An important subject of rhetorical criticism is the study of polarization, the process by which public opinion divides and goes to the extremes. Rhetoricians can examine how, in public discourse, opposition is constructed throughout texts, how competing choices of oppositions are put to work, or how fixed oppositions are changed into new ones. They can explore how groups are formed around certain oppositions and how different parties react to one another’s challenges and arguments. The rhetorician’s focus is often double, as both style and argument are involved in the analysis. Inspired by Perelman & Olbrechts-Tyteca, scholars of rhetoric use the intersection of style and argument as a way to typify rhetorical discourse and characterize types of practices (Perelman & Olbrechts - Tyteca 1969, 168).
A case in point for this study is the Dutch author Hafid Bouazza (born 1970), whose initial refusal to take part in public debate on matters such as intercultural relations gradually evolved into strong participation and outspoken positions. I will study a collection of his non-literary work in general, and particularly his stance toward the politically correct polarization warnings he emphatically rejects. In an evaluation of Bouazza’s own “inverted” strategy I will examine both the arguments Bouazza comes up with in his defense of polarization, and the polemical style in which he often tries to make his point. In order to obtain a better view of Bouazza’s polarization strategies, I will study his ethos and involve his personal history and the reception of his literary work in the discussion. It will appear that despite the apparent differences both in style and argument, his literary and essayistic work have more in common than first assumed, and his polarization strategies have a clear and well-defined focus.