Tag Archives: resist and persist

Beware of Propaganda

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Crossroads block #4

You have possibly heard or even seen, Kellyanne Conway (trying to justify Trump’s ban on refugees) give American People ‘brand new information’ on Presidents Obama 6 month ban on Iraq refugee program after two Iraqi refugees masterminded the ‘Bowling Green massacre’. There were two lies in this statement. First one about Obama’s 6 month refugee ban which is not true (this has been repeatedly stated by the administration since Trump signed his ban last weekend. It has been debunked so many times I will not go into that here.), and then the second one about the massacre that never happened. She has since admitted that she was mistaken, not apologizing but immediately going into offense pointing to mistakes media has made in covering Trump (the report that MLK bust was removed from the Oval Office, which was wrong and for which the reporter has **apologized**. Note the difference.) She also said she meant to say “Bowling Green terrorists”. Try to replace “bowling Green Massacre” in her sentence with “Bowling Green Terrorists” in the statement she made and you can see it does not make sense.

But even though she said she was mistaken, it does’t really matter. The damage was done. She said what she meant to say to the public she meant to say it to. That’s the very basics of propaganda. She knows that there are people who will not listen to this, and will recognize it for what it is, but she is talking to the less critical, going directly for their feelings to create fear (that can cloud one’s judgement, we all know that).

I will leave you heard with some writings on propaganda – the attended audience, and methods of employment. Read it and see if it reminds you at all of what’s happening right now. Let me know if you know where this is from, but if you don’t (I had no idea) I will let you know tomorrow.

“Propaganda must always address itself to the broad masses of the people. (…) All propaganda must be presented in a popular form and must fix its intellectual level so as not to be above the heads of the least intellectual of those to whom it is directed. (…) The art of propaganda consists precisely in being able to awaken the imagination of the public through an appeal to their feelings, in finding the appropriate psychological form that will arrest the attention and appeal to the hearts of the national masses. The broad masses of the people are not made up of diplomats or professors of public jurisprudence nor simply of persons who are able to form reasoned judgment in given cases, but a vacillating crowd of human children who are constantly wavering between one idea and another. (…) The great majority of a nation is so feminine in its character and outlook that its thought and conduct are ruled by sentiment rather than by sober reasoning. This sentiment, however, is not complex, but simple and consistent. It is not highly differentiated, but has only the negative and positive notions of love and hatred, right and wrong, truth and falsehood.”

“Propaganda must not investigate the truth objectively and, in so far as it is favourable to the other side, present it according to the theoretical rules of justice; yet it must present only that aspect of the truth which is favourable to its own side. (…) The receptive powers of the masses are very restricted, and their understanding is feeble. On the other hand, they quickly forget. Such being the case, all effective propaganda must be confined to a few bare essentials and those must be expressed as far as possible in stereotyped formulas. These slogans should be persistently repeated until the very last individual has come to grasp the idea that has been put forward. (…) Every change that is made in the subject of a propagandist message must always emphasize the same conclusion. The leading slogan must of course be illustrated in many ways and from several angles, but in the end one must always return to the assertion of the same formula.”

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Did you vote?

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Crossroads block #3

Yesterday I forgot the simplest and possibly the most important way of being an activist: Voting. For most of us (I will not go into voter suppression issues) it is a simple and usually not a time consuming action. This year I voted by mail which included filling out a form (maybe 15 min), sealing it in an envelope and dropping this envelope into a special mailbox, that was 5 minute drive from our house. That’s it.

But it’s not only important to vote for president. You need to vote for people who will be representing your voice in the government, who will be voting on policies in your name. That also means reading up on views of the people who’s names appear on the ballots so you know they will represent you and issues you stand for.

We are lucky enough to live in a democratic system. One of the basic principles of democracy is that we are guaranteed to have regular, free and fair elections where the citizens get to decide who will be in power. We have a CHOICE. Many people around the world don’t have that privilege.

The privilege of living in a democracy comes with some responsibilities and duties. Voting is our highest civic duty. If we forgo our right to vote, how can we say that we have a choice? By not voting we are basically undermining our democracy. Or said in a different way: “Higher voter turnout is in most cases a sign of the vitality of democracy, while lower turnout is usually associated with voter apathy and mistrust of the political process.” (International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance)

Let me give you some numbers: in 2016 election, about 60% of voting eligible population cast their ballot (see United States Election Project by Associate Professor Michael P. McDonald of University of Florida). That is not a steep drop as some media outlets reported initially, it is about 3% less than in 2008 election when President Obama won his first term. However, this still mean that 92.7 million (!) people did NOT VOTE. That is a huge number. Think about it, almost 93 million people did not bother to vote (ok, some people could not vote for various reasons, but still the majority of these 93 million people just did not bother). The greatest turnout was in Minnesota at about 74%, and the lowest in Hawaii at about 43%.

While I support all the protests and while I do not stand by or believe in anything this president and his administration say or do, when they say – where were you when it was time to vote – they do have a point.

Election is over now, what’s done is done and let’s not be shaming people for who they voted or if they voted (ok, maybe a little on if  they voted). Let’s think about the future and start informing ourselves about the 2018 midterm elections and let’s change things. Because the power to change is in our hands.