Examining Gov. Perry’s ad “Strong” in the light of hate as identity and separateness is an eye opener since it presents the meta-definition of hate. The Texas Governor puts a wall between himself and the Other (which in his case includes homosexuals, President Obama, liberals and Moslems). Gov. Perry sets himself and “his people” apart from the Other, by denigrating the humanity of several groups of people.
Hate accomplishes two things. It dehumanizes and demonizes the Other, who then becomes your enemy. Once this happens, you can destroy them without any scruples or qualms. In contrast, the “warrior ethos” gives respect to the enemy. We see our enemy’s full humanity and accord them their honor. We may fight them, but we allow them the same rights as ours.
However, Gov. Perry, in his ad, rejects the humanity of homosexuals. As the Other, their service to their country (the same one as Gov. Perry’s) is denigrated. The sacrifices of homosexuals in preserving the Constitution that grants Gov. Perry his rights are not acknowledged. Instead, he claims that they, by openly serving their country, bar his children’s right to openly practice their religion in public schools.
Gov. Perry declares, “I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a Christian, but you don’t need to be in the pew every Sunday to know there’s something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school.” Possessing a siege mentality, he and “his people” see themselves in peril from “Them”. The subtext of the ad is that the Texas Governor will stand up to “Them”, who have endangered us and our way of life. He goes on to say, “As President, I’ll end Obama’s war on religion. And I’ll fight against liberal attacks on our religious heritage. Faith made America strong. It can make her strong again.” He uses code words for “hate” such as “war” and “attack”, and emphasizes a “Them versus Us” mentality. He portrays Christians like himself being under siege by homosexuals, liberals and President Obama (as himself and as a representative of the Moslems. (Note 2)) Gov. Perry sets himself up as a Christian warrior ready to slay the non-human Others that threaten us. These people, whom he implicates as not being Christian, are not worthy of anyone’s respect. Only Gov. Perry and “his people” and their safety are what matters.
This ad could be considered to be “hate speech”. To understand it fully, we need to decode the language in it. The words of hate do not always include that particular word but do create a wall between “Them and Us”. The sad thing about the ad is that neither Gov. Perry nor “his people” see it as hate speech but as a positive statement of the truth.
Note 1: “Strong” by Gov. Rick Perry can be found at his campaign website “Rick Perry for President”. It was broadcasted 7 December 2011.
Note 2: Various reviews of “Strong”, the ad conclude that the reference to the President is code for those who believe that President Obama is a secret Moslem.