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Why Silence? Anita Hill, Lani Guinier, Joycelyn Elders, Hillary Clinton, Ghazala Khan

August 1, 2016

This post starts with the epigraphs from Cheryl Glenn’s essay on the rhetoric of silence in the American political realm. She examines primarily the silences and the silencing of Anita Hill, Lani Guinier, Joycelyn Elders, and Hillary Clinton. The post ends with two recent statements of Ghazala Khan on her silence. A male who seems not to have read either Glenn’s essay or her Qu’ran had demanded the following of her, saying, “If you look at his wife, she was standing there. She had nothing to say. She probably — maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say. You tell me.”

The silences, the empty spaces, the language itself, with its excision of the female, the methods of discourse tell us as much as the content, once we learn to watch for what is left out, to listen for the unspoken, to study the patterns of established science and scholarship with an outsider’s eye. -Adrienne Rich

Because everything would be unsayable. Speech consists above all in silences. -Jose Ortega y Gassett

I was going to die, if not sooner then later, whether or not I had ever spoken myself. My silences had not protected me. Your . silence will not protect you. -Audre Lorde

I speak, but I cannot be heard. Worst, I am heard but I am not believed. Worse yet, I speak but I am not deemed believable. -Jacqueline Jones Royster

I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood. -Audre Lorde

The Hill-Thomas hearing … was about finding our voices and breaking the silence forever. -Anita Hill

The liberatory voice … is characterized by opposition, by resistance. It demands that paradigms shift-that we learn to talk-to listen-to hear in a new way. -bell hooks

Everything we write will be used against us or against those we love. These are the terms, take them or leave them. -Adrienne Rich

It doesn’t matter what you think. Words are found responsible all you can do is choose them or choose to remain silent. -Adrienne Rich

I have been compelled on too many occasions to count to sit as a well-mannered Other, silently, … while colleagues who occupy a place of entitlement … have comfortably claimed the authority to engage in the construction of knowledge and meaning about me…. -Jacqueline Jones Royster

It is not the case that a man who is silent says nothing. -Anonymous

Silence is a game of dodgeball at dusk A matter of time ’til someone knocks you out Of the circle of bodies. -Robin Becker

Silence and obedience to authority were not rewarded. -bell hooks

When you are silent, it speaks; When you speak, it is silent. -Tseu

Moving from silence into speech is for the oppressed, the colonized, the exploited, and those who stand and struggle side by side, a gesture of defiance that heals, that makes new life and new growth possible. -bell hooks

Let a woman learn in silence with all submissiveness. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over men; she is to keep silent. – [neither the Qur’an nor the Hadith but rather the Christian New Testament’s] I Tim. 2:11-12

The last time I spoke to my son was on Mother’s Day 2004. –  Ghazala Khan

Because without [my] saying a thing, all the world, all America, felt my pain. I am a Gold Star mother. Whoever saw me felt me in their heart.  –  Ghazala Khan

Here’s Glenn’s essay, “Silence: A Rhetorical Art
for Resisting Discipline(s)”:

Here’s Khan’s essay, “Trump criticized my silence. He knows nothing about true sacrifice.”:

Here’s Khan speaking on her silence:

Here’s Khan’s country’s Constitution:

Here’s Khan’s Qu’ran:

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