“Dog whistling”, or “dog whistle politics” is a relatively new term that’s emerged in politics over the past decade or so. It refers to the art of calling up your supporters and getting them riled up by using subtly coded language that appeals to their baser instincts.
I’ve used it recently and it’s riled up some readers who are not sympathetic to EM.
The wikipedia entry on dog whistling is quite interesting and suggests that the tactic and the terminology originated in Australia during the Howard years. The most famous case was the “We’ll decide who comes to this country and under what conditions” speech the then Prime Minister made during the 2001 federal election.
Dog-whistle politics, also known as the use of code words, is a type of political campaigning or speechmaking employing coded language that appears to mean one thing to the general population but has a different or more specific meaning for a targeted subgroup of the audience. The term is usually used pejoratively by those that do not approve of the tactics. According to blogger Ian Welsh,
When you speak in code(…), most of the time the only people who hear and understand what you just said are the intended group, who have an understanding of the world and a use of words that is not shared by the majority of the population.
(Hat tip to Mr B)
It is a favoured strategem of the cultural warriors too – those public intellectuals who insist on demagogic rhetoric, rather than rational debate.
It has overtones of Cold War imagery too and now sits very well in the Terror Frame – the viewing of all world events, history and politics through the muddied lens of anti-Islamic vilification.
Dog whistling is fundamentally dishonest.
I’ve put this definition up so that you might better understand these posts and the related comment threads.