2017). Some extensive research has
been made in the case of the latter, which shows that while liberals still prefer traditional
media outlets, such as the “New York Times” or CNN, people with conservative views
largely rely on their own media, that is social media proles of their candidates and mar-
ginal, often radical, websites. As Yochai Benkler and others point out, media polarisation
online in 2016 “was asymmetric. Pro-Clinton audiences were highly attentive to traditional
media outlets across the public sphere, alongside more left-oriented online sites. But
pro-Trump audiences paid the majority of their attention to polarised outlets that have
developed recently, many of them only since the 2008 election season” (Benkler et al.
Hate speech and identity politics. An intercultural communication perspective 181
2017). Among others, it reinforces the thesis that instead of one public sphere, where all
political sites could discuss and exchange their views, two and more public spheres have
appeared, all of which independent from one another. Unsurprisingly, it has led to the
creation of “an internally coherent, relatively insulated knowledge community, reinforc-
ing the shared worldview of readers and shielding them from journalism that challenged
it” (Benkler et al. 2017). Such a homogenous environment not only has allowed for the
spread of fake news, but it has also signicantly impeded intercultural communication
within the American society. The same can be said of Poland, where the way people use
media largely depends on their political aliations.
Another media factor that impedes intercultural communication in Poland is the weak
position of the minority media. It must be observed that despite the growing importance
of online media, minority media still inhabit a marginal place in the public sphere. Al-
though the majority of those national and ethnic minorities which are recognised by
the Polish authorities publish their own press titles often with the nancial support of
the government – their scope is rather limited (Mieczkowski 2012). Such is the case with
the press magazines published by the Roma people or the Polish Tatars (Wasilewski
2013). Moreover, their content focuses on history and tradition, refraining from taking ac-
tive part in contemporary public discussion (Wasilewski 2018). Other minorities, including
sexual minorities, must solely rely on social media to communicate their ideas to general
public. With such visible disparities, the chance of a fair intercultural communication to
occur remains questionable.
Hate speech and the construction of identity
The above mentioned list of media factors is not exhaustive and includes only the
most basic ones. Still, they allow to indicate, how media can reinforce or impede inter-
cultural communication. With the public debate moving from “traditional” media, such as
radio, press and television, to the “new media”, such as the internet, there is little doubt
that also the success or failure of intercultural communication is decided in realm of
the world wide web. On the one hand, the widespread access to the internet and the
relative ease of establishing one’s presence there have allowed for the democratization
of public sphere. What was once reserved for the elites, now is available for the masses
(Avritzer 2002: p. 29). On the other hand, the internet, most notably social media, has
defragmented public sphere and, consequently, has deepened political polarisation.
This, as it has already been mentioned, can be regarded as one of the main obstacles to
intercultural communication. As Christopher S. Josey (2010: p. 37) points out, “the internet
in general represents one of the few spaces of extremely divergent opinions on race,
politics and society. As a decentralised media, controlled by the end user, it has allowed
a resurgence in the solidarity and power building of hate-based groups.
There is little doubt that in an atmosphere of strong political polarisation, it is ex-
tremely dicult for intercultural communication to occur, let alone in the form of intercul-
tural dialogue. According to the denition provided by the Council of Europe, intercultural
Krzysztof Wasilewski
dialogue is “a process that comprises an open and respectful exchange of interaction
between individuals, groups, organizations with dierent cultural backgrounds or world-
views” (Council of Europe 2008: p. 10). Such a dialogue is possible only in a balanced
media environment where all groups (political, ethnic, minority etc.) have equal status
and equal access to. With media users living in information bubbles and the appearance
of defragmented, “emotional” public spheres, intercultural dialogue easily gives way to
hate speech. As a result, the possibility of building a collective identity on the idea of
multiculturalism is put into question. Instead, separate groups within the society use their
own media to establish and promote their own identities while downgrading the others.
Whereas intercultural dialogue draws from the logic of collective action, hate speech
relies on connective action (Bennett, Segerberg 2012). In their studies, Lance Bennett
and Alexandra Segerberg remind us that “when people express views online, they do not
need to be part of a formal organisation. By sharing links or posting comments, they are
already engaging in political activity”. This thesis takes from the fact that hate speech has
a high uniting potential, since the victimization of one’s own group and dehumanization
of others answer one’s basic needs and feelings. As Matous Hrdina (2016: p. 39) argues,
“many dierent frustrations and grievances can be answered by hate speech against
a chosen scapegoat, without further identication with other hate speech produc-
ers. Furthermore, hate speech could be perceived as a specic form of civic activism”.
The very nature of social media allows individual users – whether a professional journalist
or an amateur – to public their own opinions, even the very radical ones. Such posts
often attract attention from other like-minded users and, by consequence, form a certain
collective identity. In other words, hate speech feeds on the “network society”. Manuel
Castells who coined that term, observes that “mobile phone networks become trust
networks, and the content transmitted through them gives rise to empathy in the mental
processing of the message. From mobile phone networks and networks of trust emerge
networks of resistance prompting mobilization against an identied target” (Castells 2013:
p. 348). Remembering that, it is thus hardly surprising that hate speech is often used in
identity discourses. In addition to this, the rise of social media and their anonymity – or
rather immunity to critique – have reinforced the role of hate speech in the construction
of group identity. As Julie Seaman (2008: p. 121) suggests, since “the identication with
a social group tends to foster attitudes and behaviors consonant with the norms of the
particular group”, then “attitudes, behaviors, and group identication can be primed by
features in the social and physical environment.”
Hate speech as an element of identity politics
The majority of studies on defamatory language and the formation of collective
identity focus on radical right discourses. Although hate speech is not limited to only
one side of the political spectrum, it is various nationalist, anti-Semitic and racist groups
that most often build their identity in opposition to others. However, the contemporary
history abounds in examples of how state authorities attempted to build national unity
Hate speech and identity politics. An intercultural communication perspective 183
through dissemination of hate speech. Nazi Germany (1933–1945) is only the most strik-
ing one. As Yared Legesse Mengistu (2012: p. 360) reminds us, in Hitler’s Germany, hate
speech “led to the disfranchisement, imprisonment, and genocide of Jews”. There is little
doubt that one of the leading role in inaming anti-Semitic passions in 1930s Germany
was played by the Nazi press and radio, which constructed radically negative picture of
Jews among the German society. The similar method was adopted by the state RTLM
Rwanda radio in 1994. In their paper on the RTLM radio broadcasts, Brittnea Roozen and
Hillary C. Shulman (2014) pointed out that “the language used to describe the Tutsis was
increasingly dehumanising, and that Hutus were often posited as the victims. Broadcasts
that were originally targeted at the Tutsi-led RPF were extended to all Tutsis in Rwanda
as the genocide escalated.In response to the RTLM broadcasts, the United Nations
International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda recognised hate speech as a crime against
humanity (Biju-Duval 2007: p. 348). One of the latest examples of how media can use hate
speech to build a group identity took place in August 2018. It was then that the Myanmar
state authorities orchestrated a hate campaign in social media against the country’s
Muslim minority – Rohingya. According to Reuters, “more than 1,000 examples of posts,
comments and pornographic images attacking the Rohingya and other Muslims on
Facebook” were recorded in a matter of few days (Stecklow 2018). The acts of violence,
which erupted after the online campaign, forced over 700,000 Rohingya to ee Myanmar
(Mozur 2018).
What the aforementioned examples have in common is the vast engagement of
media to construct group identity through conict rather than dialogue. People were
mobilised by hate speech, which allowed media to quickly identify the enemy and estab-
lish the core characteristics of own group. Without a doubt such a strategy succeeded
in developing collective identity, since both in Nazi Germany, 1994 Rwanda and 2018
Myanmar, ethnic majorities – encouraged by the media – attacked minorities. It must
be remembered that although at rst media hate campaigns aimed at ethnic minorities,
later they excluded from the group identity other minorities as well, including political
and sexual ones. As some researchers point out, political elites are most prone to use
media to disseminate hate speech in the times of crises. By dehumanising minorities,
politicians – especially populists – manage to veer people’s attention e.g. from economic
issues to ethnic issues. Bernard Rorke, for example, writes that common features of pop-
ulism include “authentic anger, unrestrained hatred of the elites, cultural conservatism,
euro skepticism, declared nationalism, and undeclared xenophobia” (Rorke 2015: p. 240).
In such a dense atmosphere of political polarization, it is very dicult for intercul-
tural dialogue to prosper. On the contrary, while the idea of multiculturalism broadly
and inclusively denes identity, demanding that people at least tolerate one another,
hate speech focuses on ethnic and cultural exclusivity. In other words, in the times when
people need simple answers, hate speech seems to oer them. As Teresa Koide (2017:
p. 166) puts it simple, “when you observe behavior that you nd unsettling, something
deep-rooted inside of you reacts”. This brings us back to the already introduced thought
of Alain Touraine, who underlines that in order to engage in intercultural communication
Krzysztof Wasilewski
one needs to reach out of one’s group. His thought is further developed by Iris Marion
Young who claims that “a theory of democratic inclusion requires and expanded con-
ception of political communication if participants in political discussion are to achieve
understanding, to resolve problems and ultimately to make proposals that shape new
agendas” (Young 2000: p. 56). Hate speech, on the other hand, discourages people from
leaving their own group by presenting those outside as the “dangerous others”.
It must be remembered that constructing collective identity through hate speech
may take less direct forms that in Nazi Germany or contemporary Myanmar. State
authorities may pretend to ght with hate speech in public discourse in order to curb
dissident voices from various minorities. In her paper on identity politics in Germany, Ann
Goldberg writes about Prussia’s 1794 law code that “banned expression of incitement
against the state and against certain religious groups, as well as speech that dishonored
individuals” (Goldberg 2015: p. 483). Interestingly at around the same time, similar laws
were introduced in the United States (Wasilewski 2017). In Goldberg’s opinion, “anti-hate
speech” laws were part of class politics and at rst restrained popular resentment against
the monarchy and state authorities. Later, however, a shift from class to ethnicity could
be observed. State authorities began to use special laws to control ethnic minorities,
since every attempt to publicly voice their discontent was labelled as hate speech.
As it turns out, “anti-hate speech” laws impeded intercultural dialogue as much as hate
speech itself. Even more, they served the same purpose, as forbidding minorities from
accessing public sphere not only excluded them from public discussion but also allowed
state authorities to build an exclusive identity based on ethnicity and race.
The widespread access to the internet has allowed for new ways of communica-
tion to develop. Whereas until the “internet explosion” there was a clear division into the
author of a message and its receiver, now the very structure of online media has blurred
the traditional communication triangle. As messages published online can be endlessly
edited, commented on, shared etc., the author becomes the receiver and vice versa
(Jensen 2010: p. 117). Among others, this fundamental change of how modern media
function has also aected intercultural communication. With multiplied public spheres
and information bubbles, it is more and more dicult to engage individual members of
a society in intercultural dialogue. By consequence, the very model of the multicultural
society is threatened, as it cannot exist without a strong public sphere where dierent
ideas are discussed and modied in order to reach compromise. Instead, the new media
have deepened political polarization in which hate speech has proliferated. The develop-
ment of social media and their growing position in the entire media system allows various
groups to build their separate identities, often in contradiction to other identities. Hate
speech, disseminated by media, thus performs a number of functions: it strengthens
the group identity, attracts new members, and denes and indicates enemies (often
by dehumanising them). It feeds on political polarization and the exclusivity of social
Hate speech and identity politics. An intercultural communication perspective 185
media. The proliferation of hate speech in identity politics is possible due to the fact
that it engages people in connective action, whereas intercultural communication re-
quires a more demanding collective action. From this perspective, hate speech is both
a by-product of political polarisation and the one of its causes. By consequence it poses
a serious challenge to intercultural communication, which can occur only in the stable
environment of inclusive politics, and multicultural society as well.
Krzysztof Wasilewski – habilitated doctor, an assistant professor at the Faculty of Humanities,
Koszalin University of Technology. He was among others on scholarships at the University of
Michigan (2018), Cambridge University (2017), Freie Universität Berlin (2016) and the Roosevelt
Institute for American Studies in Middelburg, Holland (2015). He is interested in intercultural com-
munication, migration discourses, ethnic media and American media system.
Krzysztof Wasilewski dr habilitowany, adiunkt na Wydziale Humanistycznym Politechniki
Koszalińskiej; stypendysta University of Michigan (2018), Cambridge University (2017), Freie
Universität w Berlinie (2016) oraz Roosevelt Institute for American Studies w Middelburgu, Holandia
(2015) Interesuje się komunikowaniem międzykulturowym, dyskursami migracyjnymi, mediami
mniejszości narodowych oraz amerykańskim systemem medialnym.
Adres e-mail:
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... Evidence shows that holding strong affectively polarised and extremist positions is mostly caused by obtaining news from social media (Nguyen & Vu, 2019). In particular, when there is a strong link between identity and a political position, it is more likely for discourse to lead to the use of othering and hate speech (Wasilewski, 2019). The discourses within these spaces often represent a rejection of political correctness and reflect a raw emotional response towards a target deemed as the "other" (Hamed, 2020). ...
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... In Central and Eastern Europe, populism returned to the political scene at the turn of the 1990s, after the collapse of communist regimes . In this region radical reforms were introduced by political forces that based their program on the traditional ideological systems which had developed in the West over the past decades, using the "pre-socialist" political experience of their respective countries as well as renewed democratic tradition (Wasilewski, 2019) . The results of changes in the social system differed from country to country . ...
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This chapter analyzes early race thinkers and describes how the media promotes Caucasian nationalism in the Global North by packaging hate messaging. Using principles of reverse psychology and group communication, especially the Johari Window—a communication model used to understand self-disclosure and feedback and to improve a group’s relationship with other groups)—this chapter analyzes the characteristics of hate speech. It shows how social media data and IT platforms advance anti-other sentiments and an egocentric pro-nationalist agenda among Caucasian groups in the Global North, especially Germany and America. Citing television news networks and newspaper coverage of public demonstrations in Europe and America, this chapter portrays the news media establishment as leading agents of hate messaging and suggests eliminating hate speech. The chapter is inspired by the notion that harmful speech leads to lasting harm. Power structures such as the U.S. government can expedite the spread of hate speech and violence against minority populations, endorsing the movement for Caucasian Nationalism in the Global North.KeywordsNationalismCaucasianMediaHate speechBigotryRacismMisunderstandingCultural xenophobia
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This article is an attempt to seek answers to the question of whether so-called hate speech in the media constitutes a reporting of facts and reflects real social and cultural life or pursues other aims, for example: the persuasive and manipulative creation of a desired reality innate in the functioning of a commercial and persuasive media. The author attempts from the axiological perspective of the media, as well as from the semiological and linguistic perspectives, to answer the question of what the role of media language is in shaping and promoting real attitudes of hostility and hatred, and conversely, how cultural and media tendencies shape hate speech in the media. The author does not analyse the material aspect of language, but rather tries to look critically at certain trends shaping new forms of media language that bear negative values.
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Multiculturalism is an increasingly salient election issue. The growing size of many countries’ ethnic minority populations pushes parties to support multiculturalism, whereas the emergence of far-right parties in many countries pressures them to oppose it. This article examines parties’ positions on multiculturalism in a comparative context. It looks at 19 countries including most of Western Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. It argues that the influence of ethnic minorities over parties depends on electoral systems, and the strategies mainstream parties adopt in response to the far-right. The article finds that increases in ethnic minorities’ electoral strength lead parties to increase their support of multiculturalism to a greater degree in single-member district electoral systems than in proportional ones. Further, parties co-opt the anti-multicultural positions of far-right parties, and right parties do so more than left parties.
This chapter discusses the politics of multiculturalism as a kind of identity politics. It argues the concept of structural difference, as distinct from cultural group. Analysing structural difference and structural inequality, then, helps to show why these movements are not properly interpreted as identity politics. The chapter defines social structure, and more specifically structural inequality, by rebuilding elements from different accounts. Norms of inclusive communicative democracy require that claims directed at a public with the aim of persuading members of that public that injustices occur must be given a hearing, and require criticism of those who refuse to listen. Common good theorists no doubt fear that attending to group differences in public discussion endangers commitment to co-operative decision-making. Only explicit and differentiated forms of inclusion can diminish the occurrence of such refusals, especially when members of some groups are more privileged in some or many respects.
At the beginning of the 1990s S. Splichal (1994) coined the phrase “Italianization of the media” to describe the process of media change in the postcommunist world. Many other scholars in this period also compared Central European media systems to that of Italy, including A. Wyka (2008: 66) and T. Goban-Klas (1997: 40). Quoting Paolo Mancini, Goban-Klas describes the Italian media system as being dominated by the following four features: (1) state control over the media, realized in the direct control over television and indirect control over the press; (2) political party influence on the selection of topics and the structure of the media organizations; (3) a high degree of integration of the media and political elites; and (4) ethical divisions among journalists and media personnel (Mancini, 1991: 139). Goban-Klas argues that “these four characteristics of the Italian system are surprisingly close to the present situation in East-Central Europe” (1997: 40). A few years later, many scholars expanded their comparative analyses by introducing a new concept: “Mediterraneanization.” One such scholar is K. Jakubowicz (2008b: 47), who argues that former communist countries share some features with the countries grouped in the Mediterranean media system: They have undergone recent democratization, they lag in economic development, and they are characterized by a weak rational-legal authority combined with a strong direct influence of state. He adds that their modernization is incomplete or (in some cases) little advanced.