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The contemporary landscape of American conservative politics is one largely marred by visceral appeals to emotion. Phrases such as “grooming” have become a staple of modern conservative media, capable of evoking strong negative emotions and falsely portraying groups such as non-LGBT individuals, white individuals, Christians, and especially children as under threat. This research seeks to explore the evolution of how this language has been utilized to create a sense of “selective empathy” in American conservatives, with particular emphasis on the cultural shift surrounding the 2016 presidential election. Through analysis of the works of multiple conservative figures, think tanks, and media outlets, this paper will provide an explorative deep-dive into the manipulative nature of how language is used to foster selective empathy in contemporary American conservative politics.



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On Grooming: Fostering Selective Empathy Through Language in American Conservative Media