Thursday, April 28, 2011

April 38: how to spot propaganda in your news.

All news media contain some propaganda, even the best and most honest of them. For example, those who killed innocent civilians at the world trade centre were called terrorists. And rightly so. Their purpose was to create terror. So our press referred to them as terrorists.

Some years earlier, an American (and Christian ) group had blown up a building full of innocent civilians, including those in a daycare centre. That was a deliberate act of terror. But no major news source in North America called the killers terrorists.They were called militia.  So it is, too, with anti-abortionists who murder doctors and plant bombs in abortion clinics.

Similarly, another American terrorist group was discovered this past year to be planning to kill two policemen, and then to plant a bomh their  public funeral. In our news, they were, of course,  not terrorists. They were militiamen.

The US organized the slaughter of 200,000 Guatemalan native peoples from the elderly to babies. Clinton admitted it publicly, and apologized for it. Far from calling this a terrorist act, most of the North American news media never even reported it.

Watch for the choice of words.

Today, the editorial page has a commentary from The Fraser Institute, a propaganda front for very big business. It's headed ,"Your annual income tax in only a protion of your total tax bill."

It begins with figures on how much we spend on taxes. All of the figures are quite correct, including such things as income tax, health insurance, pension payments, and so on. Then the commentary leaps to the give-away line " ... that means 42.3 prcent of of the family's income goes for the cost of government."

The iimplication is clear. The government takes all that away from us for itself. It is a bottomless pit, and a drain on our finances. Government costs us more than our basic needs do.

Whoa. Back up just a moment. Taxes that provide pensions are money dropped into a pit? Surely, much of that money is not for government. Their choice of words sets up government as a straw man. Much of that money goes for medicare and pensions which, I think, are basic needs for most of us.

And if we didn't pay that money to government for those needs, we would have to pay private companies for those needs. Through our taxes, all Canadians can get medical care. In the US, medical costs through private health insurance are far higher than ours, and millions can't get any medcial care at all. That's why the US has a high infant mortality rate

In this case, as in others,taxes don't cost us money. They save us money. The bogeyman of waste and inefficiency isn't the government. It's private business. Similarly, we could do away with property taxes. But then each of us would have to pay a bill to hire private firms to maintain our streets, clear snow, create parks,and all the rest.

That, like the privatization of health care, would not save us money. It would cost us more money, much more. And, as with health care in the US, millions of Canadians would not be able to have cleared streets, garbage removal, piped water, or even indoor toilets.

That's how the Fraser Insistute, like AIMS, churns out its propaganda, seemingly based on solid statistics. Choice of words is one of the keys.

The other key is in the last line of the commentary. Note both the choice of words (extract is a bad-sounding word; accountable is a good-sounding word) and the reasoning. The sentence is:

"Armed with this knowledge we can, at least, hold our governments more accountable for the resources they extract." Government is evil. It "extracts" "our resources". "Accoutable" is a good , repsonsible word.

Another key to propaganda  is to avoid certain pieces of data. In this case, there is almost no mention of the private sector.

We do,  in fact, hold our governments accountable. It's done through something called democracy  (which, admittedly, is pretty much dead in New Brunswick). But the greater part of our spending does not go to government. It goes to the private sector. Shouldn't we hold the private sector responsible  how it uses our money?

Shouldn't we wonder why gas prices are rising at the same time that oil companies are reporting record profits? We know the statistics about government budgeting. What about the statistics on Irving budgeting? How much income tax did Irving industries pay last year? How much did it get, directly and indirectly, from government?

We already hold our governments responsible for what they do with our money. Shouldn't we hold private companies reponsible for our money? After all, private and public money are really the same kind of money, and both of them come from the same place. You and me.

Oh, all of the big deficits in Canadian history, both federal and provincial, have been run up by Conservative and Liberal governments, with the Conservatives (big favourites of The Fraser Institute) having the worst record.

Like all good propaganda, the wording of this article is skilful. It looks reasonable and informed. In reality, it peddles old myths through its choice of words and its selection of data.

Expect The Moncton Times&Transcript to publish these propaganda pieces more often leading up to the election. The original strategy of ignoring the election, probably to lower the turnout, has fallen apart in the past week. The "think-tanks", with the help of boot-licking editors at the Moncton T&T,  have now to worry about what could be a very large turn-out. So they have to shovel out more propaganda.


  1. Why all the examples of conservatives looking bad? And Christians? I do not know about you, but I would say they obviously weren't if they did that. And, I am not pardoning the offenses of the "abortion terrorists," but you make the "pro-abortionists," another erm just as misleading as anti-abortionists, look innocent. I am offended, and, I hope you realize your mistakes now.

  2. The fact that I have offended you does not necessarily indicate that I am wrong.

    I speak more often of Christians and "conservatives" doing wrong because I'm an alternative press - and I try to make up for what the regular press doesn't cover.

    Christians have a long history of intolerance, torture, murder that goes way back to the Roman Empire. They were notorious not only for being intolerant of other religions, but intolerant of Christians who deviate from "the truth".
    You say that people who did this are not really Christians. Okay. Would you also be tolerant enought to say the bombers of 9/11 were not Moslems?

    I think you are confused about the meanings of innocence and guilt. Pro-abortionists, in Canada at least, advocate respecting the law.

    abortion terrorists (your term)murder innocent people who are not breaking the law.

    I take it you are offended at the killing of potential people. How do you feel about Vietnam, Guatemala and Iraq where the US splattered over a million children against walls or, as in Guatemala simply buried them alive?

    I think I find that kind of offensive.

    And you have decided that people like George Bush are not real Christians? Well, better warn their churches about that.

    I am offended by Christians who behave in that way. I am offended because I am a Christian. I am offended by people who use the word "conservative" to justify greed and cruelty because I think the word conservative should have its proper and honourable meaning.
    There is nothing conservative about Stephen Harper, Alward, Bush, etc. (and nothing liberal about Obama).