‘Saving’ settler America: Lorien S. Jordan, Dewey Dykes, ‘”If You Don’t Fight Like Hell, You’re Not Going to Have a Country”: An Intersectional Settler Colonial Analysis of Trump’s “Save America” Speech and Other Messages of (Non)belonging’, Cultural Studies ↔ Critical Methodologies, 2022


Abstract: Donald Trump turned the presidency into a live-action reality television series comprising a chaotic blend of televised and tweeted intrigue. The nation’s collective anxiety coalesced in a nationalistic, authoritarian denouement on January 6, 2021. During Trump’s speech at the Save American Rally, he returned to familiar themes, telling the story of a ravaged America and his role as its victimized hero. As Trump concluded his speech urging supporters to “fight like hell,” rioters assailed the U.S. capitol revealing the violence of colonial invasion. To understand and, thus, respond to the insurrection, we must first recognize the dominant structures that create the conditions of its perpetration and excusal. This intersectional analysis addresses the colonial impulse for violent exclusion through the interpretive framework of settler colonialism. Examining four interlocking themes, we incorporate historical and contemporary popular culture rhetorical devices to triangulate our findings. We illustrate how social identity and settler colonialism occur in popular culture at the intersections of American, Christian nationalism, racialization, hetero-genderism, and ableism. Overall, our analysis explores how Trump prepared his base through years of cultural manipulation, promoting a populist, White vision of the world with Trump symbolic of its savior. To subvert these exploitations, we must participate in their deconstruction to destabilize the power of colonial institutions.

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