Hyperbole is a natural bedfellow of politics, which makes liberal use of rhetorical devices. Exaggeration is effective. It stimulates emotional responses, again, something politicians must do if they are to capture your vote.
Notwithstanding, it still seems like we’re in a particularly hyperbolic age. It’s all about extremes now – actions and reactions alike.
Here are three instances we recently observed — all within the realm of politics but each about a totally different topic.
1. On April 26, Donald Trump called for a review of national monument designations. To be sure, not everyone supports such a review, but does it deserve this reaction: “Polis speaks out against the vilification of national monuments,” which was the headline of the press release Rep. Polis’ office sent following Trump’s announcement.
Rep. Polis doesn’t come off as a pure ideologue, so this over-the-top reaction surprised us. We can’t see how calling for a review of something equates to a vilification of something, making this a quintessential example of hyperbole.
2. “I’m Secular Now. Are My Religious Zionist Rebbes My New Enemies?” This utterly confounding headline comes courtesy of the Forward. The logic that people with different views on religion are enemies is repugnant. So is the use of the emotive word ‘hate’ to describe an ideological disagreement.
Another example of hyperbole, this time with the intention not of capturing your vote, but of making you click. Yes, folks, hyperbole feeds clickbait, another reason it is becoming insidious. (In this case, the headline was so off-putting, the Forward actually missed out on our click.)
3. The final example, which is also featured on our editorial page this week, comes courtesy an Irish politician, who described the life of Palestinians as “apartheid, worse than South Africa.” Most Palestinians do no currently live under Israel rule, so while they might not have their own country, it certainly isn’t like apartheid South Africa. A quick visit to Ramallah would put that conspiracy theory to rest.
Then there’s the news story that dominating this week: James Comey’s firing. While there is certainly a fair bit amount of extremely rapid very strongly worded reaction, whether this crosses into the line of hyperbole is too early to say. With the president’s official reasoning for firing Comey somewhat doubtful, this story might be the real deal, extreme reactions notwithstanding.