Recently, we learned that “stimulus plans” are now “safety nets” – the latest addition to the Obama argot of more palatable phrases. In essence, there is nothing wrong with “stimulus plan,” except that it is now linked, in our collective mindset, with bailouts and trillion-dollar taxpayer debt. “Safety net” makes you feel protected, comfortable and less-stressed about the government incurring an astonishing national debt and that’s the point: safety nets are good things, like money saved for a rainy day, a bulging piggy bank, 401k or a reliable benefactor.
On the other hand, stimulus plans bring to mind Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, AIG, CitiBank, automobile manufacturer bailouts, exorbitant executive severance packages and luxurious corporate spa vacations. All of these issues and catastrophes are fresh in our minds and we remember that stimulus plans were put in place to, supposedly, salvage our economy and restore equilibrium in the marketplace.
Shall I put this language massage in context? It’s called PROPAGANDA.
“Propaganda is the deliberate, systematic attempt to shape perceptions, manipulate cognitions, and direct behavior to achieve a response that furthers the desired intent of the propagandist.” – Garth S. Jowett and Victoria O’Donnell, “Propaganda and Persuasion”
To be fair, propaganda is a tool that groups and individuals have used since time immemorial; every country has used propaganda at some time, in some way – including the United States.
The current administration uses propaganda in a very traditional manner, much like the Nazi’s did during WWII. Obama propaganda seeks to influence our thoughts, opinions and beliefs by taking seemingly unpleasant facts or words, regardless of proper usage, and replacing them with gentler, less scary or threatening expressions.
The relationships and attitudes of the current administration bring to mind the relationship between Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s propaganda architect and head of Nazi Germany’s Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda. Hitler valued Goebbels brilliance as a propagandist and installed him in a grand office near his own; they met often to discuss how to present information to the masses in a way that bolstered their political goals.
The purpose of the Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda was to promote the Nazi Party line and control German culture and society through its media and artists. All members of the media, writers, and artists were required to register with the Ministry and obtain permission before publishing or broadcasting their work. The Nazis also produced films, books and posters to support their party, enhance Hitler’s deified public image (courtesy of Goebbels) and propagate Nazi precepts.
One cannot over-emphasize the importance that Hitler, Goebbels and the Nazi party placed on the usefulness of propaganda in their military objectives. The Nazi propaganda campaign was successful in creating a messianic image of its leader and justifying its strategies to the populace, but Germany lost the war due to Hitler’s tactical miscalculations, his narcissism and belief in the infallible “der Fuhrer” persona that Goebbels created. Of course, Germany’s inability to repel the determination and might of Allied Forces also contributed to the Nazi military failure. (That’s my over-simplified recap; I don’t want to write a thesis on WWII.)
It is not truth that matters, but victory” – Adolf Hitler
Can you visualize a similar scenario with Obama and David Axelrod or Rahm Emanuel?
Luckily for Mr. Obama, the mainstream media, including Internet news and blog sites, are already onboard with the administration’s propaganda policies. In fact, they volunteered prior to the election, thus negating the need for our own Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda – for now.
It’s important to note that the Obama White House is currently engaged in a “war” on Fox News, accusing the news organization of being in league with or an arm of the Republican Party, while other conservative broadcasters and writers are routinely denigrated or denied interview requests by this liberal administration.
We know that past presidents had “feuds” with various media due to unflattering reportage, but declaring war on a particular organization is alarming; our First Amendment rights are precious and we cannot be passive as Mr. Obama puts our Bill of Rights in his sights.
Conservative journalists and broadcasters are concerned about attempts by the left-wing to revive the Fairness Doctrine which requires broadcasters to provide opposing views on issues of national importance. Many fear the federal government mandating debate and opposing opinions to views expressed by our media and with good reason; it’s a first step to controlling our freedom of speech.
The Fairness Doctrine was abolished in 1987 during the Reagan administration. Last February, Republican Senator Jim DeMint, South Carolina, proposed the Broadcaster Freedom Act; legislation that prevents the Federal Communications Commission from re-instating the Fairness Doctrine. Sen. DeMint’s bill passed, 87-11. However, Senator Richard Durbin, Democrat, Illinois, countered with an amendment that essentially negates Sen. DeMint’s amendment. Sen. Durbin’s amendment passed, 57-41.
While Mr. Obama professes to oppose the Fairness Doctrine, it has not deterred liberal senators from attempting to revive it through cleverly crafted “stealth” amendments, such as legislation that encourages media diversity. Regardless of Obama’s public position, we must be vigilant and wary of our leaders’ true agendas.
“Great ambition, the desire of real superiority, of leading and directing, seems to be altogether peculiar to man, and speech is the great instrument of ambition.” – Adam Smith
Language management falls in line with message manipulation; when the government takes charge of the media, our First Amendment rights are annulled.
You’ve heard this cliché before: words have power. Under Mr. Obama’s governance, words are manipulated to mislead and mask potential dangers to our lives, economy and our country’s security (see aforementioned blogs). His propaganda is verbal kool-aid for the masses; drink deeply and consume great quantities and you’ll find yourself taxed to financial insolvency and vulnerable to the very real threats our nation faces.
This is my third blog on the topic of our new government’s propaganda/language wrangling; the unapologetic exploitation of information in order to make us acquiesce, accept and agreeable to Mr. Obama’s plans is organically offensive to me.
Those of us who work in communications-related professions understand that words are the proverbial two-edged sword; one can influence, in a positive or negative manner, opinion by the choice and use of vocabulary. We understand and respect language – it is our livelihood, passion and domain. Messing with the message, particularly by politicians and news outlets, is commonplace and it is not harmless. It is a form of brain-washing and in the hands of Obama’s administration, media sycophants and czars; it is dangerous and inexcusable to use liberal newspeak to dupe the American people.
A word of warning for those who will listen: don’t allow yourself to be comforted or misled by some clever lingo legerdemain – demand honesty, in plain, unadulterated expression from the powers that be and always listen between the lines … that is where you may find the truth.
“How fortunate for governments that the people they administer don’t think.” – Adolf Hitler