October 02, 2005

Ramping the Propaganda Up

One of the best new journalist blogs is Early Warning by national security expert, William M. Arkin. (He is a remarkable investigative journalist and has made serious enemies out of those who believe the government should be able to hide their activities under a veil of secrecy. You might remember that someone tried to plant evidence that accused him of being a traitor earlier this year.) His most recent post covered the extent our government is building systems designed to "sell" people the Bush message - such as Karen Hughes' shaping the message (but not the policy) that tells the middle east why America really is good and their friend.

Lots of good comments in that post, including one I thought deserved some front page attention:

We have been doing pretty thorough analysis of Bush's last couple of speeches and a White House briefing in a college propaganda class I teach. My students have been astounded (so have I) that Bush's techniques are right out of the textbook.

There is one chapter that is a case study on the Third Reich and, literally, nearly every major tactic therein described is something the Bushists do.

I had a student yesterday -- a Bush supporter, a member of the campus Christian prayer group, a Vietnamese immigrant and a good, smart kid -- pretty much have a meltdown. I had asked what the authors' purpose was in writing the book (Age of Propaganda, Pratkanis and Aronson, BTW). He answered: "because they don't like President Bush."

A few in the class chuckled. I asked them when the book had been published. They flipped to the title page. It had been initially published in 1992.

Then the student's face scrunched up, and he looked very confused. It was as good an illustration of cognitive dissonance as could be. I pointed this out, and asked him if that was the discomfort he was feeling. He said yes. I asked him what two opposite cognitions he was having. He said because he thought the book was written in response to Bush, and that it was written when Bush's father was president. I suggested that his competing cognitions were that 1. he liked and supported president Bush and that 2. President Bush's tactics are right out of our Propaganda textbook. He nodded.

I felt bad for him -- and for putting him on the spot -- but it was actually incredible. One of those lifechanging moments for him, and probably for the class.

He had to leave early, so I didn't get to talk to him about it, but the look on his face was that of someone whose belief system had just been smoked.

Powerful, powerful stuff.

Posted by: Rich | Sep 30, 2005 2:14:49 PM


Posted by Mary at October 2, 2005 11:00 PM | Propaganda | Technorati links |

Wow...nice catch! Thanks for sharing it.

Posted by: Darryl at October 3, 2005 01:20 AM

One down, 59 million or so to go...

Posted by: (: Tom :) at October 5, 2005 07:16 AM

I am not surprised that the administration's tactics resemble those of the third reich. consciously or not the Republicans are intent that America resembles the third reich by the time they are finished. Just listen to Pres. Bush last utterance today regarding a possible bird flu virus epidemic reaching the US. He wants congress to give him the power to use the army in the US. That is martial law that can be extended as he sees fit. A slippery road leading to fascism and a police state.

Posted by: thutmosis at October 5, 2005 04:43 PM