Determining Power in a Name

Courtesy+of+Jim+Lo+Scalzo%2FEPA
Courtesy of Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA

Courtesy of Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA

Courtesy of Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA

Hannah N. '17, Webmaster

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In recent weeks, the argument over how titles published in the media give legitimacy to or take legitimacy from groups that see themselves as undeserving of the title.

The movement self-proclaimed as the “alt-right,” standing for alternative right-wing, has come under criticism for its member’s subtle and overt messages of racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, and ethno-nationalism. With Donald Trump’s election as President, the group has been given increasing publicity in major news outlets, and with the reporting of the group has come criticism by those who oppose the movement. By calling it so, the opposition believes it provides the group legitimacy and verifies their member’s hate speech. Proposed alternative names include “neo-Nazis” and “White nationalists.”

Multiple newspapers and media corporations have responded to the social upheaval over the use of the term, publishing memos or editorials on their online sites or print papers about their decision on the use of alt-right. The Guardian published an editorial declaring it would not ban the term, but instead writes the term with single quotes surrounding it, similar to the Los Angeles Times. NPR received major backlash for covering the group in excess, and has decided to refer to it as the “self-described alt-right” or follow the term with the identifier “white nationalists.”

In a similar way, the reporting on the clashes surrounding the creation of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Those for the oil pipeline wish to call the opposition “protesters,” while the group against the building of the pipeline prefer the term “protectors.”

In a video by TeenVogue, a member of the Lakota tribe says, “We don’t use the word ‘protest’ because it activates their laws,” referring to the US Government.

A voiceover also defends the people staying on the land meant for construction, saying, “They say they are protestors, they are not. They’re peaceful protectors of Mother Earth and the water.”

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