Professor Michael Waltman gave the 2017 Keynote Address at the Southern States Communication Associate (SSCA).
The title of Professor Waltman’s address was “The New Era of Hate: How We Arrived Here and How We Should Talk to Our Students and to One Another.” Dr. Waltman argues that we find ourselves in a new social space in which hatred has been mainstreamed in ways that exceed anything we have seen in the recent past. Using his research as a lens to understand how we arrived at this new era of hate, Waltman describes how discourses that surrounded the 2008 and 2012 Presidential Election served to “otherize” President Obama laid the groundwork for the new era of hate. Specific discourses involved: (a) how right wing media portrayed Obama, (b) how Democratic and Republican politicians discussed the possibility of an African American president, and (c) the Birther Movement. He argues further that we entered the new era of hate during the 2016 Presidential Election when the 45th President began his campaign by vilifying undocumented workers from Mexico and Muslims. This discourse served to embed hatred in the democratic institutions that preserve our Republic, placing our democracy at risk. We entered the new era of hate when White Supremacist endorsed and campaigned for the 45th president. Finally, Waltman argues that we should respond to the new era of hate with a radical form of empathy that allows us to find unity and community in our differences.