Harlot is a publication about rhetoric and persuasion published out of Ohio State University’s English graduate program. They’ve got a great post up reviewing the book, and discussing the power of language in demonizing dissent.
Tim Jensen writes:
Regardless of where you stand with regard to environmentalism or monkey-wrenching, it’s nevertheless important to understand how the term terror is being specifically deployed in an age increasingly defined by such a label…
Use of the “eco-terrorist” label picks up substantially throughout the nineties, especially following the well-reported arson of a Vail ski resort in 1998. It was 9/11, however, as the phrase goes, that changed everything. Greg Walden, a Republican Representative from Oregon said on September 12 that the Earth Liberation Front was a threat “no less heinous than what we saw occur yesterday here in Washington and New York.” Before the steel of the towers had even stopped smoldering, “Industry groups hired PR firms to insert eco-terrorism into the national security dialogue,” writes Potter. Since 9/11, “the eco-terror language went viral, replicating by spreading from host to host.”
But this is not a conspiracy, Potter is right to point out. It’s framing. It’s the introduction of and normalizing of key terms that shape attitudes and perspectives.