Breathe the Breath

April 2, 2017




In the United States at the present time, fear of the other is perhaps more powerful than it’s been in recent memory. We hear people demean others who look different, act different, or think different. National rhetoric urges us to be afraid of “radical Islamic terrorism,” or to be suspicious about “enemies of the people,” or to blame “illegal” immigrants. This language is designed to make us think that if we can just put the radicals, the enemies, and the illegals in their place, then the nation will be magically become a better place for the rest of us.

This kind of rhetoric is not new. For thousands of years, national leaders have used similar speech in an attempt to drum up popular support for nationalist policies. Take the phrase “enemy of the people.” National leaders in ancient Rome used this phrase to demean the opposition. So did national leaders during the French Revolution in the late 1700s. In the early years of the Soviet Union, the communist leader Vladimir Lenin used this phrase “enemies of the people” as a justification for bringing charges against his political opponents. In the last one hundred years alone, people have used this phrase as a slur against Russian czars, rebellious subjects, Jews, and imperialists.[1] In extreme cases, leaders use such language to justify getting rid of whole classes of people.

[1] Marc Fisher, “The Terms Trump and Bannon Use: A Glossary,” The Washington Post, March 9, 2017,, accessed March 10, 2017.

Bible References

  • Ezekiel 37:1 - 10