Propaganda 102: Holly Would and the Power of Images

by Gene Howington, Guest Blogger

Graphic art such as posters, paintings and film can be and often are considered works of art. Can propaganda using these mediums be considered art? Propaganda posters are considered art by many and in the design industry “propaganda” is considered a style all its own. Consider these examples and decide if you think they constitute art as well as propaganda.

Join the Turley Force as we discuss yet another facet of propaganda!

This means you!

“We Can Do It!” a.k.a. “Rosie the Riveter” is one of the best known iconic images in American culture.

As the last instalment in this series discussed, not all propaganda is verbal. Some propaganda images have become iconic parts of our culture. Rosie the Riveter is a perfect example of an image created as propaganda that has moved on to become something else altogether in our cultural subconscious. Images, like words, have both denotative and connotative value. The imagery, iconography and symbolism of the subject matter can influence your thinking on a subject as surely as words do and such choices as color, composition and fonts can have an even subtler but equally profound psychological effect on the viewer.

World War I and World War II were pinnacles in the use of the propaganda poster. Most of these examples come from American, British and Russian propaganda from those eras. One of the first thing that becomes apparent when studying the history of propaganda in this medium is that there are thematic commonalities.  Join the military (as the gallery at the beginning of this article illustrates), support the troops/bring them home, commemoration of a date or event, buy war bonds, careful to who you talk to and what about, strength through unity, save materials for use in the war effort, the soldiers are protecting you and/or threatened, the bad guys are really bad (possibly even sub-human).  This is not an all inclusive list of themes to be certain, but the following galleries contain examples of propaganda posters grouped by like theme. Some of them are graphically appealing in their design on a purely aesthetic level. Some of them are direct. Some are appeals to emotion. Some are appeals to nationalism. Some work to define “the Other”. They all carry a message.

Commemorative Messages:

Buy War Bonds:

Be Careful What You Say And Who You Talk To:

Save Materials:

Produce To Support The Troops:

These Are Really Bad Guys:

Does the fact that they carry a message negate their artistic merit? If you answered yes, consider the last instalment of this series on architecture as propaganda and ask yourself that question again.  Does the propaganda power of the Great Pyramid or Abu Simbel automatically negate their artistic merit? I think the only reasonable answer is no. Both are not only amazing works of architecture, but artfully done as well. Now ask yourself does the content of the message matter in your evaluation? Does remoteness in time change your willingness to see propaganda as art? Consider these examples of Nazi propaganda posters.

Can you consider these works on artistic merit or does the message – and its attendant closeness in time – prevent you?

What if a noted and famous artist produced a propaganda painting?  Is that art simply because of the creator’s bona fides in the art world?  Consider the work of famous American painter Thomas Hart Benton.  Titled “The Sowers”, it is part of an eight piece series of paintings Benton did in the 1940’s depicting the violence and barbarity of fascism. From 1942, it is the portrait of a brutish, monster-like man sowing not seeds, but skulls:

“The Sowers” by Thomas Hart Benton

To further demonstrate the style in and of itself, what about propaganda posters designed as a tie-in to entertainment or as direct advertising?

Faux-Propaganda Posters for the (excellent) 2003-2008 television series “Battlestar Galactica”:

Candy Marches On!:

Personally, I’m a fan of Green . . .

Mass media changed the face of propaganda.  Mass produced newspapers, film, radio, television and the Internet all changed the way those with a message they wanted to sell and opinions they wanted to shape went about their mission.  In America, some would say in the world, there is no greater producer of media than Hollywood.  New York places a strong second, but their speciality since the early days of the industry has been television. In a way, film and television – despite their more transitory nature than something like great works of architecture – have become our modern cultural monuments of choice.

Animation is the nexus of graphic arts and film and it has been used for propaganda both here and abroad.  A fair warning, these cartoons feature racist and/or dehumanizing characterizations about whatever “Other” they are trying to portray as the enemy. Although animation is not strictly for children, it holds a strong attraction for them, and these examples can be considered exemplary of one of the lowest tactics of propaganda – that which is aimed at children – and reflecting a maxim in propaganda that it is best to “catch them young”.

Bugs Bunny in Nip the Nips:

Daffy Duck in Daffy the Commando:

A Russian example with subtitles – The Millionaire:

A Nazi war propaganda cartoon aimed at the French to convince them that the Allies were attacking them as well:

Poster for the 1940 propaganda film “Jud Süß”

In cinema, it is no different. The history of film used officially as propaganda traces its roots to World War II. Before the war, Germany was a hub of European cinema. Exploiting this asset, the Nazis had the Ministry of Propaganda under the leadership of Joseph Goebbels driving the production of antisemitic films like “Jud Süß“, “Die Rothschilds” and “Der ewige Jude“.  In addition, the Third Reich was heavily involved in the production of the more nationalistic fare of films like Leni Riefenstahl‘s documentaries.  Of her two most famous works, one is considered the most famous propaganda film in history. “Triumph des Willens” or “Triumph of the Will” is about Hitler and the rise of the Nazi Party to power.  Her second most famous works are the pair of films known collectively as “Olympia” (“Olympia 1. Teil — Fest der Völker ” (Festival of Nations) and “Olympia 2. Teil — Fest der Schönheit” (Festival of Beauty)) that chronicle the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. The Nazi co-opting of the German film industry had the not so surprising effect of driving out some of their top talent who fled to Hollywood, such as actress Hedy Lamarr (who also aided the Allied war effort in her role as an inventor – a very interesting and insanely beautiful woman) and directors such as Fritz Lang and Otto Preminger.

In the United States during World War II, we had the Office of Wartime Information (OWI). Despite the fact that the overall net effect of propaganda of World War I was negative with many Americans feeling the propaganda from the previous war was not only misinformation, but possibly human rights violations, the Roosevelt administration went forward with a full media blitz from posters to radio to cinema.  Some of the films were pure propaganda such as the series of films produced by Frank Capra at the behest of General George C. Marshall.  Called “Why We Fight”, the series consisted of seven films made from 1942 to 1945: “Prelude to War” (1942), “The Nazis Strike” (1943), “Divide and Conquer” (1943), “The Battle of Britain” (1943), “The Battle of Russia” (1943), “The Battle of China” (1944), and “War Comes to America” (1945). They made no pretence to be anything other than what they were – propaganda.

Poster for “Casablanca” – 1942.

Other films, however, worked in to the efforts of the OWI and were more commercial in nature. Did you know that “Casablanca” was propaganda? The hero of the film, Rick Blaine, is a man with an anti-fascist past who despite his personal misgivings and personal motivations to the contrary works to help his former lover and her freedom fighter husband escape the claws of the Nazis. The message is distinctly anti-Nazi and anti-fascism. That the film is art is practically without question as when you mention the very term “classic cinema” it is practically synonymous with “Casablanca”.  Other films of the period were similarly slanted in their messages and some, like he 1942 film “Mrs. Miniver” (which told the story of an English housewife during the Battle of Britain and urged the support for the war effort) were even rushed into release at Presidential request.  “The Purple Heart” (1944)  dramatized Japanese atrocities and the heroics of American flyers. “Hitler’s Children” (1943) told the story of an American girl declared German by the Nazi government and her trials and tribulations with the Hitler Youth. “Dive Bomber” (1941) tells the heroic story of a military surgeon working with a Navy flying ace to develop pressure suits to keep pilots from blacking out in steep dives. These are but a few of many such examples of commercial films made with directed political messages. Even after World War II, the Hollywood/Washington propaganda nexus is alive and well.

The tail-end of Red Scare of the McCarthy era and the burgeoning Cold War brought us the rather unusual movie “Zots!” (1962).  “Zots!” tells the story of a language professor who comes into possession of an ancient magic coin that gives him the power to inflict pain, slow down time or kill. In no time at all, Communist spies are out to get him and steal the coin for their own nefarious purposes. Directed by scholck-meister William Castle – best known for his cheesy horror films, “Zotz!” most certainly is a film, but it is so bad I don’t think anyone would mistake it for art.  But anti-Communist propaganda? Without a doubt. The 1960’s and early 1970’s brought the United States the very unpopular Viet Nam War. It also brought us films like the highly unrealistic and jingoistic John Wayne fare, “The Green Berets” (1968). Today we are again involved in an unpopular war and again we have pro-war propaganda from Hollywood in the form of 2112’s “Act of Valor” where an elite team of Navy SEALs embark on a covert mission to recover a kidnapped CIA agent. Have you seen a commercial for this film? They are very proud of the fact that it stars not actors, but active duty Navy SEALs. Propaganda at its finest (?).

Television is no better. Much of what passes for entertainment is either direct propaganda or has propagandistic elements. Consider “Dragnet” – possibly the original pro-police propaganda program.  A more modern example? Consider the show “NCIS” and its spin-off “NCIS: Los Angeles”, all of the programming on the Military History channel, and the consequential commercial advertising that supports most networks persuading you to buy things you may or most likely do not need. On most networks you are guaranteed at least twenty minutes out of every hour being devoted to persuade your or change your mind based on the interests of those who may or may not have your best interests at heart. I would say that as Americans you are awash in a sea of never ending propaganda, but the reality of the matter is that mass media has become a practically unavoidable global phenomena. Where mass media goes, propaganda surely follows. It is up to you to think for yourself and not succumb to the subliminal and overt efforts of others to think for you. That doesn’t mean you have to live in a cave. That means you have to consider what you see dispassionately even if it is something you enjoy or that entertains you in some way.

Can propaganda be considered art? I think that some of it most certainly can be, but that it is part and parcel of the idea of persuasion to make the idea being presented attractive. It is not art though merely because it is pretty. Something about it must transcend both the intentional message and the method of presentation to reach something universally human to truly be art.  The perfect example of this is “Casablanca”. Enjoy it. I know I certainly do. However, I also keep in the back of my mind that it is a form of propaganda. Being aware of and asking the right questions about propaganda is the first step in protecting yourself from its undue influence.

Can propaganda be considered art?

Does intent of the speaker color the artistic merit of the piece?

Does remoteness in time affect the relationship of message to artistic merit?

What do you think?

As a reminder: when carrying on the fight to make sure you understand when propaganda is being used to manipulate you, be vigilant, thoughtful and emotionally detached when considering whether something is or isn’t propaganda. And above all . . .

The first line of defense against propaganda is you!

__________________________

Disclaimer: All images used are either public domain or copyright of their respective copyright holder, used without permission and used for not-for-profit educational/illustrative purposes.

~submitted by Gene Howington, Guest Blogger

The Propaganda Series;

Propaganda 105: How to Spot a Liar

Propaganda 104 Supplemental: The Streisand Effect and the Political Question

Propaganda 104 Supplemental: The Sound of Silence

Propaganda 104: Magica Verba Est Scientia Et Ars Es

Propaganda 103: The Word Changes, The Word Remains The Same

Propaganda 102 Supplemental: Holly Would “Zero Dark Thirty”

Propaganda 101 Supplemental: Child’s Play

Propaganda 101 Supplemental: Build It And They Will Come (Around)

Propaganda 101: What You Need to Know and Why or . . .

Related articles of interest;

Mythology and the New Feudalism by Mike Spindell

How about Some Government Propaganda for the People Paid for by the People Being Propagandized? by Elaine Magliaro

 

195 thoughts on “Propaganda 102: Holly Would and the Power of Images

  1. Gene H. 1, June 22, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    I ran across this article today that dovetails with the subject of cinema as propaganda.
    =========================
    Good lead Gene. I want to check that out to.

    I have read many articles over time about the strong influence the Pentagon has over “Holly Would” and what they produce.

    Strong surges usually happen when they need a boost of some sort, but there is general propaganda most all of the time.

  2. I ran across this article today that dovetails with the subject of cinema as propaganda. It was written by Eric Alterman, a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and a CUNY distinguished professor of English and journalism at Brooklyn College and published on the Center for American Progress website. He looks at a film that I, like Professor Alterman before writing his article, was previously unaware of: The Fearmakers (1958) starring Dana Andrews and directed by the brilliant Jacques Tourneur. A very observant piece by Prof. Alterman that I highly recommend, it has now put me on a mission to see the film in question.

    “Think Again: Fearmaking, Then and Now

    By Eric Alterman | June 21, 2012”

    http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2012/06/ta_062112.html

  3. Michael Murry 1, June 21, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    Dredd,
    ….
    So again I ask, as I did above, what do the comments made by Mark McKinnon reveal about the propaganda strategies and tactics employed by these neo-totalitarians in light of what both Ron Suskind and Sheldon Wolin have written about their ultimate project? I would really like to discuss these questions because I find them fascinating. Frightening, sure, but fascinating none the less.
    ================================================
    Ok, let me fuse it with my statement above:

    Revisionist history is a form of propaganda, however it is not art, unless perhaps accompanied by artwork that aids in catapulting that propaganda.

    That way, throwing in a picture of Karl Rove as I do on my post I linked to, will tie in with the artsy/fartsy/propaganda discussion in this post.

    That is, if pictures of favorite political figures accompany the propaganda directed toward a meme complex, it will sink in deeper and last longer.

    I think the answer is “yes” to your question:

    “what do the comments made by Mark McKinnon reveal about the propaganda strategies and tactics employed by these neo-totalitarians in light of what both Ron Suskind and Sheldon Wolin have written about their ultimate project?”

    “We are an empire” appeals to those who are class B authoritarians, who worship bullies, and who are more faith based than they are fact based.

    Nevertheless, we have evidence that the intensity of propaganda is limited to the meme complex it eminates from:

    How misinformed are Republicans about world affairs? If presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s assertion that Russia is “without question our number one geopolitical foe” is any indication, then the answer would appear to be very.

    A new poll supports that theory.

    The poll, constructed by Dartmouth government professor Benjamin Valentino and conducted by YouGov from April 26 to May 2, found that fully 63 percent of Republican respondents still believed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when the U.S. invaded in 2003. By contrast, 27 percent of independents and 15 percent of Democrats shared that view.

    Jim Lobe, chief of the Inter Press Service’s Washington bureau, reported the finding in his blog on Wednesday.

    The Bush administration’s insistence that the Iraqi government had weapons of mass destruction and might give them to terrorists was a key selling point in its campaign to take the country to war. It turned out to be untrue.

    (Yes, Iraq Definitely Had WMD, Vast Majority Of Polled Republicans Insist). The strategy of propagandists, in this context, is to target a core base with the most ludicrous assertions, but water it down to pull in some from outside that base meme complex.

    What do you think?

  4. Dredd,

    Thanks for mentioning the famous — or notorious — “empire” quote from Ron Suskind’s article, “Without a Doubt,” which appeared shortly before the election of George Dubya Bush to a second term as President of the United States in November of 2004. At the beginning of his book, Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism, Sheldon Wolin also makes effective use of this quote: .

    The underlying metaphysic to these dreams of glory, of an “American century,” of Superpower, was revealed in the musings of a high-level administration official when he or she attributed a view of “reality” to reporters and then contrasted it with that held by the administration: reporters and commentators were “in what we [i.e., the administration] call the reality based-community [which] believe[s] that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality. That’s not the way the world works anymore. We’re an empire now, we create our own reality. and while you’re studying that reality — judiciously as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study, too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors … and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

    It would be difficult to find a more faithful representative of the totalitarian credo that true politics is essentially a matter of “will,” of determination to master the uses of power and to deploy them to reconstitute reality. The statement is a fitting epitaph to Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will — is it a possible epitaph for democracy in America?

    As Professor Wolin observes, this quote boldly — or baldly — states the quintessential totalitarian credo, or underlying metaphysic of the power-intoxicated bureaucrat exulting in his own perceived omnipotence. In my view, however, the Suskind quote I offered above by media guru Mark McKinnon deals with the mechanisms of propaganda designed and deployed by a paid propagandist to advance the totalitarian project of Superpower. In the previous installment of this propaganda project, I quoted Professor Wolin’s two introductory paragraphs where he compared the Riefenstahl propaganda masterpiece to the George Dubya Bush “Top Gun” aircraft carrier landing stunt shortly after launching his blitzkrieg assault on Iraq in March of 2003. I won’t repeat those here, but I would like to add an additional quote from Professor Wolin where he further discusses these two propaganda media extravaganzas.

    Both spectacles are examples of the distinctively modern mode of myth creation. They are the self-conscious constructions of visual media, Cinema and television share a common quality of being tyrannical in a specific sense. They are able to block out, eliminate whatever might introduce qualification, ambiguity, or dialogue, anything that might weaken or complicate the holistic force of their creation, of its total impression.

    In a curious but important way these media effects mesh with religious practice. In many Christian religions the believer participates in ceremonies much as the movie or TV watcher takes part in the spectacle presented. In neither case do they participate as the democratic citizen is supposed to do, as actively engaged in decisions and sharing in the exercise of power. They participate as communicants in a ceremony prescribed by the masters of the ceremony. Those assembled at Nuremberg or on the USS Abraham Lincoln did not share power with their leaders. Their relationship was thaumaturgical: they were being favored by a wondrous power in a form and at a time of its choosing.

    So again I ask, as I did above, what do the comments made by Mark McKinnon reveal about the propaganda strategies and tactics employed by these neo-totalitarians in light of what both Ron Suskind and Sheldon Wolin have written about their ultimate project? I would really like to discuss these questions because I find them fascinating. Frightening, sure, but fascinating none the less.

  5. Revisionist history is a form of propaganda, however it is not art, unless perhaps accompanied by artwork that aids in catapulting that propaganda.

    Some of the revisionist history is interesting.

    What if the House of Representatives asked Russia, China, or Saudi Arabia to attack the U.S. to remove Obama:

    It is a well-known fact that, despite various attempts, England hasn’t been successfully invaded since the Norman Conquest of 1066, led by William the Conqueror.

    However, the truth is that there was a much more recent conquest, when the Dutch leader William of Orange invaded in 1688, ousting James II, to become King William III. So why do we not talk about the Dutch Conquest of England?

    The reason is that it is generally considered to have been a revolution rather than an invasion, because William was invited to invade by parliament, and although he arrived with a considerable army and navy, there was hardly any actual fighting. As a result, the invasion is usually described as The Glorious Revolution.

    (11 Myths In History Books). I guess we could argue about whether or not propaganda, art, or revisionist history is involved, but I dare some some neoCon elements talk as if they think that would be ok in the context of overthrowing Obama.

  6. Gene and Malisha,

    Rectal-Orifice is classier and doesn’t get a kid in as much trouble at school

  7. Well . . . damn. WordPress strikes again.

    Malisha,

    I approved the comment and then it apparently disappeared into the ether of WordPress. I don’t see where it posted, anyway.

    Try posting the comment again without spelling out “a**hole”.

    Again, sorry for the inconvenience.

  8. Mailisha,

    Actually it was content related. The Professor recently added a very small list of words (four to be precise) that trigger moderation. You happened to use one of them. I made a substitution and approved the comment. Sorry for the inconvenience.

  9. Malisha,

    I doubt that it is content related. The filtering software isn’t perfect. I’ll check it out.

  10. Gene, no links at all.
    I believe it’s about content, prior comments I made, and perhaps about the BPR. Not important. I know I’m a big-mouth and I have no absolute right to post wherever I start spouting off. (The comment awaiting was re Zimmerman developments overnight; I’ll go over to Sling Trebuchet’s blog later and write out my impressions there. Best regards.)

  11. Michael Murry 1, June 21, 2012 at 8:43 am

    From “Without a Doubt,” by Ron Suskind, The New York Times Magazine, October 17, 2004:

    The crowd went wild … when the president finally arrived and gave his stump speech. There were Bush’s periodic stumbles and gaffes, but for the followers of the faith-based president, that was just fine. They got it — and “it” was the faith.

    And for those who don’t get it? That was explained to me in late 2002 by Mark McKinnon, a longtime senior media adviser to Bush … He started by challenging me. “You think he’s an idiot, don’t you?” I said, no, I didn’t. “No, you do, all of you do, up and down the West Coast, the East Coast, a few blocks in southern Manhattan called Wall Street. Let me clue you in. We don’t care. You see, you’re outnumbered 2 to 1 by folks in the big, wide middle of America, busy working people who don’t read The New York Times or Washington Post or The L.A. Times. And you know what they like? They like the way he walks and the way he points, the way he exudes confidence. They have faith in him. And when you attack him for his malaprops, his jumbled syntax, it’s good for us. Because you know what those folks don’t like? They don’t like you!” In this instance, the final “you,” of course, meant the entire reality-based community.

    What does Bush media guru Mark McKinnon tell us here about the propaganda techniques used by the Bush campaign in 2004? The intended audience? The use of imagery vs words? Methods of inoculation against anticipated counter-propaganda and/or criticism? Why the passing dig at Wall Street, a bastion of Republican Party funding and political support? How can one recognize this sort of propaganda and defend oneself against it? And what does this tell us about those who do not even think they need to try?

    In my opinion, the above quote from Ron Suskind’s now-famous article constitutes the most cynical and appalling thing I’ve ever read about what some American political “leaders” truly think of the American people.
    ==================================================
    Indeed, they seem to hold the American people in contempt.

    That is the internal dynamic of the bully religion, because they have a lot of worshipers.

    Thanks for the quote, and as a favor I will give you one that illustrates further the propaganda arrogance they exude:

    ”We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

    (Saint Warmonger the Hero). Just remember that these bozos are merely the puppets.

  12. From “Without a Doubt,” by Ron Suskind, The New York Times Magazine, October 17, 2004:

    The crowd went wild … when the president finally arrived and gave his stump speech. There were Bush’s periodic stumbles and gaffes, but for the followers of the faith-based president, that was just fine. They got it — and “it” was the faith.

    And for those who don’t get it? That was explained to me in late 2002 by Mark McKinnon, a longtime senior media adviser to Bush … He started by challenging me. “You think he’s an idiot, don’t you?” I said, no, I didn’t. “No, you do, all of you do, up and down the West Coast, the East Coast, a few blocks in southern Manhattan called Wall Street. Let me clue you in. We don’t care. You see, you’re outnumbered 2 to 1 by folks in the big, wide middle of America, busy working people who don’t read The New York Times or Washington Post or The L.A. Times. And you know what they like? They like the way he walks and the way he points, the way he exudes confidence. They have faith in him. And when you attack him for his malaprops, his jumbled syntax, it’s good for us. Because you know what those folks don’t like? They don’t like you!” In this instance, the final “you,” of course, meant the entire reality-based community.

    What does Bush media guru Mark McKinnon tell us here about the propaganda techniques used by the Bush campaign in 2004? The intended audience? The use of imagery vs words? Methods of inoculation against anticipated counter-propaganda and/or criticism? Why the passing dig at Wall Street, a bastion of Republican Party funding and political support? How can one recognize this sort of propaganda and defend oneself against it? And what does this tell us about those who do not even think they need to try?

    In my opinion, the above quote from Ron Suskind’s now-famous article constitutes the most cynical and appalling thing I’ve ever read about what some American political “leaders” truly think of the American people.

  13. A new art museum is opening up:

    An amendment that would legalize the use of propaganda on American audiences is being inserted into the latest defense authorization bill, BuzzFeed has learned.

    The amendment would “strike the current ban on domestic dissemination” of propaganda material produced by the State Department and the independent Broadcasting Board of Governors, according to the summary of the law at the House Rules Committee’s official website.

    (Buzz Feed). The art is called “Impressionism or Else.”

  14. “And that illustrates a point about congress trying to define propaganda, and it illustrates a point about Gene asking why do Americans have a dim view of propaganda but the dictionary he used does not.”

    Mischaracterization that leads to a straw man and shows a complete lack of understanding of the value loading of words. To wit:

    “That leaves us with word choice and the idea of ‘value loaded’ words and how it relates to propaganda. What are words loaded with? They are loaded with implication. This is why connotation is the edge of the propagandist’s knife. Word choice is critical. As I noted earlier, the denotation of a word is not the direct province of the propagandist. The edge of the propagandist’s knife so to speak lies in the connotation of words. However, knowing the proper denotation of words – i.e. having a large vocabulary – puts one at a tactical advantage against the propagandist. If one knows the actual meaning of words, it becomes more difficult for the propagandist to use connotation against you.

    For example, consider the use of media outlets like NPR that made a public and conscious decision to refrain from reporting on ‘torture’ – a word with extremely negative denotation and connotation – and instead choosing to use the euphemistic language ‘enhanced interrogation’. Everyone with a conscience thinks torture is a bad thing and torturers are ethically abhorrent people. It’s not only a Federal crime, cruel and unusual punishment is specifically barred by the 8th Amendment of the Constitution. The word choice here is designed to clearly shift public attitudes from ‘those guys need to be prosecuted as criminals’ to ‘maybe they aren’t so bad after all’. NPR (aided by the Bush Administration no doubt) chose words with a neutral/positive value load compared to the word ‘torture’. Connotation plays to your emotional response over your rational response. When the word choice becomes more subtle, the damage of connotations can be even more insidious. Compare:

    war – limited police action
    conquest – liberation
    famine – widespread hunger
    pestilence – outbreak
    death – casualties

    Be aware and suspicious of word choice, certainly. Especially when dealing with adjectives as they have by their nature a great capacity to carry connotation.”

    If I didn’t think propaganda was dangerous, I wouldn’t be teaching people how recognize it for the purposes of inoculation against it. Keep your own words in your own mouth. Oh, that’s right, you have to put your words in the mouths of others because no one pays attention to your words at your own blog.

  15. Tony C. 1, June 20, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    @Dredd: What is your obsession with mini-skirts?

    The Voynich manuscript probably WAS propaganda. The last thing I saw on it was that it is most likely code but for a foreign language, or mix of foreign languages, used to record the dogma of a secret religion or cult without exposing those secrets to non-initiates. Secret “Mystery” religions were rampant in the middle ages, this is probably a relic of one of them. The herbal stuff is probably about magical potions or medicines (same thing, in the middle ages).
    =====================================
    You know.

    Your points about the manuscript are well taken.

    It is also possible that the manuscript did not change with time. Any reflection of language, such as a dictionary, must change with time or suffer the same fate the manuscript did.

    They had the best code breakers, using the best computers and software, to try to figure the manuscript out, to no avail.

    And that illustrates a point about congress trying to define propaganda, and it illustrates a point about Gene asking why do Americans have a dim view of propaganda but the dictionary he used does not.

    It is like the CLE (continuing legal education) principle.

    One has to keep up with meanings to be up to date.

    Otherwise the meanings of things in that dictionary may suffer the oblivion of understanding that the manuscript did.

    Congress defined propaganda, while at the same time forbidding foreign agents to utilize it in any way.

    There is more than one way to look at propaganda, but obviously it is not like M&M’s if they wanted to protect people from it.

Comments are closed.