The Insidious Power Of Propaganda
Wednesday - January 17, 2007
Watching Public Television last Monday (Jan. 8), my confidence in the value of PBS was strongly reinforced. Anti-Semitism in the 21st Century: The Resurgence, a documentary hosted by Judy Woodruff, traced the violence in Europe against Jews and Jewish institutions - violence which has more than doubled in the past decade.
The impact was twofold. First, the program, as its title suggests, documented the very real and troubling rise in anti-semitism and its violent manifestations across the Muslim world (no surprise) and in Europe, especially as Muslim immigration there has risen to unprecedented heights. Balanced narration and analysis by scholarly historians and sociologists traced the history of anti-semitism, from the fall of the Ottoman Empire to the return of the Jews to the Holy Land and to the present.
The narrative generally attributes the rise in violence to the effectiveness of the vitriolic and pervasive Islamic propaganda emanating from the Arab world, which influences Muslims in the non-Arab world as well. The Islamic rendition of Jewish history features the myth of a Jewish manifesto-like document that supposedly outlines the Zionist plan to take over the political, financial and industrial institutions of the world, and to spread by coercion the influence of Judaism. The nadir of this dis-information is the myth that Jews kidnap and sacrifice little non-Jewish boys for their blood, which is then used as an ingredient in their ceremonial Passover bread.
Inspired mostly in Syria and Iran, and through every possible media vehicle - radio, television, newspapers, cartoons, posters, literature, lectures, music, madrasahs, secular schools - Jews are depicted as pigs, dogs and rats, as grotesque, bloodthirsty monsters, as Hitlers and devils, and the star of David is equated to the Nazi swastika. Syria has produced a TV series about an extended Jewish family and the “evil” values by which it functions. The series’popularity across the Muslim world compares to that of our Dallas and Dynasty series’, and the more recent The Sopranos. Of course, one episode of the series features two of the family patriarchs in a dark basement sacrificing a little Christian boy for his blood for the holiday baking.
This is the media fare that permeates Muslim minds across the Middle East, and thanks to satellite technology, in Europe and anywhere else where they cling to their home culture, in part because of their inability (or disinclination) to assimilate. As one documentary narrator put it, this is the “elevator music” that is the Muslim’s constant companion. One result, among others, is murderous fanaticism.
The second lesson from the documentary was the effectiveness of propaganda, much of which I had experienced in communist North Vietnam, and I’m sad to point out, present today in our own country. Although not as sensational as the government-sponsored lies, slander and deceit of the Arab world, the more sophisticated agenda of America’s privately owned for-profit mainstream media is every bit as insidious.
Think about it. When is the last time you opened a newspaper (aside from MidWeek) that did not prominently highlight U.S. war casualties, sometimes with a black frame, or did not feature a picture of the civilian carnage of a suicide blast, or of a teary-eyed Iraqi child swathed in bloody bandages. It is a rare newspaper that does not feature anti-Bush or anti-war cartoons at a rate of 10 to 1. Late-night TV hosts revel in the rhetoric of anti-Bush sarcasm and innuendo. Popular, normally apolitical TV sitcoms and dramas are scripted with subtle ridicule of the president and his style. Anti-war “intellectualism” is the common curriculum in our universities. And Big Brother CNN’s anti-Bush/anti-war agenda is pervasive in every airport and public building waiting area. This, my friends, is our “elevator music”! Be conscious of it.
Is it any wonder the president’s and the war’s approval rating is at an all-time low? Propaganda works.
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