Monday, May 23, 2022

The Double-edge Sword of Propaganda


The double-edged sword of propaganda 

 "A fascinating and controversial look at how government and corporations control how we think and act. The nephew of Sigmund Freud, Edward Bernays (1891-1995), pioneered the scientific technique of shaping and manipulating public opinion, which he called "engineering of consent." Bernays, along with Lippmann, was a part of a powerful propaganda machine that advertised and sold World War One to the American people "Make the world safe for Democracy."

A visit to the Virginia war museum in Newport News, Va., is all one can make to understand how propaganda was used to turn American citizens into fighting mad saviors of the free world. Here you will find posters depicting "the Hun" noted as Germany, or the Japanese in cartoonish depictions aimed at turning the average citizen's efforts to win World War Two. A 1942 poster titled This is the Enemy circulated in the United States following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Its purpose was to embody the entire Japanese nation as a ruthless and animalistic enemy that needed to be defeated. This image represents a clash between two nations at war and illustrates the biased perceptions that developed as a result. By dehumanizing the Japanese and instilling fear in the minds of Americans, WWII propaganda posters prompted cultural and racial hatred that led to massive historical consequences for the Japanese. 

The extent to which propaganda shapes the progress of affairs about us may surprise even the well-informed person. Nevertheless, it is only necessary to look under the surface of any newspaper for a hint as to propaganda's authority over public opinion. An example would be the following: More Scars for the VA employment commission. Dated May 9th, 2022, Daily Press. I couldn't help but wonder why this article included a picture of Governor Youngkin? The issues were related to past governor Ralph Northam, and the article expresses that issue in writing. This expression, however, finds its way into the article near the end. When understanding how to look for propaganda, one must wonder if the picture of Governor Youngkin was used with the big headline knowing and associating Governor Younkin with an issue created before his elected duties were to commence. Is this a mistake, or is this propaganda? Was it the media's intent to use a big headline and attach the new Governor (a republican) to an issue created by the past Governor, who happens to be a democrat? I believe most readers will see the picture, read the headline, and then associate the two with bad governance. Think about it, how many times do you look at a picture and read the headline moving on to the next article in the paper? The intent here was to make our new Governor look bad in the eyes of the voter, and that is why I am a critic of the media. Other media outlets are far worse. "The View," Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN, the list goes on but know this, every one of these shows is propaganda and not the news. 

 Edward Bernays goes on to write. "The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in a democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. ...We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. ...In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons...who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind." I want each of you to think about this part of the quote. "Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society? I believe the powerful few, this invisible government, has used propaganda to divide our country. This is a double-edged sword; I hope you will understand. Edward Bernays's book "Propaganda" is available online.

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