By Atmane Ahdach
By Atmane Ahdach
Marrakech – From the point of view of critical discourse analysis, language–be it spoken or written–is not a mere string of words exploited for communicating or transmitting information; it is a powerful tool that can be used to manipulate, indoctrinate, neutralize, express ideology, create social inequality and control people.
In this critical analysis, I will deconstruct one of the speeches given recently by Abdelilah Benkirane, the Moroccan head of government, in reponse to the violent intervention of the police forces to disperse teacher trainees demonstrating against the two decrees that the Ministry of Education has launched to separate training from employment. By so doing, I will bring to the surface the manipulative devices and discursive strategies Benkirane uses throughout his discourse not only to legitimize the inhuman attack of the police forces against the teacher trainees in many training centers, especially in Inezgan, but also to manipulate public opinion.
“Red herring” is a manipulative device that can be exploited in order to divert the attention of the interlocutor from the real issue by orienting him/her to another irrelevant issue and thus controlling the interlocutor’s mind. Mr. Benkirane uses this device intentionally as part of his rhetorical strategy in the following excerpt, which is literally translated:
We should praise God we are in Morocco! Look at what happened […] and compare […]. Mistakes, excessive sympathy and uncounted steps lead countries and nations to disasters. Go back to the recent history!
Mr. Benkirane uses the strategy not only to divert Moroccans’ attention from the issue of the teacher trainees, but also to arouse fear by referring to the violence and instability in many countries, especially in the Arab world. Appeal to fear is also used in another context below:
Police forces who execute decisions are citizens just like you and when you are sleeping in your houses, they secure your safety.
Poisoning the well
“Poisoning the well” is also a dangerous manipulative device. It simply means to give adverse information about someone to the audience, thereby transmitting a distorted image of that person. Attempting to make more acceptable his claim that the inhuman attack of the police forces on the teacher trainees was legitimate, Mr. Benkirane discounts the assertion that the teacher trainees’ demonstration was peaceful:
We are against using force when it is unjustifiable, but we are also against those who violate the law.
The implication is that the teacher trainees violated the law, which pushed the police forces to intervene and disperse the demonstrators. The statement wrongly represents the teacher trainees as people who threaten the stability of the country; hence, suppressing them is legitimate. This is a very weak argument, as the teacher trainees’ demonstration was peaceful and did not need to be suppressed.
A “euphemism” is a statement, expression, or word that replaces others so as to mitigate their intensity and seriousness. Benkirane resorts to euphemism to falsify the severely exaggerated suppression of the teacher trainees, especially the bloodshed of the Inezgan incident. This is highlighted by his use of the expression, “inappropriate force.”
In this connection, Mr. Benkirane frees from blame those who inflicted violence on the teacher trainees, thereby violating Article 22 of the Moroccan constitution, which strongly forbids “touching the moral or physical safety of any person in any circumstance by any party.”
Mr. Benkirane’s speech is laden with many fallacies and many strategic devices that are, for sure, used intentionally to manipulate and brainwash Moroccans about the teacher trainees’ issue. This issue deserves dialogue and reasonable solutions for improving our education, which is already lagging behind. Any reforms without giving teachers the real status they deserve will be a total fiasco, as teachers are the central axis of any educational system. Alas! Our wise “decision makers” resort to brutality and suppression, thinking that it will put an end to the issue, but they forget that pressure generates explosion.
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