Saturday, January 28, 2012

Propaganda 101: Control the language

Having grown up in Richmond, Virginia, I understand some things about a certain strain of conservatism. I know that to some conservatives any idea that challenges the establishment will be called “liberal.”

In the 1960s people who opposed the war in Vietnam were called “pinkos,” which was a pale shade of red -- meaning Bolshevik. Citizens who worked to end Jim Crow laws and segregation in public schools were accused of being in league with Moscow. The pinko label was also applied to those who were environmental activists.

Then, in the 1970s, right-to-life people who were opposed to the Roe vs. Wade decision on abortion -- those who wanted the government to regulate women's bodies -- claimed to be the true conservatives.

Today those who stand against the notion of “corporate personhood” are branded as liberals by those who agree with the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission Supreme Court decision. Taxpayers who insist there be no additional regulation of Wall Street appear to think they are being true to their conservative school.

In this view of the political landscape the self-named conservatives appear to see themselves as standing on the sensible middle ground. To simplify their point of view to high contrast, they see feudalism to the right of them and communism to the left. Fascism is frequently viewed as an aberration to be ignored. 

Confused yet?

Please note that none of the characterizations above really have had much to do with classic stances of the “left” and “right” on basic economics issues.

Many so-called conservatives seem to believe the mainstream media in the United States are inevitably left-leaning. Never mind that in order to believe that fanciful notion you’d have to be convinced that the millionaires who run the giant corporations behind the broadcast networks, the largest newspapers and periodicals, etc., are dupes.

Dupes, because over the decades they would have to have been consistently tricked by liberal writers and producers into presenting a left-leaning version of the news that runs against their financial interests.

Don’t most multinational corporations want to pay little or no taxes on their income? Why would big media bosses deliberately hire lefties? Why would corporations that profit from war insist that news reports about a war be presented from an antiwar standpoint?

In the last year we’ve seen conservatives decry the negatively slanted coverage of Tea Party stories, and at the same time they complained that the Occupy Wall Street movement received too much coverage ... of course, they see that coverage as having been too sympathetic.

Now for the unvarnished truth about this propagandistic labeling business: To the pickled-brains fans of Rush Limbaugh and Fox News, anything they don’t like is seen as liberal. That’s it. And, anything the Democrats favor, they are adamantly against. Even when they were in favor of it a year ago, if Obama is for it, then it’s another dastardly step toward "European socialism" to be avoided at all costs.

In such a strange world of tortured definitions a “conservative” president can launch an elective war over bogus reasons that drives America way deep into debt. Then, of course, it's "conservative" to blame the war debt on the Democratic president that follows ... while calling for another war to be set in motion.

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