With the recent presidential election, it’s safe to say that the country hasn’t been this divided in many years. With separation comes vast differences of opinions on social movements and issues. From abortion, to planned parenthood, to immigration, to environment crises, the United States is turned upside down and butting heads with itself.
One of the major social issues relevant at this time is the Dakota Access Pipeline and Keystone XL. This has brought major strife to not only Native Americans, but many other Americans from various backgrounds across the United States. The argument that the continuation of this pipeline will bring multiple jobs and opportunities to thousands of people, others argue that the conservation and protection of the environment and rights of the Native Americans takes precedence.
This clash has led to many protests and even violent interactions between protesters and police force. As this issue has risen and become more prominent across news media outlets, the rhetoric used to convey messages has also come into the limelight. Protesters have posted pictures and videos of them falling victim to tear gas, concussion grenades, police dogs, and rubber bullets. They have taken to the internet to show what has been going on behind the scenes. I think the different pictures from the protests have proved to be powerful rhetoric that is used to their advantage. Obviously people are going to react empathetically to this. Being shot with rubber bullets is not humane. Period.
Rhetoric is also utilized in a powerful manner when celebrities, such as Shailene Woodley, are standing on the front lines with the protesters. She is utilizing her powerful and persuasive voice to stand up for what she believes in, and hopefully in turn, persuades her loyal fan base to follow her as well. A movement can only be successful if there are is a solid foundation underneath of it, driving it forward, pushing it to be resilient. Shailene Woodley has aided this by doing multiple Facebook Live videos, encouraging viewers to donate warm clothing for the protesters, and even being arrested for her efforts.
From pictures of toddlers on their parents’ shoulders holding a sign that says “No DAPL” or “Water is life” to the picture of a cloud of tear gas billowing into the sky while people cover their eyes and heads – this rhetoric proves powerful. Without rhetoric, this movement would not have gained the support it does today, and the government (and President Trump) would have shut these perseverant protesters down a lot sooner. Rhetoric is powerful, resourceful, and gives people life, much like water can. Ironic, isn’t it?