People of the U.S. often fail to notice the methods their own government uses to do what amounts to brainwashing them. The book Manufacturing Consent by Edward S. Hermann and Noam Chomsky details how U.S. corporate-controlled mainstream media outlets (today that includes mainstream TV “news” networks, most mainstream magazines, newspapers, etc.) act as propagandists. Another excellent source on U. S. media propaganda is Michael Parenti’s book, Inventing Reality.
When mainstream TV, magazines, newspapers and mainstream Internet sites all repeat the same false talking points over and over, they’re often deliberately attempting to brainwash, rather than inform, the public. Their motive is usually to gain mass public support for something that brings dishonest politicians and the oligarchy money and power. For example, they often propagandize the public to support illicit war for profit.
Today’s political propagandists pretend only the right wing criticizes them, but many on the left oppose misleading propaganda as well. I’m politically progressive, don’t like Biden or Trump because they are both far too right wing in my view. However, I think the extremist push to “get Trump” and paint him as inciting the January 6 protest are obvious efforts to manipulate the public’s thinking. Trump encouraged the protesters to “fight”, but to “fight” politically has traditionally been used to simply mean to battle verbally, to argue, or to boycott or strike. He didn’t specify or urge physical violence.
This opinion piece has nothing to do with minimizing the harm done by any actual violence on January 6. Violence should never be condoned and is a separate issue from protests in general. Instead this is about being aware of ways the U.S. government is now employing methods long used to promote propaganda, to discourage even peaceful protests, and to influence the public mind. The current government manipulation is a way of manufacturing consent, or as Michael Parenti called it, inventing reality.
What is the U.S. government likely to gain by manipulating the public into dropping their critical thinking skills and becoming lost in emotional rage, and by turning the public against protest and implying that all forms of dissent are possibly “insurrection” or sedition? (1) The focus on Trump and January 6 turns the public’s attention away from the country’s many other problems, including the fact that we’re the world’s only advanced nation without an adequate healthcare system. It also distracts us from the urgent need for environmental reform. (2) If the powers that be can get most Americans to focus on only Trump, there will be no focus on the U.S. politicians responsible for turning the U.S. into an oligarchy, with much money funneled away from the middle class to the wealthiest one percent. [Source] (3) If the powerful corrupt politicians can increase penalties for even peaceful protests, they’ll frighten and shame innocent people and prevent them from needed legitimate protesting, (4) If the public can be manipulated into believing that only right-wing racists and fascists refuse to accept government propaganda and authoritarianism, the left can be intimidated through guilt by association and through fear of being identified with the right wing.
People should walk the fine line between too much skepticism and not enough. Excessive suspicion is doubt not supported by evidence. Healthy skepticism is based on reality, including the U. S. government’s characteristic way of using disinformation to control public opinion throughout history. The thing that should give people pause and keep them aiming toward a balance of skepticism is the fact that the U.S. government has a long and well documented legacy of using widely-known propaganda techniques on the U.S. public. For anyone who doubts the U.S. government routinely propagandizes the public, at least read the two books mentioned above, which provide many additional reference sources and essentially prove this is true beyond any doubt. If the U.S. population likes to be maneuvered and more or less brainwashed by their own government, they’re free to do that. However, thoughtful skepticism, independent research and honest scrutiny are preferable.
Carla Binion is an Intrepid Report contributing writer.