American Propaganda

news stationsDid you know that the FBI creates broadcasts that mimic news reports, and disseminates them via ABC news, itunes, and other internet media? According to the Daily Signal, these reports often do not clearly identify the broadcast as a government issued broadcast, that has been made with tax dollars, and paints the FBI in a positive light. The reports are surrounded by similar sounding segments that are not U.S. government made propaganda.

With public agencies in the quasi-news business, should their products also carry a disclosure to avoid the same confusion? Should they clearly tell listeners that the message is generated using their tax dollars?

“The only thing we’re promoting is public awareness so, no, I don’t think there is a need for a label,” the FBI’s McKee told me. “Within each program the narrator clearly identifies herself as an FBI employee and the programs are found on official FBI sites/pages.”

In fact, in the Aug. 15 story on “FBI This Week,” the narrator doesn’t clearly identify herself as an FBI employee. The segment follows a typical news format where the reporter signs off with the location of the assignment and the title of the feature. But to those who are listening closely, the positive message is the clue that there’s a government sponsor.

So it got me thinking, if this is the propaganda we know about, what are we hearing from “non-government sources” that is actually indeed, just propaganda? The fact that the U.S. government feeds U.S. citizens bulk lies is not controversial. Operation Mockingbird is a documented government program that had thousands of mainstream journalists on U.S. government pay since 1953 and included publications like the Washington Post, Time Magazine, People Magazine, and Newsweek to name a few. And just recently documents show that the U.S. government currently seeks to influence public opinion via social media, with paid “trolls” to comment on news articles, and insert their ideas or misinformation or just confusion into Facebook and twitter. To what extent are we influenced by lies, useful for and propagated by the U.S. government?

What if the propaganda was so bad that “facts” about countries like North Korea, Iran, and Cuba were not really facts? I don’t actually think it goes that deep, but it does make me wonder. With so little travel to the three countries by Americans, it is conceivable that certain misconceptions could be easily construed by our own government, posing as media. But as always, the bottom line is: never trust the government.

Beliefs Should Withstand Scrutiny, or Be Changed

Thomas Sowell knows about academia; he spent most of his life employed by universities. Therefore his warnings about the problems with colleges and what they are teaching young people who will one day run the world deserve some attention. Sowell wrote an article instructing parents how to minimize the damage done by biased professors (or biased media), and the best strategy for “waging the war” against flawed, politically correct ideas. He likens the battle of ideas to the strategy of McArthur during WWII.

Instead of fighting the Japanese for every island stronghold as the Americans advanced toward Japan, MacArthur sent his troops into battle for only those islands that were strategically crucial. In the same spirit, parents who want to bring their brainwashed offspring back to reality need not try to combat every crazy idea they picked up from their politically correct professors. Just demolishing a few crucial beliefs, and exposing what nonsense they are, can deal a blow to the general credibility of the professorial pied pipers.

Common Core is a flawed centralization initiative which should make many question the goals and competency of a centralized government. It is easy too debunk the theory that Common Core is good for students, parents and teachers, and this lesson can then be applied to other areas. If the federal government fails at centralizing education standards and educating youth properly, then will they be able the centralize healthcare and properly deliver care? Since both sides of the isle have come together to criticize Common Core, it is easiest to start by tearing down the myth surrounding that big government initiation, and let the lesson sink in before trying to tackle a more ideologically divisive issue like the Affordable Care Act–though its flaws stem from the same philosophy which gave us Common Core.

And I think Sowell’s strategy can be used when dealing with many flawed ideas that people have picked up from the biased media, or from misinformed friends. Healthy skepticism used to be a key part of learning. Good teachers and professors would teach students that not everything can be taken at face value, and the real trick was not to learn information, but to learn how to process information in a logical and critical way. When we first view things critically, if we can find no flaws, this should in the end strengthen our convictions. There is no reason why any good idea cannot stand a little bit of scrutiny. Being the devil’s advocate when new information is presented to you may make you unpopular in certain spheres, but it will certainly leave you with a better understanding of whatever subject is being discussed. Asking questions is a good way to weed out someone who is blindly repeating what they have heard, versus a person who has a grasp over the idea they are trying to convey.

Sowell gives some examples of the types of false or misleading information students may return from college with, and good sources to debunk these myths.

Although Britain is the setting for “Life at the Bottom,” Americans will recognize very similar patterns here. Problems found in low-income black ghettoes in the United States are found in low-income white neighborhoods in Britain, where none of the usual excuses about racism, slavery, etc., apply. The only thing that is the same in both countries is the welfare state and its poisonous ideology.

What Sowell suggests to parents dealing with brainwashed children is to pick your battles. Crush the most flawed ideas, or the ones you know a lot about, and it will lead to skepticism of other similar ideas, and skepticism of the people disseminating those ideas. Find common ground, like many have found in opposition to Common Core, and use that example to explain why similar programs are just as damaging. I find that sometimes asking questions is a more promising method of debunking myths people hold, versus preaching.

Sometimes students will be taught correct information, and sometimes they will be taught flawed information, but the hostility to open discussion in some arenas is concerning. Good ideas, correct ideas, and facts never have to fear open discussion. If someone tells you the debate has been settled, that should set off a red flag that maybe they don’t know what they are talking about. I think that if a person holds a belief, they should be able to discuss and defend it at length, and an attempt to prematurely close a discussion seems to suggest a shallow understanding of the subject. I welcome the chance to be stumped while having a discussion, the only possibility is that I come away from the situation with a better understanding of my own beliefs and stronger convictions, or change my mind after a more accurate assessment of the topic at hand.