Don't Think of an Elephant book on framing by George Lakoff
Rockridge Institute Reframing public debate


Bush and his supporters often silence opposition and dissent by encoding in their arguments a worldview that implies that even to challenge Bush's ideas is immoral and damaging to the social order, and even to the survival of the nation and of Western Civilization. Linguists call this device the lost performative. The speaker purposely leaves out the authority behind far-reaching statements in order to pass off controversial viewpoints as the absolute truth. When Bush says "Our cause is just," he purposely leaves out the "according to whom?"... The underlying message from the authoritarian leader is, Do exactly as I say, or catastrophe follows... persistent suggestions that anyone who expressed reservations about detentions, say, or military tribunals, was at some level 'against' America... absolutist language overloads people with information and leaves them confused and unable to judge for themselves. They crave simplicity and fall back on the character myth" (Renana Brooks. "The Character Myth." The Nation, Dec. 29, 2003: 25-28).

"...New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. "Iraq has been reframed from a story about Iraqi 'insurgents' trying to liberate their country from American occupiers and their Iraqi 'stooges' to a story of the overwhelming Iraqi majority trying to build a democracy, with US help, against the wishes of Iraqi Baathist-fascists and jihadists." This new story is so contagious, we are told, that it has set off a domino effect akin to the fall of the Berlin wall and the collapse of Communism. (Although in the "Arabian Spring," the only wall in sight--Israel's apartheid wall--pointedly stays up.)

"As with all branding campaigns, the power is in the repetition, not in the details... an empty marketing exercise" (Naomi Klein. "Can Democracy Survive Bush's Embrace?" The Nation, March 28, 2005: 11).

" matter how compelling such messages may seem, recipients filter them through a pre-existing mesh of views and values--accepting, adjusting, resisting or rejecting incoming exhortations, depending on how they comport with previously accumulated information and attitudes' (Mike Wallace. "All the World Is Green." The Nation, April 18, 2005: 25).

"The lesson must be that votes like these are won by those who frame the debate" ("Europe on the edge." Guardian Weekly, May 27-June 2, 2005: 3).

"The materialists view the marketplace as the critical social institution and primary arbiter of human relations... "Rather, markets and governments are extensions of the culture. They are secondary, not primary, institutions. They exist by the grace of the cultures that create them...

" all liberation movements, the first prerequisites for re-asserting its prominence is casting out much of the language that has come to define its very being. Advocates complain that the civil society is not "the third sector", as many academicians claim, but rather the first sector. Similarly, categorizing civil society groups as "not-for-profit organizations" or "nongovernmental organizations" makes them appear as less significant or even just shadows of commercial or governmental institutions. A new generation of activists prefer to think of their institutions as civil society organizations (CSOs). They also define their activity as service rather than volunteering, to connote its importance in developing and reproducing the culture" (Jeremy Rifkin. The European Union. pp. 235-237)...

Colby Glass, MLIS