Saturday, August 1, 2009

Age of Propaganda: The Everyday Use and Abuse of Persuasion Review

I was really looking forward to learning more about the use of propaganda, but was not expecting to purchase a book that contains so much of it.

Here are just a few examples:

1. Preface xi "...we lamented the fact that there was no White House tape recorder in use during the 1990s-so that President Reagan escaped the consequences of deceiving the American people (and the world) by subverting the Constitution through the covert sale of arms to Iran...".

This is propaganda passed off as a fact. President Reagan took responsibility that the sale of arms to Iran happened on his watch. However, he denied that he was personally involved in this action and there is no proof that he deceived the American people or that he was "subverting the Constitution".

2. Preface xiii: Context is Bill Clinton and media coverage of his "inappropriate relationship" with Monica Lewinsky. The authors state, "Much of this coverage bordered on the hysterical, with rumor chasing gossip chasing innuendo...".

This appears an attempt to minimize the seriousness of the charges against President Clinton of providing perjurious, false and misleading testimony to a grand jury and engaging in obstruction of justice through efforts to delay, impede, cover up and conceal the existence of evidence. Would the authors have been so concerned about the amount of media coverage if the President who lied had been a Republican?

3. p. 57-60: Context is Rush Limbaugh. I listen to talk radio and have listened to Limbaugh on and off for 15 years. The authors claim that Limbaugh, "hung up" on "an African-American caller" and told the caller to "take that bone out of your nose and call me back".

The authors charge of racism leveled against Limbaugh did not appear credible at all, so I checked it out on The authors fail to mention that the only possible documentation of this incident, that reportedly happened over 30 years ago when Limbaugh was hosting a Top 40 music show, is from an October 8, 1990 Newsday article which claims that Limbaugh admitted feeling guilty about making this comment. states that as far as they know, Limbaugh hasn't denied the Newsday article report.

Let's see, Limbaugh has been on the radio for over 30 years and speaks for hours at a time. He allegedly makes a stupid, off-the-cuff comment over 30 years ago that he feels guilty about...and the authors feel compelled to treat it as fact and like an everyday occurrence?

The authors continue, "Limbaugh's stock-in-trade pre-persuasion tactic is rumor and innuendo-a distortion, half-truth, outright falsity, or unsupported claim presented as the truth". The authors continue their personal tirade against Limbaugh until half way through page 60.

To their credit, the authors do touch on some of the propaganda regarding what our nation now terms "The Civil War". However, there is so much propaganda surrounding this specific war that it could fill volumes. Anyone who has studied the subject and read the words of Lincoln knows that this war was not fought over slavery (which has been an abhorrent evil in many nations around the world, but especially so in this nation predicated on individual liberty), but over preventing states from ever allowing their citizens the freedom to choose to leave the union they had voluntarily joined. Consider the analogy of a marriage and a subsequent divorce to what happened in this war to "preserve the union". Or consider if Puerto Rico had voluntarily chosen to join the USA, but its citizens changed their minds and later voted to leave the union. Would it be acceptable for the remaining states in our union to wage war against the citizens of Puerto Rico, kill anyone who opposed our will to force them back into the union against their expressed will, and then celebrate that we had preserved our nation? If Puerto Rico voted to leave the union, shouldn't the USA military forces leave peacefully? If they refused, which was the case with Fort Sumter, shouldn't Puerto Rico have the right to finally force an unwanted foreign power from their country?

I finally just threw this book away and started reading a much more intelligently written book on propaganda entitled, "Propaganda, The Formation of Men's Attitudes" by Jacques Ellul.

Buy it here now!