Power Besieged and Power Protected’: Conservative Uses of COVID-19 to Attack Black Lives Matter

Journal article


Holloway, D. 2023. Power Besieged and Power Protected’: Conservative Uses of COVID-19 to Attack Black Lives Matter . European Journal of American Culture . 42 (1), pp. 61-82. https://doi.org/10.1386/ejac_00088_1
AuthorsHolloway, D.
Abstract

This essay discusses uses of COVID-19 by American conservatives to attack the legitimacy of demonstrations against racial injustice in the United States following the murder of George Floyd. The essay considers the conflation of COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter in journalism published by conservative media organization The Daily Wire, situating its reportage within a tradition of conservative movement racial politics from Barry Goldwater to Donald Trump. During summer 2020, conservative responses to COVID-19 expanded the discursive spheres in which racialized conflict played out, exemplifying the diffuse and pervasive nature of White backlash politics in contemporary movement conservatism and the continuity of that discourse with patterns established during earlier periods of civil rights struggle. After Floyd’s murder, conservative voices utilized COVID-19 as a racialized wedge, dividing those Americans characterized as authentic and deserving citizens from civil rights protestors and their supporters whose actions were presented as subversive of the legitimate body politic. The essay shows how these treatments of COVID-19 sit within conservative ‘dog whistle’ traditions of the later twentieth century – massaging White resentments without appearing to talk explicitly about race – while simultaneously, in a rhetoric characteristic of the post-Tea Party alt-Right, openly disclosing the politics of racial polarization and exclusion such traditions were once intended to obfuscate or encode.

KeywordsConservatism; Black Lives Matter; COVID-19; Republican Party
Year2023
JournalEuropean Journal of American Culture
Journal citation42 (1), pp. 61-82
PublisherIntellect
ISSN1758-9118
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1386/ejac_00088_1
Web address (URL)https://intellectdiscover.com/content/journals/10.1386/ejac_00088_1
https://www.intellectbooks.com/european-journal-of-american-culture
Accepted author manuscript
License
All rights reserved
File Access Level
Controlled
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online24 Apr 2023
Publication process dates
Accepted17 Jun 2022
Deposited03 Apr 2023
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https://repository.derby.ac.uk/item/9xz12/power-besieged-and-power-protected-conservative-uses-of-covid-19-to-attack-black-lives-matter

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