Why are we silent?

Ruth Wodak ruth.wodak at UNIVIE.AC.AT
Fri Mar 28 22:15:16 UTC 2003

It is a very difficult time. My feeling is that we are (I am) very sad:
sad because I feel that the "Aufklaerung", the enlightment, has really
come to an end. NEVER AGAIN! NIE WIEDER! This was the slogan after the
Shoah. And war and genocide are happening everywhere again.
Always in differnt forms and context dependent and unique. But the NEVER
AGAIN we all believed in has long already ceased to function and to exist.
For me the new matters are not so much the old-new rhetoric, but the new
role of journalism (embedded journalists), the censorship, the media,
where we suddenly all seem to experience a virtual war, "Life at war" in
your living room. The impact of images. The debate on fotos...etc.
Showing this to students makes sense. Writing in scholarly journals about
this? And it appears years later? What is the sense?
It would rather make sense to do several things: teach, write other
genres, and do very in-depth theoretical research on the new role of media
etc. in this globalized society.
 On Fri, 28 Mar 2003, Teun A. van Dijk

> Dear friends,
> Car at s amig at s,
> Why are we so silent when a war is going on?
> Is there nothing to say, to analyze, to theorize, to criticize?
> Are we too busy, too occupied with other protests in the streets, among
> millions of others?
> Is there enough dissident discourse in the streets, in the media or on
> the internet? Do we have nothing to add to that?
> Is any critique too obvious, too straightforward?
> Maybe, indeed, one need not be a critical linguist or discourse analyst
> to understand, analyze and criticize what is going on, since the abuse of
> power has seldom been so arrogant and blatant?
> Before the war we were bombarded with words from politicians who were
> eager to bomb people with real bombs. Now, during the war, we are
> bombarded with words that legitimate, prettify, deny or lie about the
> bombs and their "collateral damage". That is, before, during and after
> the bombs, there are always even more discourses that surround them. Do
> these discourses not deserve extensive analysis? Do we really understand
> what is going on? Do we know how our minds are managed by the discourses
> of war? Do we know all their structures and strategies?
> The war and this conflict has been prepared was a long time. But where
> are the papers for DISCOURSE & SOCIETY that critically analyze the
> discourses that accompanied this build-up?
> There are vast domains of discourse that beg exploring; complex
> analytical issues to be dealt with at the crossroads of many disciplines;
> fascinating theorical roads to explore; some serious questions, if not
> some answers, to formulate for those who have less insight in discourse
> and communication, in persuasion and manipulation, than we are supposed
> to have. Do we have not even some initial things to say about all that?
> Or is real war only about arms, and armies, and bombs and killing,
> engaged in when words ("diplomacy") are declared useless by those whose
> arrogant power is only based on arms and armies? If war is where words
> fail, does discourse analysis become superfluous?
> Or is our only hope and future against arms and armies the counter-power
> of talk and text, of negotation, of conflict resolution, of analysis and
> fundamental understanding, of persuading world opinions, attitudes and
> ideologies that finally will grow so strong that it will, forever, take
> the toys from the boys?
> Will our dissident and analytical discourses be so strong that after this
> war we will be able to say, and repeat, and repeat, and repeat: NEVER
> AGAIN !!  ?
> Will our discourses and their analysis be able to change the world such
> that we finally will be able to leave the primitive stage of having and
> using arms and armies instead of waging wars only with words?
> When will our discourses be able to retire all military and send all arms
> to the museum?
> How much text and talk does it take to change the minds of world opinion
> in such a way that arms, armies, and their violence, become dirty words?
> Why is "pacifism" still a dirty or a dubious word?
> Who is interested in post-modernism, when we apparently are still living
> in the pre-modern times of the right of might?
> Is Critical Discourse Analysis -- or any critical academic study --
> asleep? Or do we simply have nothing interesting to offer?
> Do we remain silent even when hundreds --and soon thousands-- of human
> beings, women, men, children, die gruesome deaths?
> Could our silence be interpreted as acceptance or acquiescence -- as
> suggested by the Latin proverb Qui tacet, consentit ?
> Are there too many other lists against the war where we are publishing
> our critical analyses?
> Does this list -- literally-- make sense?
> What more do I need to say to provoke serious contributions to this list,
> articles for DISCOURSE & SOCIETY or ideas for books?
> Should I be "moderator" of a list when it is no time to be "moderate"?
> Shall I become "activator", "provocator", "challenger"?
> What do you all have to say?
> Peace. Paz. Salaam.
> Teun
> ___________________________
> Teun A. van Dijk
> Universitat Pompeu Fabra
> Departament de Traducció i Filologia
> La Rambla 32
> 08002 Barcelona, Spain
> E-mail: teun at discourse-in-society.org
> Internet: www.discourse-in-society.org

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