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The Anatomy of a Republican Propaganda Campaign
Of the various explanations for Scott Walker’s recall victory in Wisconsin, Deborah Foster’s article on the value of framing the issues is the most compelling and the most viable.
The GOP’s propaganda is well orchestrated, simple and powerful. The stuff is powerful to the point that we don’t realize it’s happening to us. We would like to think we are above it, or at least intelligent enough to recognize it when it comes knocking on our doors, in the form of “fair and balanced” reporting or as a commercial.
After all, commercials are really just about providing snippets of information, be it to inform of us a product or a person. In politics, commercials are really just about informing us about politicians, their ideas or the horrible things the other guy has done.
For our mockery of the GOP’s goosestepping in unison as they repeat the same talking points over and over again, the reality is, it’s a tried and true technique. Be it for something as innocuous as selling jeans or something more sinister, communicating the same message over and over again, compels us to act on the message and makes it possible to believe the absurd. One classic example is the lie that President Obama is a secret Muslim, Kenyan, who came up with this sinister plan to take the presidency in the United States prior to his birth,
Another classic example of this is seen in “fast and furious”. Unlike the test marketed talking points on health care and tax reform, the mythology from which GOP propaganda on fast and furious had comparatively more humble beginnings in the person of Michael Vanderboegh on his blog, Sipsy Street Irregulars.
Vanderboegh’s previous accomplishments include calling on conservatives to throw bricks through the windows of Democratic Party representatives’ offices to protest access to affordable health care.
On March 19. 2011 he wrote, in part:
“The time has come to take your life, your liberty and that of your children and grandchildren into your own two hands and ACT.
It is, after all, more humane than shooting them in self-defense.
And if we do a proper job, if we break the windows of hundreds, thousands, of Democrat party headquarters across this country, we might just wake up enough of them to make defending ourselves at the muzzle of a rifle unnecessary.
Sons of Liberty, this is your time.
Break their windows.
Break them NOW.”
And Nancy, if this be sedition, if this be treason in your eyes, then make the most of it.”
Vanderboegh’s attention turned to “Fast and Furious” as a consequence of rumors he heard about the circumstances surround the death of Border Patrol agent, Brian Terry. As reported by Mother Jones in its profile of the right wing blogger.
A large, ruddy fellow with white hair and a mischievous smile, he had played a key role in turning Fast and Furious into a national scandal. From his home in Pinson, Alabama, Vanderboegh writes a little-known, far-right blog called Sipsey Street Irregulars. Last December, in a post titled, “Border Patrol agent killed with ATF-smuggled AR? Some ATF agents seem to think so,” he reported on rumors flying around law enforcement circles about the death of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry. Two weeks earlier, Terry and his team had been tracking a Mexican “rip crew”—who specialize in robbing drug smugglers—in Nogales, Arizona. Shots were fired and Terry was hit in the back. He died the next day.
His explanation for “fast and furious” is so blatantly absurd, yet it his followers, who include Mr. Fast and Furious himself, Darrell Issa heed his words. The NRA adapted his … theory. Notable conservative publications like The Daily Caller, the Free Republic and the Examiner, lending “legitimacy” to the rantings of someone who is immeasurably off the rails.
Maddow, by the way, perhaps reserved her most caustic scorn for the idea that the “Gunwalker” debacle was a scheme to justify more restrictive gun regulation. This “conspiracy theory,” according to Maddow, could only have sprung from the twisted mind of Mike Vanderboegh, given mass media credence by Fox News, and believed by that station’s insipid viewers.
Again, though, she ignores that CBS has presented proof that “gunwalked” guns were used to justify more draconian “gun control.” You will never hear that from Maddow, though. She, instead, would have you believe that the Department of “Justice” had no thoughts of more oppressive “gun laws,” and was instead merely engaged in “Underpants Gnome” police work.
Yes, there are people who make decisions about everything from tax policy to our relations with the world who listen to this kook.
One may dismiss the musings of a guy who sees a conspiracy at every turn when “only” a few backward people follow his words. When those words reach the eyes of prominent members of the conservative elite, persecutions happen. The reality is as crazy as this stuff is, we can’t leave things at dismissing it. To do so would be at the peril of anything resembling the American the founding fathers envisioned.
Freedom, civil rights, rewards for hard work would be replaced with their polar opposites. Even if we argue that we get the governments we deserve, our children deserve much better than this.
This is what propaganda can do. We’re on the defensive when it comes to framing the issues, adopting terminology like “job creators” and “Obamacare.” If we keep this up, the Republican Party will rule our ability to think for ourselves and our freedoms into oblivion. We’ll be akin to the stepford wives, complete with blank stares as we mindlessly repeat the sort of things that any rational person can see is blatantly absurd while people like Vanderboegh do our thinking for us.
Image from Democratic Underground