How to spot the propaganda

In light of the breaking news at Breitbart’s websites, especially regarding the NEA’s push to enlist artists and others to the crusade for Obama’s agenda and to continue on from my blog about Cloward-Privan, I’m posting this. If you’ve read Alinsky, you will recognize how he incorporated these ideas into his “primer”.  Of course my examples are written from a conservative point of view but you can find as many of these propaganda techniques used by Republicans, entertainers, political “comedians” and even used car salesmen.

I offer this which is another product of Columbia University deep thinkers:

From Institute for Propaganda Analysis, Propaganda Analysis. New York: Columbia University Press, 1938. Quoted at http://carmen.artsci.washington.edu/propaganda/home.htm andhttp://www.vcsun.org/~ilene/secured_305text/propa.html

Name calling

Bad names have played a tremendously powerful role in the history of the world and in our own individual development. They have ruined reputations, stirred men and women to outstanding accomplishments, sent others to prison cells, and made men mad enough to enter battle and slaughter their fellowmen. They have been and are applied to other people, groups, gangs, tribes, colleges, political parties, neighborhoods, states, sections of the country, nations, and races.

Example: countless, but here’s a few: Pelosi et al calling townhall attendees astroturf, manufactured masses, Un-American, mobs. And of course, RACISTS.

Van Jones and name calling:


Glittering generalities

We believe in, fight for, live by virtue words about which we have deep-set ideas. Such words include civilization, Christianity, good, proper, right, democracy, patriotism, motherhood, fatherhood, science, medicine, health, and love. For our purposes in propaganda analysis, we call these virtue words “Glittering Generalities” in order to focus attention upon this dangerous characteristic that they have: They mean different things to different people; they can be used in different ways. This is not a criticism of these words as we understand them. Quite the contrary. It is a criticism of the uses to which propagandists put the cherished words and beliefs of unsuspecting people.

When someone talks to us about democracy, we immediately think of our own defnite ideas about democracy, the ideas we learned at home, at school, and in church. Our first and natural reaction is to assume that the speaker is using the word in our sense, that he believes as we do on this important subject. This lowers our ‘sales resistance’ and makes us far less suspicious than we ought to be when the speaker begins telling us the things ‘the United States must do to preserve democracy.’ The Glittering Generality is, in short, Name Calling in reverse. While Name Calling seeks to make us form a judgment to reject and condemn without examining the evidence, the Glittering Generality device seeks to make us approve and accept without examining the evidence.

In acquainting ourselves with the Glittering Generality Device, therefore, all that has been said regarding Name Calling must be kept in mind.

Example: with many “glittering”  words and imagery:



Transfer

Transfer is a device by which the propagandist carries over the authority, sanction, and prestige of something we respect and revere to something he would have us accept. For example, most of us respect and revere our church and our nation. If the propagandist succeeds in getting church or nation to approve a campaign in behalf of some program, he thereby transfers its authority, sanction, and prestige to that program. Thus, we may accept something which otherwise we might reject.

Example: Although the AMA only represents between 18 and 25% of the nation’s doctors and few Americans know that, Obama touts them to the public because they have signed onto his healthcare reforms. Therefore, it must be a good thing for our citizens.

Testimonial

This is the classic misuse of the Testimonial Device that comes to the minds of most of us when we hear the term. We recall it indulgently and tell ourselves how much more sophisticated we are than our grandparents or even our parents. With our next breath, we begin a sentence, ‘The Times said,’ ‘John L. Lewis said… ,’ ‘Herbert Hoover said… ‘, ‘The President said, ‘My doctor said,’ ‘Our minister said ‘ Some of these Testimonials may merely give greater emphasis to a legitimate and accurate idea, a fair use of the device; others, however, may represent the sugar-coating of a distortion, a falsehood, a misunderstood notion, an anti-social suggestion.

Example: The president said “we are the ones we have been waiting for” therefore it’s considered a call to arms by his supporters.

Oprah said:


Plain folks

“Plain Folks” is a device used by politicians, labor leaders, businessmen, and even by ministers and educators to win our confidence by appearing to be people like ourselves “just plain folks among the neighbors.” In election years especially do candidates show their devotion to little children and the common, homey things of life. They have front porch campaigns. For the newspapermen they raid the kitchen cupboard, finding there some of the good wife’s apple pie. They go to country picnics; they attend service at the old frame church; they pitch hay and go fishing; they show their belief in home and mother. In short, they would win our votes by showing that they’re just as common as the rest of us, “just plain folks” and, therefore, wise and good. Businessmen often are “plainfolks” with the factory hands. Even distillers use the device. “It’s our family’s whiskey, neighbor; and neighbor, it’s your price.”

Example: The rose garden beer summit hosted by Obama for Officer Crowley and Henry Gates. Obama playing basketball or bowling on the campaign trail.

The Beer Summitt in the rose garden

The Beer Summitt in the rose garden

Card stacking

“Card Stacking” is a device in which the propagandist employs all the arts of deception to win our support for himself, his group, nation, race, policy, practice, belief, or ideal. He stacks the cards against the truth. He uses under-emphasis and over-emphasis to dodge issues and evade facts. He resorts to lies, censorship and distortion. He omits facts. He offers false testimony. He creates a smoke screen of clamor by raising a new issue when he wants an embarrassing matter forgotten. He draws a red herring across the trail to confuse and divert those in quest of facts he does not want revealed. He makes the unreal appear real and the real appear unreal. He lets half-truth masquerade as truth. By the Card Stacking device, a mediocre candidate, through the “build-up,” is made to appear an intellectual titan; an ordinary prize fighter, a probable world champion; a worthless patent medicine, a beneficent cure. By means of this device propagandists would convince us that a ruthless war of aggression is a crusade for righteousness. Some member nations of the Non-Intervention Committee send their troops to intervene in Spain. Card Stacking employs sham, hypocrisy, effrontery.

Example: “I didn’t even know that ACORN was getting a whole lot of  federal money,” Obama said.
“We have more important things to be talking about than ACORN.”

Bandwagon

The propagandist hires a hall, rents radio stations, fills a great stadium, marches a million or at least a lot of men in a parade. He employs symbols, colors, music, movement, all the dramatic arts. He gets us to write letters, to send telegrams, to contribute to his cause. He appeals to the desire, common to most of us, to follow the crowd. Because he wants us to follow the crowd in masses, he directs his appeal to groups held together already by common ties, ties of nationality, religion, race, sex, vocation. Thus propagandists campaigning for or against a program will appeal to us as Catholics, Protestants, or Jews…as farmers or as school teachers; as housewives or as miners. With the aid of all the other propaganda devices, all of the artifices of attery are used to harness the fears and hatreds, prejudices and biases, convictions and ideals common to a group. Thus is emotion made to push and pull us as members of a group onto a Band Wagon.

Example: The $5 and $10 donations to Obamas campaign that his handlers said numbered in the millions. The use of campaign rally attendees to call 3 non-attending friends on their cellphones to encourage them to vote for Obama.

Jump on the celebrity bandwagon:



2 responses to “How to spot the propaganda

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