Published in the Delaware County Daily Times May 6, 2020
By JOSEPH P. BATORY
Too many Americans are relying for news these days on outrageous social media tweets and biased “television and radio talking heads” who repeatedly convey the messages of the politically powerful. And, much of this “planted information” is full of inaccuracies, fabrications and often, outright lies.
“Truth” is now defined by those who shout the loudest on television and radio or anyone who posts the most outlandish things on social media or propagandists seeking to create “revisionist history.” The public is now treated as little more than “easy-to-influence cattle” to be herded down orchestrated pathways. As so, with many Americans glued to their electronic devices to understand their world, the result is reality is being distorted.
Before and during WW II,the Nazis understood too well that “controlled communication” through electronic media would be the best way to destroy analytical thinking among the people and to create “Third Reich truth.” At that time, that meant radio. So, the Nazis subsidized the distribution of Volksempfanger, (the people’s radio receiver) which regularly broadcasted only the Nazi party’s singular messages over and over to millions of German homes. The populace was soon brought under the spell of this Nazi radio communication. In Mein Kamp, Hitler cynically summarized this strategy: The majority of people are little more than a vacillating crowd of human children who are constantly wavering between one idea and another. Their conduct is ruled by “sentiment and feelings” rather… than by sober reasoning. In Hitler’s view, people were insecure and gullible targets and easily influenced; just tell them what to think and believe over and over and you will own them.
Today, there are indeed parallels to the Nazi methods here in America. Machiavellian persons have become expert in using electronic and social media propaganda to create a stream of misinformation aimed at winning over the minds of millions of citizens.
Certain electronic media telecasts and broadcasts here in the USA now feature non-stop dissemination of questionable and often false information to support those in power. Disciples (“spin doctors”) of the powerful ones then repeat the same messages over and over in a variety of media to create new “truth.” Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s propaganda minister, once explained how easy it was to con the general public: If you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it…the public is much more stupid (primitive) than we imagine. Just keep the propaganda simple and then repeat it over and over.
This “illusory truth effect,” is a glitch in the human psyche that equates repetition with truth. Marketers and certain politicians, especially in recent years here in the USA, have become masters of this method of public mind control.
The Nazis greatly feared in-depth and factual coverage by newspapers. So, Hitler targeted all newspapers which attempted to investigate and expose him. The term, Lügenpresse (“the lying press”), was used to convince the German public that newspaper questioning of Hitler’s regime was without merit.
The most unfriendly paper to Hitler was ransacked by Nazis and eventually closed. As the Nazis eventually took over the German free press, journalists were arrested and imprisoned and many were killed.
Not unlike Nazi Germany, questioning those in power these days is regularly demonized as being unpatriotic and disloyal to America. Acolytes of the powerful attack and discredit anyone looking too closely at the motives/actions of those in power by classifying all questioners as “hoax makers” and “perpetrators of fake news.”
Nazi demagogue, Hermann Göring, bragged in prison after the WW II about how easy it was to control the naïve public: To get the people in line, just tell them they are being subjected to dangerous enemies who will challenge their personal freedom and threaten their country. The Nazi idea was that naïve and fearful people would always jump on the bandwagon of whoever is leading this fight against enemies (e.g., all immigrants no matter how desperate their situations). Here in the USA, the powerful now “invent” enemies as one of the most effective ways to create and maintain loyal followers.
Additionally, those at the top of government and corporate power more than ever demand “blind loyalty.” The new despotic rules for their subservient ones are simple: Check your brain at the door. Honesty is prohibited; lying is preferred. Never admit a mistake and always blame others! If you see something wrong, just keep your mouth shut. Make waves and you will be destroyed personally and professionally! Almost every day, individuals who have dared to stand up against wrongdoing or questionable behavior have been publicly demeaned and discredited (essentially destroyed).
Money of course drives everything in America. Elections are bought. The Supreme Court is little more than “a political rubber stamper.” Legislation is for sale to the highest bidders and many elected officials are now controlled by well-financed lobbyists. Political appointees to high-level government positions no longer serve the people but rather, carry out the wishes of the powerful. Corporate greed is running wild. Environmental protection health and safety regulations governing business and industry are currently being pulled back by the government. And the goal of the “common good’ for all people has largely disappeared!
The point of all of this is that too many Americans are being kept in line too easily via repetitive and controlled propaganda primarily through the electronic/social media. Charlatans now use “Simple-Simon” repetitive propaganda to tell the American people what to think and believe. The track record of these villains in disseminating flawed and incorrect information has been working and continues to work quite well.
The issues for the future are: Has the American populace become too lazy to read and research and question the validity of the information that they are being spoon-fed via the electronic repetition and superficial social media bursts? Will this manipulation of the public by demagogues and puppets of the powerful continue to succeed? And will the USA’s democratic republic survive?
Joseph Batory is an op-ed writer whose primary topics are education, history, and politics.