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I was trying to find a fitting place to post this. I was going to post it under Dr. Lafer’s blog on deception and the 2016 presidential democratic caucus, “Burned by Lies: A Society in Danger,” and then I remembered my earlier essay posted here on the condition and conditioning of the stupid society (the esay was not titled)–students in our present school system, but I cannot find it. I think this essay is a good discussion which adds to the point of that earlier essay. Anyway, because I cannot find it, I am just going to post it under “General Comments.”
“Media as Deception – Dark Pride – and Bombs”
For some time I have been disappointed concerning the way a few of my colleagues–presently and from the past—take the media; that is, they take it way too seriously—believing everything they hear. In response, I am taking serious the way they are moved by the media and giving my reasons below. While I worked on this I was reminded of a passage in the Bible:
“Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness” (2 Corinthians 11:14, 15).
By propaganda, we know that masses of people can be moved by a centralized government or organization to do and condone horrible things. Nazi Germany is probably the most horrible example. The anti-semitism of Nazi Germany was created by propaganda; it was a rhetoric of blame towards the Jewish population. At the same time, there was a propaganda of German exceptionalism—a kind of national self-aggrandizement—which created a strong nationalistic pride—expressing itself in a racist hope for a new arian nation. Also there was a propaganda which created a religious sense of “God’s chosen people.” Many of the soldiers wore belt buckles with the inscription, “God with us.” Adolf Hitler, the icon, leader and spokesman of the movement, used many many Biblical references in his book “Mein Kampf,” and referred to himself as a servant of Jesus in his speeches. There was a propaganda of promise as well; Hitler promised every family a Volkswagen. In response, the people were willing to invade, dominate and rob nearby nations which posed no threat to them. It was a propaganda of blame, exceptionalism, racism, nationalism, promise and choseness which brain-washed the common people.
It is my point here that much of our media is a source of deception rather than a helpful source of information. How is the media a source of deception? Let me discuss a few points and show you how the media is a source of deception.
First of all,
I.With the best intentions the media can never be absolutely accurate.
A report or a documentary can never be the reality itself. The news we listen to daily on the major networks are very brief abstractions of a reality somewhere else. To know a reality or a situation one must visit the reality him/herself. For example, if you want to know the reality of Palestinians living in an occupied state, rather than reading a newspaper article or listening to the evening news, you might want to visit one of their bombed hospitals just after an attack and discuss the situation in person with those who have lost loved ones. Such a visit would bring much more understanding than watching or reading a report.
However, abstractions are how people think. Most trust and are satisfied with reading the papers, watching the news and listening to the local gossip. To question the truth of such sources is usually never brought to mind. In fact, abstractions are discussed at length by many people, and, at the same time, these same people who discuss these things never bring it to their minds that these abstractions are nothing like the reality of what these abstractions represent! Even with the best intentions, abstract reports can never accurately bring the listener to the reality itself; it is merely an abstraction. The truth is that any truth we think we receive from the media can never with any large degree accurately represent a reality from somewhere else in space and time. It is an abstraction!
Second of all,
II.With selfish intentions the media can twist the facts for its own interests.
It has been reported that P. T. Barnum said often that there is a sucker born every minute, and the goal of most media is to influence gullible people. People spend millions of dollars on things they do not need because some advertizement makes a product look as if it will make the buyer happy. This is why the advertizing industry is one of the most lucrative businesses to be in. The television and radio shows we watch are all sponsored by businesses which seek to advertize their products. The news media and talk shows are no exception; they have sponsors which only want high ratings for their shows so that more and more people will see their products and buy them. Such sponsored sources of news will be careful to not say anything which is not in the interests of their sponsors, or they will lose their sponsors and their money. Most of the media is not about the truth but about consumerism, and they can and do twist the facts for their own interests.
And last of all,
III.With manipulative intentions the media can control the thoughts and responses of masses of people.
Only that which is considered newsworthy is put on the news; that is, that which is newsworthy for those in charge. Much can be said about distorting the truth by not putting it on the news at all. An example of distorting or slanting the news is the way networks often cover protestors. Many times the issue, the thoughts or the ideas of the protestors are never discussed; rather, the news will focus on one trouble maker or a violent altercation which seems more exciting. This promotes a negative image of protestors. This is why most protests are viewed negatively by the masses. Also, there has been many large, massive protests which have never been covered by the major networks. This keeps others from knowing about important injustices and from participating. The media controls what the masses know and do not know; this is how the media controls how people feel and what they believe about certain issues and people.
Another example is how wars are covered. The destruction of thousands of innocent people’s lives which happen to live in the country which is invaded or bombed are never in any worthwhile degree ever covered. The media does not want the public to feel empathy for the innocent victims. If the suffering of innocent people are not covered, then people will not be moved to do anything about it. Hundreds of thousands of innocent people have died in our recent wars and ongoing war on terrorism, but it is never discussed on the news. Why? Trillions of dollars have been spent on these wars and these atrocities have been the greatest contributor to our national debt, but this is never discussed on the news. Why? We know these wars create more terrorists than they kill, but this is never discussed on news. Why? Why does the news not discuss how destructive these wars are to foreign people and to our own nation?
The conclusion is,
If you watch and listen to most of the major networks or listen to several of the popular radio talk shows, and take them seriously you will be, to a degree, deceived. You will not know the whole truth, you will only know an abstraction—an abstraction that will not move you to do anything or will move you to do the wrong thing.
I’m sure that Hitler and his Nazis did not want or allow the broadcasting of photographs of starving prisoners in concentration camps like Auschwitz. For the same reasons the corpses of the innocent victims of our present bombing raids are never broadcasted. The point is that people are controlled by keeping them ignorant. Again, abstractions from reality can never present the whole picture. They are edited realities. What is considered newsworthy by those who wish to control the masses can never be anything which disturbs their will to control.
The United States has a history of concepts which were used as propaganda to justify cruel policies. “Manifest Destiny” was and is a philosophy of justifying the swallowing up of land, resources and the genocide of indigenous peoples of our country for wealth. Today, many politicians believe in “American Exceptionalism.” The racism of the past and the labelism at present, at their core, is about economic exploitation. In the past it was about national policies, and now it is about foreign policies. The propaganda of the past was nationalized racism: condoning the enslavement of Africans and the genocide against the Native Americans. Now, it is the labeling of Muslims as terrorists in order to subtly make alright the devastation of certain populations for the occupation of those lands which are valued for their resources and strategic positions around oil rich targets.
Now we all want to serve our country and do what is right but we must ask the question and consider : “Is patriotism bad?” Of course not. But when the propaganda enforces or condones an oppressive, cruel foreign policy for the advantage of a rich few, it becomes a nationalistic “dark pride.” In the name of a kind of “Manifest Destiny” and “American Exceptionalism” the moral and intellectual high ground is accepted as a given rather than earned with integrity and thoughtfulness. The “dark pride” allows and justifies these de-humanizing wars in the name of security and freedom.
It is a subtle message. It uses your love to bury your desire for the truth. How? We love our veterans—especially our parents and grandparents who have bravely fought for our country, and so we stand and sing the “Star Spangled Banner” to the flag every time we get an opportunity (every sporting event) in love for them and the country “they” fought for. Once we all make this step of honoring those who have gone before us, we, then, never think to question the motives behind our present wars—never wanting to dishonor a vet. It is a trick. While hundreds of innocent people die, a very few get rich from selling weapons and other products to the military. But, after standing and singing the “Star Spangled Banner” at every sporting event, viewing all of our old and recent wounded veterans, it just doesn’t seem right to question the wars—does it? Or, after having said the “Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag,” for at least twelve years of our lives every school day repeating, “One nation under God,” it just doesn’t seem right to question the policies of our great nation—does it?
Is the propaganda intentional? Or, is it some kind of collective psychological subconscious repression which denies the truth about our past and present because it is just too painful to acknowledge just how cruel our nation has been and still is? Is this just the nature of the capitalistic beast which will always be part of who we are as a people? Whatever it is, my point here that much of our media is a source of deception rather than a helpful source of information, so don’t take it too seriously.
Please comment in the box provided and we can discuss. What do you think about the media?
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“. . .will lead to the vote in which the sane choice is the end of law because there is no need for law.” Right on! You remind me of something the Apostle Paul wrote: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:23). lol.
“they faced some real problems, personally speaking in terms of economic interests and political interests” Sounds like where we are today–a good lesson! Hopefully, those into the greed thing today can learn a lesson from the past.
As Freire says, it will be the oppressed who teach the oppressor to grow up humane.
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That is a good quote; it made me think of this one:
“Violence and nonviolence agree that suffering can be a very powerful social force. But there is a difference. Violence says suffering can be a powerful social force by inflicting it on somebody else, so this is what we do in war…The nonviolent say that suffering becomes a powerful social force when you willingly accept the violence on yourself, so that self-suffering stands at the center of the nonviolent movement… There is no easy way to create a world where people can live together…but if such a world is created…it will be accomplished by persons who have the language to put an end to suffering by willingly suffering themselves rather than inflicting suffering on others…Unearned suffering is redemptive.” –Martin Luther King Jr.
My notion of righteousness in the anarchist philosophy of things is that it has little to do with unruliness and chaos and more with a belief that humans, given time enough to get wise enough will no longer need rules because they will have developed habits of mind that allow for a society that is civil enough to allow individuals to live their lives in freedom. As for those who put on paper the blue print for the American democracy, I know fully well that both their thinking and the Constitution they produced were flawed, flawed in ways that made the Constitution a body of law that outrightly offended the sense of the Declaration, that 3/5s compromise, the most glaring example. That said, the Declaration is for me one of the best descriptions of what truly human life is, must be, if it is to be reflective of what a human being is and an being with the intellectual power we human possess, of what a human being is capable if he or she has the freedom to become the self he or she is.
Those Enlightenment people were more enlightened, I think, that their actions, their law building reflects, this because they faced some real problems, personally speaking in terms of economic interests and political interests; To advocate for the abolition of slaves would have allowed them to be ethically clear but powerless in the context of the society that was the society in which they lived. They needed to unite the colonies to get together to get rid of the king and they would have lost a good portion of the colonies if they pushed too hard on the slavery issue. No excuse, but something we need to understand and, too, the battles fought to bring about ratification of the Constitution in an era where people saw their freedom to be protected better by the states and feared the tyranny of a strong federal government. Horrible comprises were made, but I do think it true that both the Declaration and the Constitution made the freedoms that came to oppressed people later possible.
The Framers of the Constitution did claim that their goal was to form a more perfect union, this to me a sign that they were aware of the imperfect body of law they had created and a body of law that Madison made sure (for political reasons, to an extent) was amenable.
Anarchy, at the right time, in the right place, might be the most humane answer to how we all get along together as free and independent beings. It may be that democracy is the place holder and that education for and of a democratic society will lead to the vote in which the sane choice is the end of law because there is no need for law. At that point we will have come very close to achieving out full humanity.
“that government could be outgrown, the beings who are governed finding their way to habits of mind that allow for concern for goodness of the whole without need for cohesion by law.”
Mikhail Bakunin and Peter Kropotkin thought that a spontaneous natural revolution of anarchist ideas would replace government in the 19th century. They were wrong of course except for the Spanish Anarchist Revolution which succeeded for a short time. According to Chomsky’s commentary on it, it would have succeeded for much longer if it were not for the capitalists and communists attempts to crush it—for obvious reasons of power control. The rise of the collective way of running business scared the pants off off capitalists and communists dictators.
I’m not an anarchists either but I do enjoy reading the philosophy. Of course the anarchist way of life was pretty much the way of life for most of the human inhabitants of the earth until the rise of the state about 6,000 years ago. So it (the anarchist world) is not something to come so much as it was something that might return.
“That kind of government is hard to create, but I take it to be about the more perfect union the writers of the Constitution had in mind. . .” To read the Constitution, it is easy to be moved by the vision it seems to promote. However, as you know, the reality of our early republic was highly driven by white supremacy and stayed that way for about 190 years until the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. All men being created equal certainly didn’t apply to the Native Americans or the Africans. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, owners of slaves as well, commissioned army officers to burn the fields of Native Americans and slaughter them. Andrew Jackson hated the Indians and burned crops, villages and killed thousands of Native Americans—including women, children and the old. One of the main ways the early nation made wealth for itself was through the acquired land—land speculation.
The point of exposing dirty laundry is to bring home the reality that we are not all that great a folk. Many still believe in the exceptionalism of the US, trailing not too far behind the idea of “Manifest Destiny” of the 19th Century; it is, of course, a lie. It’s a lie which has and still does promote a Nazi like patriotic nationalism which justifies blind obligatory obedience which in turn, again, in the words of the anarchists, destroys the thinking mind. I guess the reason I bring this up (it’s not that I don’t recognize the value and significance of the vision) is that it seems like today, as history shows then, that people get lost in the rhetoric. The rhetoric is awesome and greats have picked up on it (like Dr. M.L. King) and used it to promote a lot of good. So, I guess you are right; it’s about making the the vision and the rhetoric a reality.
The point of the state writing the laws and rules for the masses which in turn having a restricting effect on the minds’ imagination and ability to think critically is a powerful point which most of the anarchists make can be applied to the political control of curriculum as well. The schools, not at all in totality but to a degree, are sources of indoctrination to shim up the civil religion—the patriotic exceptionalism. Instead, the “reality” should be weighed (in the scales of justice) in light of the Founding Fathers’ “vision.”
“In a society there needs to be rules people live by but none that interferes with freedom, all ultimately insuring maximum amounts of freedom for all involved. That kind of government is hard to create. . .”
Yeh, I think if our politicians tried a little harder. I mean, are they really concerned with our freedom? For example, if they wanted to liberate us from dirty coal and the on going debts we pay to the power companies, wouldn’t they see to it that every house had solar panels on their roofs. Or like Bernie mentioned, why are bankers making hay from student debt or anyone’s debt for that matter? You will probably think I am an anarchist since I refer to them so much. It’s just that I am still reading them. They make me think! Anyway, according to many of them, our ultimate goal is the greatest happiness for all. Sometimes, I really don’t think our politicians are interested in our freedom or happiness.
“Frankenstein,” I’ve seen a couple Hollywood flicks but I’ve never read the classic. I should; it will get me away from the anarchists for awhile.
“Deschooling Society,” Yeh I’ve been deschooling myself for some time. I’ll check him out.
Anyway, hope my ramble isn’t too boring or taxing. Probably cliché to some. I enjoy the think and write.
“We should not forget that government is, abstractedly taken, an evil, usurpation upon the private judgment and individual conscience of mankind” (William Godwin).” Of I remember correctly, Godwin is Mary Shelly’s dad! And she, of course, went on to write Frankenstein, one of the most amazing books I have ever read and for reasons related to the themes you pick up here. As for the hit on government, I am not of the anarchist belief in no government is the best government. In a society there needs to be rules people live by but none that interferes with freedom, all ultimately insuring maximum amounts of freedom for all involved. That kind of government is hard to create, but I take it to be about the more perfect union the writers of the Constitution had in mind, these people creating a body of law of the broadest kind that had to reflect the depiction of the human being and his/her rights according to natural law, afforded human beings by virtue of their birth as human being, beings who are human. So I do understand the anarchists and I understand people like Ivan Illich who make a powerful argument for Deschooling Society. Both government and education are necessary but education has to work so that the people are ready to govern as free people with good sense, with the ability to respect respectable opinion as well as think in ways that generate opinions worthy of respect. Really, it is possible that life under such a government, one that sponsors truly democratic decision making processes, that government could be outgrown, the beings who are governed finding their way to habits of mind that allow for concern for goodness of the whole without need for cohesion by law.
Your willingness to participate in the conversation makes me a devoted fan of yours.
Oops, forgot to sign in for above comment with gravatar. Anyway, I am now. Sorry for typo.
Well, Dr. Lafer, you got me thinking about some of the things I have been reading and how they are connected to the student centered versus curriculum centered education debate. The same debate is found in other areas. The first I think of place I think of are the old anarchists writings concerning the state. Like a strict curriculum based education, so it is with authoritarian governments “. . .that in despotic countries mind is depressed by a uniform usurpation; while in republics it preserves a greater portion of activity, and the usurpations more easily conforms itself to the fluctuations of opinions. . . . By its very nature positive institution has a tendency to suspend the elasticity and progress of mind. . . . We should not forget that government is, abstractedly taken, an evil, usurpation upon the private judgment and individual conscience of mankind” (William Godwin). The anarchist, Godwin, understood that the greatest danger people faced by obligating themselves to the state was that of a less imaginative mind—a mind that thought less and took orders more.
This same line of thought can also be found in the atheist critique of faith based authority: “. . .the most destructive result of subjecting reason to faith is the loss of respect for our highest power, the logical human mind with its power to problem solve responsibly” (Stephen F. Uhl, from “Out of God’s Closet”). This X-Priest gone atheist knows better than anyone how, “once reason is de-based and not considered man’s highest power, any extreme faith can be reached” (Uhl)–belief in all kinds of unbelievable supernatural things—absurdities.
We can push this thought a bit further home. The idea that an advertisement must be true if it is allowed to appear on television or in a magazine cripples the minds ability to critically evaluate the powerful and subtle advertizing which pounds out of our media daily. We have faith in the system because because it is the system we have; what other choice do we have? Instead of evaluating evidence, people some where along the way believe what they want to believe because it is much easier. After all it’s the law, or it’s the faith of our salvation, or it’s the products’ description and the manufacturers would get into trouble for lying to us. However, those who give themselves over to be ruled, in different ways, fall into this trap: whether in the curriculum based school, by the sate, by the commercialized driven media, by a religious faith—by obligating one’s self to any system as above reproach or criticism is dangerous and harmful to the mind.
Anyway, you, Dr. Lafer, know all this already, but I wanted you to know that there are those out there, like me, who understand and applaud your efforts and are still thinking about it.
Always a fan of yours, Gordon Dills
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