Propaganda distracts from real issues
On Oct. 30, 1938, CBS radio host Orson Welles broadcast a version of H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds on his Mercury Theater radio show. He staged an ongoing alien invasion happening in New Jersey as he spoke. American listeners believed the news was real, and it caused massive panic across the nation.
The panic continued even after it was reported a hoax. The U.S. government soon began using propaganda to influence their public. In 1948, a ban was placed on such propaganda under the United States Information and Exchange Act of 1948.
Congress secretly lifted the 65 year ban on July 2, 2013, and the 1948 Act was rewritten as the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012 (SMMA). It now allows baseless government foreign policy propaganda to be broadcast inside America.
Those trumpeting the legislature, such as Helle Dale from the Heritage Foundation, claim that now Americans can tune into Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) international dissemination of U.S. governmental propaganda such as Voice of America (VOA) right here in the U.S.
But the downside clearly emulates that there will be no oversight or accountability, allowing the State Department free reign to spread any propaganda they deem necessary to influence public opinion, both domestically and abroad. Moreover, the Act is attached to the new and highly controversial National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which is widely believed to be a slippery slope toward a military state.
Government propaganda has historically been a state instrument of war, and certainly still is, previously used on foreign enemies. Now that the government is legally allowed to feed U.S. citizens propaganda at will, are we considered at war with our government?
The original 1948 Act was put into place to prevent the overreaction to communism that lead to vilification of innocent American citizens during the Cold War. It was also intended to thwart McCarthy-type extremes that led to the brutal internment of innocent Japanese Americans. There has been a special interests call to lift the ban ever since 9/11, which Congress secretly did in 2012.
Interestingly, one month prior to putting the SMMA in force, Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald published secret National Security Administration documents, leaked to him from U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden. The documents revealed unbridled illegal NSA spying on all American citizens with no warrant or just cause.
One month after on Aug. 2nd, the State Department issued a worldwide travel caution, and the government propaganda machine went into full throttle. Various officials from our Executive Branch, and the State Department specifically, reported terror threats and closures of U.S. Embassies and consulates, suspiciously in 19 countries we aim to either forcefully control, or where we support nefarious dictators that oppress their populations. Nothing came of the threats.
With chilling urgency it was announced that a conference call between Al-Qaeda’s once dead and buried, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and some bad guys had been, a little too amazingly intercepted by the NSA. Republican Senators Lindsey Graham, Saxby Chambliss and Representative Dutch Ruppersberger were immediately broadcast cheering for the NSA.
It is obvious that making claims of terror threats and intercepting calls from dead men props up the badly bruised reputation of the NSA. War is the most lucrative industry in the U.S.
By Snowden putting the government in a pinch, they now have to invent facts to validate their claims. The best way to accomplish that is with propaganda.
There is great manipulative utility in media. Americans can name movie stars more easily than the members of the U.S. President’s cabinet. They believe that Disneyland is “the happiest place on Earth” regardless of scorching long lines and high cost. Distraction is a friend to the war industry.
Our country would be a marvelous place if we all turned off the electronics, silenced the propaganda and got actively involved in politics for a change.