In my previous Burkean analysis of the 2008 “Statement on Race,” I concluded that this most recent statement is outside the usual contemporary ecclesiastical apologia, but instead rhetorically represents a Lost Cause duel in the romantic tradition of the code duello. Kenneth Burke’s own conservative irritant, Richard Weaver in Southern Tradition at Bay both describes and prescribes the rhetoric of the Lost Cause. His drama is a romance caught at a potentially tragic crisis point. The old rules of chivalry drive the action or rather reaction.
While the 2000 and 2008 statements are actual rhetorical duels in the drama of Southern romance, these texts in this study from the 50s-70s are spoken to those silent dependents. And, of course, Weaver, stuck in his own Lost Cause reverie, offers little theoretical vocabulary to understand this discourse to the silent but loyal dependents.
Kenneth Burke, however, rounds out our critical nomenclature. His essay “The Rhetoric of Hitler’s Battle,” in describing the Hitler’s manifesto for Aryan supremacy, aptly describes Jones’ sermon for white supremacy. What Weaver admires as “poetic,” Burke dismantles as tragic.
In Burke’s analysis, he concludes that Hitler unifies Germany with all its discordant “folkish” groups under his singular voice, pointing to a singular place (Munich) and elevating a singular blood myth (Aryan). With one voice at play, “hate” can easily be coded as “love” (for Aryans), tyranny can become “German democracy,” and economic problems have noneconomic causes.
Unifying into one inner voice, feminizing the masses, projecting all ills on an external and disposable enemy, and “humbling” to a racial superiority—Burkean scholars know these tropes well. And they are nearly perfectly expressed in the Bob Jones University texts on race.