Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Propaganda of Implied Association

Just before the Sabbath began Friday evening, our rabbi posted a letter by Marianne Williamson at his Facebook account stating that it was rational and important. The letter was an attack on Sarah Palin. Or rather it was an attack on something that Palin wrote in her blog. But rather than being a direct and open critique of Palin's ideas in that blog, Williamson took two lines of metaphor from the end of Palin's statement, and used it to imply that Palin advocated actions that were nowhere stated in the text of Palin's blog. Further, Williamson went on to imply through the use of generalities that Sarah Palin and those who support her or any of her ideas, would then be responsible for the unamed future actions of any individuals who might plan or commit violence against members of the current executive branch.

Williamson's letter is not rational, but it is important because it represents a concerted attack on the free speech of those who oppose the policies of the current administration that has been ongoing in the propaganda of the mainstream media (MSM). And it is important to address what the members of the MSM are doing NOT because I agree with all of Sarah Palin's ideas (I disagree with Palin more often than not), nor because I like Sarah Palin (I don't know her), but because this propaganda technique of implied association can be successfully used to shut down opposition to the policies of any government without the necessity of ever using reasoned arguments to discuss the ideas behind those policies. That almost all members of the MSM use propaganda rather than providing the public with the facts and ideas vis-a-vis specific administration policy indicates that the press is not in any real sense free; that is it is biased in favor of those in power and their policies, whoever those in power happen to be. As such, the product of the work of the media should also be viewed with a great deal of suspicion.

I will quote freely from Palin and from Williamson for the purposes of this essay, but for purpose of space, I will not provide full quotations of both documents. Rather, I will provide links to the full documents on their first citation here.

Williamson's letter purports to be an admonition to Sarah Palin for the use of this metaphor in a blogpost that compares the March Madness NCAA Basketball Tournament with a political campaign. Although Williamson takes the highlighted sentence below out of its context, I quote it here in context:

"To the teams that desire making it this far next year: Gear up! In the battle, set your sights on next year's targets! From the shot across the bow--the first second's tip off--your leaders will be in the enemies crosshairs, so you must execute strong defensive tactics. You won't win only on defense, so get on offense! The crossfire is intense, so penetrate through enemy territory by bombing through the press, and use your strong weapons--your Big Guns--to drive to the hole. Shoot with accuracy, aim high and remember, it takes blood, sweat and tears to win."
(From, March 28, 2010. The full text can be found here).

But what Williamson really does in her open letter to Palin has nothing to do with Palin per se. Rather the letter, with its effusive compliments of Palin's book, and the expression of desire to speak together reasonably, never drops below the surface of glittering generalities. Instead those generalities are used to carefully construct the implication that Sarah Palin is responsible for inciting violence against the President of the United States in this blog entry
by use of the above sports metaphor. She writes:

"Please modify your words.
In my lifetime, we have lost a President (sic), a Civil Rights leader (sic), and a Presidential Candidate (sic), all to gun violence . . . I am not suggesting that you would pick up a gun and shoot anyone; I am suggesting there are other people who would, however, and in your position as a leading political figure you are stoking fires . . . that are too dangerous to be safely stoked."
(From, undated. The full text can be found here).

Here Williamson takes what is clearly a sports metaphor--in which a basketball game is compared to a battle--and indirectly equates it to "gun violence", and further to "gun violence" directed against the President of the United States. After protesting too much that her argument has nothing to do with partisan politics, Williamson then implies that the use of such metaphors will cause "dangerous" people to enter into a Nazi-like "group psychosis." (Remember the MIAC report. The groundwork has been carefully laid by this government and its media cheerleaders to characterize peaceful people like the Tea Parties--even anti-war people like Ron Paul supporters--as dangerous based only on their political beliefs. At the risk of invoking Godwin's Law, isn't that what the Nazi's did?)

Williamson's penultimate paragraph adds insult to injury by using the propaganda technique of "nice words" to imply that not only is Sarah Palin full of hate due to the basketball metaphor that Williamson changed to gun violence, but that it's use is "frightening". This is an appeal to fear--we should all be deathly afraid of Palin and her supporters (and their flying basketballs)--because the desire to win a political battle against the current adminstration is "dangerous." As is the use of free speech. Williamson is so sanctimonious as to make one gag:

"Please join me in turning to a God of Love and not fear . . ."

As if the whole letter was not calculated to inspire fear of Palin and her supporters, and anyone else who wants to defeat the current administration and majority party in 2010 and 2012.

Williamson's sanctimonious propaganda is a nasty attack on its face, but worse is the use to which this letter other such blogs have been put within the context of the current political climate. From the MIAC report, to the harrassment of Campaign for Liberty staffers at airports, to the repeated mischaracterizations of the Tea Partiers as angry racists, a climate of fear is being inculcated among Americans. (Yesterday I spoke for a while to a woman who was quite fearful of the Tea Parties but who could not give me one shred of evidence to support her fear. It turns out she had never even spoken to one of us). But the language of fear is being used by progressive supporters of the Obama administration against those who oppose his policies. It is a craven attempt to avoid a discussion of ideas by use of propaganda, and it is one in which the Obama adminstration and press lackeys have invoked the Vision of Annointed. That is, they have moved the discussion from debate of evidence and facts to one in which they must be right because they are holy, but their opposition is evil because it is wrong.

And this letter from Williamson is part of a concerted attack on the free speech of anyone who opposes Obama's policies in whole or in part. The point is to the plant the seed of doubt about the value of free speech into the minds of Americans by invoking the idea of guilt by implied association. For example, should some crazy person pick up a gun and shoot a politician, it would not be made the fault of the shooter. Rather, anyone who verbally opposed the victim's policy is held responsible for "incitement". And anyone who wanted to defeat that victim in the next election would be held responsible, especially if she used strong, metaphoric language. And anyone who might have at one time or another agreed with one of the myriad ideas that the shooter also happened to espouse, then that person is also responsible. None of these people to be held responsible need ever have known or encountered the shooter.

The point of making such associations is twofold: First, it creates a climate in which people become afraid to make any public statement in opposition to the policies of one of those who hold the Vision of the Annointed, no matter how well reasoned; and 2) it lays the groundwork for a "false-flag" incident through which the opposition can be blamed and then destroyed. (The Reichstag fire was a planned false-flag incident; Krystallnacht was excused by the unplanned death of an SS officer at the hands of a justifiably angry Jew).

This use of collective responsibility through the rhetoric of implied association is a tool of totalitarian dictators the world over. It is used to isolate and exterminate the opposition and other innocent but targeted groups. It is so used because no rational discussion can be had with those who wish to impose their will by force. The progressives have been making an effort of late to disarticulate the concept of force from violence, as if violence were not a species of force (see Amit Ghati's Force and Violence: How the Left Blurs the Terms); and at confusing the INITIATION of Force with defense against it. All force is a violation against the life, liberty or property of another. And it is the INITIATION of force against another that is immoral, not the use of force to defend one's rights against such initiation. The initiation of force is immoral whether it is obtained through fraud, fear, or violence.

It is Williamson, and not Palin, who has hidden motives in this exchange. Palin has made it clear that she opposes the current administration and its policies, and that she would like to see Obama and his supporters defeated in the next election. Williamson would like to make this straightforward political battle into something more. With an iron fist hidden in a velvet glove, she wants to imply that metaphorical speech is direct incitement to violence. She would like her readers to believe that, as one self-proclaimed philosopher on our rabbi's Facebook put it, the free speech of the political opposition needs to be "reigned in." (The "philosopher does not say how so or by whom, but it's a pretty good bet that she means to reign us in by government use of force, for who else would have the power?) The problem with this is that if the rights of any one of us is violated, then the rights of all become mere privileges, to be granted or revoked at the will of the ones with the biggest guns. Then we shall see the real meaning of mere democracy: mob rule.

It is true that these are dangerous times. And we must be extraordinarily careful not to be induced by the mere propaganda of a sanctimonious gun inside a velvet glove into surrendering our rights. Rights were not given by the government, they were "endowed by our Creator" (nature and nature's god); no lien can be placed on them, and any attempt to deny them because they are "dangerous" must be determinedly resisted as peacefully as possible. But make no mistake--peace is the fullness of all aspects of life--the yin and the yang--it is not the refuge of those who are too craven to resist the initiation of force, however siren-like the glittering generalities used to hide it have become. That siren sings a song of hope and change while the chains of our slavery to her power and prestige, unchanged these past administrations, are forged by the venal politicians who place it over and above their oaths of office, there on the plains of the Beltway.

Hard words? Harder are these words:

". . . it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren until she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men who are engaged in the great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes see not, and having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth, to know the worst and to provide for it.
. . . there is no retreat but in submission and slavery. Our chains are forged . . . is life so dear and peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others take, but as for me, Give me Liberty, or give me Death!"
---Patrick Henry, March 23, 1775

I'll take hard honest words over nice slippery ones any day.


Consent of the Governed said...

Great post.
The Left is showing signs of desperation.
They see the handwriting on the wall for November etc., so their only plan is to demonize and portray the Tea party people as violent lunatics - an explosive tinderbox waiting to be ignited. The Left is pulling out all of the stops to accomplish their goal even if they have to perpetrate violence themselves in order to try to blame it on the Tea Party people.
The thing is - their tactics have been exposed. They are being watched.
Like the thing with congressmen being called the N word and being spat on - no one has been able to produce a video showing this actually happened, even though people were filming and people were all around.
Few people will be buying the lies of the Left... and it's going to make November very interesting indeed.
Of course Palin is not doing the cause of Liberty any good at all by endorsing and fawning over idiots like John McCain.

Anonymous said...

Your rabbi was not the only person to mistake Ms. Palin's intent, and it's not too surprising, considering that at first she seems to be comparing political battles to basketball, which oddly morphs into war...the last words in the facebook post are: "Every possession is a battle; you’ll only win the war if you’ve picked your battles wisely. No matter how tough it gets, never retreat, instead RELOAD!" Considering that a map she posted, coupled with a list of names of some lawmakers who voted for the health insurance bill "targets" specific lawmakers with "crosshairs", I don't find it odd that one of the three visible responses to her post was this gem: "WE HAVE TO GET READY FOR HUNTING SEASON IN NOVEMBER, WE'RE GONNA BE SHOOTING SOME DONKEYS". Totally harmless, I'm sure...but I live out in the boonies near some pretty paranoid neighbors, so I tend to err on the side of prudence. If Ms. Pain didn't use battle and hunting metaphors for what ought to be a reasoned process (choosing our political leaders), maybe she wouldn't be encouraging people who think (as she writes near the beginning of her post) "watch for this principle lived out: the team that wins is the team that wants it more". Sounds like magical thinking to me, reminds me of the time my six year old son won at dreidel and told me "It's because I WANTED it MORE." Okay for six year olds, decidedly iffy for grownups. Ms. Palin doesn't have any particular responsibility as a public figure, but if she wants to be taken seriously, she should present her thoughts in a way that ordinary people, that is, most of us, can understand, and perhaps more importantly, not misunderstand.


Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

Judy--thanks. I think the left is indeed getting desperate. Unfortunately, I don't think a Republican victory in November is going to halt our slide into socialism--although it may slow down some.
And you are right! The left is being watched--and we need to keep watching them. A cornered cat is most dangerous.

Deborah--this post was not in any way a defense of Sarah Palin. I disagree with her vehemently on many (most?) issues and the fact that she still supports John McCain--a neocon's neocon--does not help her in Liberty circles. As I said in the post:

"And it is important to address what the members of the MSM are doing NOT because I agree with all of Sarah Palin's ideas (I disagree with Palin more often than not), nor because I like Sarah Palin (I don't know her), but because this propaganda technique of implied association can be successfully used to shut down opposition to the policies of any government without the necessity of ever using reasoned arguments to discuss the ideas behind those policies."

The post was not about Sarah Palin--it was about the propaganda technique of implied association and also about the false concept of collective responsibility. The response to Sarah Palin's metaphorical speech was simply the example of these techniques. They are not important to bring to light because of what Sarah Palin does/does not think; they are important to bring to light because of the danger they present.

Finally, I have no problem with war metaphors, and they are often used in sports and politics, even by the progressives. But then, I'm not a pacifist, nor do I buy the phony sanctimony of the progressive "left"--they who condone the initiation of force against peaceful people in order to get their way, but then self-righteously condemn any forceful response as "violence"--even though it is clearly not that.

Anonymous said...

I didn't read your post as a defense of Sarah Palin. My point was that it is easier to use these propaganda techniques in the apparent absence of analysis by most parties of every political affiliation; they are hardly the sole province of those I don't agree with. If I thought that every sentence Ms. Palin writes has some secondary meaning, I'd be alarmed by Ms. Palin's post, her advice to "aim high", to parachute over the wall, to reload. I'm not surprised that some really thought she was advocating assassination. I'm sure the hunting, war, and sports metaphors are supposed to appeal to the backwoods guy in all of us, but for me...they fall short of the mark.


Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

Deborah--No, the war metaphors often go over my head, but being a midwestern girl born and bred, the basketball metaphors are very understandable! Basketball season kept the long and weary late winter-early spring endurable where I grew up.

FYI: Did you know that took the "parachute over the wall" statement came from Nancy Pelosi? I would hope that it would alarm you equally as much. Pelosi said it in context of "ramming through" the health care bill, at about the same time that the President of the United States told his opposition to "sit down and shut up."

These statements are clearly inflammatory in its own right from both the speaker and the president, yet I saw no letter from Marianne Williamson to them. Could it be because it's okay to use such metaphors to shove the progressive agenda down our throats, but it's not okay for anyone to use such metaphors to oppose it?

I am not fond of Sarah Palin, as I have said, but I have developed a certain sympathy for her, as she has become the whipping girl of the left.

She is a public figure--but in her blog entry she was talking to her supporters and she appears to want to fire them up for a presidential run. Being third party, I am not about to interfere in Republican politics--frankly, I don't like how that party does things any more than I like the Dems--but I find her mixed metaphors no better and no worse than those from the Asses . . . oops, I mean the Donkeys on the other side of aisle.

My concern remains that those of us who oppose Obama's policies are being set up. It started with the MIAC report, and continues in how the MSM covers (and doesn't cover) the Tea Parties, the Ron Paul meet-ups, the libertarians, etc. This is a classic tactic of the left, far predating Alinsky (whose book I read in a required Poly Sci class my first year of college in 1978). When you truly believe that you can and should change the world to reflect your ideas--regardless of the liberty and desires of others--you tend to throw principles out the window and adopt the utilitarian stance that anything goes as long as you win.