The first politics forum of the fall semester featured John Landreau, associate professor of women’s and gender studies, on Thursday, Sept. 13 in the Social Science Building room 241. His lecture was titled “The President and the Prophet: A Comparison of the War Rhetoric of Bush and Bin Laden.”
Landreau focused on the similarities and differences between President George W. Bush and Osama Bin Laden’s oratorical styles.
Bush’s rhetoric focuses on a “crusade against evil,” and is fashioned like a “mythological hero narrative,” Landreau said.
Landreau drew laughs from the audience when he reminded them of Bush’s assertion that terrorists hate America because of our freedom.
According to Landreau, this shows that Bush appeals to ethics and emotions when he says that America is on the side of morality and those who are not with America are on the terrorists’ side.
Bin Laden, on the other hand, paints a more religious story, calling himself a “messenger of God.”
According to Landreau, Bin Laden uses more logic than Bush, giving historical examples and cause and effect reasoning in his oratory. Bin Laden bases his criticisms of America on its support for Israel, dependency on Middle Eastern oil and war against Afghanistan and Iraq. However, he is not the perfect speaker, as he never talks about the future for Jihad and often repeats himself.
The two speakers are similar in that they both “long for power,” Landreau said. Both Bush and Bin Laden take on authoritative tones in their speeches.
Landreau said his presentation on Bin Laden was not as strong as his Bush presentation due to the lack of text on Bin Laden’s speeches.
To rectify differences, the United States should “empathize with the enemy,” Landreau said. Bin Laden’s words should be more accessible and people should be knowledgeable about what he says.
“Bin Laden is definitely the more eloquent narrator but probably not for a non-Muslim audience,” Landreau said, adding that this is due to his talks about Islam.
As for Bush’s speeches dealing with God’s guidance of America, “If he makes a war or solves the problem of poverty, it should be about politics. I think church and state should be separate and I don’t think Bush should be talking about God,” Landreau said.
Landreau has been studying this topic for about a year and a half and hopes to speak more about this subject in the future.
The political forum is an “informal college talk-time series open to everyone,” Miriam Lowi, associate professor of political science, said.
The next political forum is scheduled for Sept. 27, featuring Moussa Sow, assistant professor of modern languages. The topic will be “Democracy and Stability in Senegal: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back.”