As I See It |

As I See It

Propaganda is defined as deliberately spread information, ideas, or rumors to advance or damage a cause. Adolph Hitler was a master of propaganda. In “Mein Kampf,” the book he wrote while he was in prison in 1924, he described the manner in which he visualized the use of propaganda to mold public opinion.

Obviously the first step is to gain control over the media so that you have as complete control as possible over the messages the public is receiving. Opposing viewpoints must be discredited or suppressed. It was a case of either you agree with the party line or you are arrested. Then use emotions, suspicions, and hatreds to legitimize what you want the public to believe or to divert their attention from any ideas you want to undermine or facts you want to conceal. And above all, don’t let the truth interfere with the message.

In 1938, Hitler invented a crisis, claiming the German minority living in the Sudetenland, a portion of Czechoslovakia which bordered Germany, was being persecuted by the Czechs. He used this lie as an excuse to invade the Sudetenland and annex it to Germany. A year later he took over the rest of Czechoslovakia.

Hitler never concealed his lifelong hatred for Jews, but to gain support for his anti-Semitism he made them the scapegoats for all of Germany’s economic problems. Constant repetition of this lie soon gave it the status of dogma, “justifying” the Holocaust.

I am by no means comparing George W. Bush to Adolf Hitler, but he does seem to have taken some pages from Hitler’s playbook.

The recent Federal Communications Commission ruling opening the door for consolidation of newspaper and radio and television ownership in a few major corporations, which would obviously be grateful to the administration that made it possible, would create a “legal” first step toward control of the media.

The “either you are with us or you are against us” attitude of the administration labels anyone who disagrees with the administration as being unpatriotic or subversive. In a true democracy, dissent is not a crime – it is what differentiates a democracy from a fascist state.

And then we come to Iraq and the series of accusations which were paraded before the American people and the rest of the world as facts to try to justify President Bush’s burning desire to overthrow Saddam Hussein.

First, Saddam was building stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, which posed an “immediate threat” to the United States, none of which have yet been found. No wonder the United Nations inspectors didn’t find any, either.

Then we were told Saddam was close to developing nuclear weapons and medium-range missiles to deliver them, neither of which has been proven to be true.

And then it was claimed that Saddam and al-Qaida were in league when no such link existed.

All of these claims were based on highly questionable evidence, what Senator Ted Kennedy has labeled intentionally deceptive intelligence. The Bush White House selected the pieces that supported their objective and rejected those which did not. In the aftermath, those who fed Bush what he wanted to hear were promoted, and those whose assessments were correct but were not in line with Bush-think were fired.

What we have is a propaganda campaign for an invasion of Iraq based on suspicions, selective use of questionable intelligence, and half truths and exaggerations bordering on lies, that were fed to the American public to con them into supporting it. Most of the rest of the world wasn’t buying it.

The last time we were duped into a major conflict (Vietnam), we were propagandized by a Democratic president, Lyndon B. Johnson, with the exaggerated Tonkin Gulf incident and the since discredited Domino Theory. It just proves that the American public must be ever vigilant and skeptical of government propaganda.

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