Cognition & Reality

Saturday, 11 September 2010

9-11 & Propaganda

Filed under: Propaganda — drtone @ 7:09 pm

The events of nine years ago today have spawned a whole world of propaganda, a cluster of misrepresentation that go unchallenged. I present here a couple of examples here to show how clever propagandists work by smuggling a set of assumptions into seemingly innocuous material. The scariest aspect of propaganda is that the more false the assumptions, the less subject to challenge the surface claims they support, and the deeper then sense of unease those assumptions produce.

Recently, a friend sent me a 9-11 memorial slide show with a first slide using the Twin Towers as the “11” in “9-11,” flanked by the words “Never Forget” and “Never Surrender.” Never surrender? Surrender to whom? The implicit assumption is that the events of 9-11 signal a struggle in which Americans face the prospect of “surrender.” Because there is no basis whatever to such a claim, it is not made explicitly, and because it is therefore implicit, it is all the more powerful, assuming the position of an unchallengeable truth. If the United States faces an enemy at all, it is one that poses some danger to a relatively small number of individuals–3000 persons died on 11 September 2001 in a country of 300 million. Billions of dollars were lost on that date in and in the aftermath. In spite of both types of loss, our country continues. The suggestion that we are in danger of  “surrendering” is so false that it does merit discussion. Therefore, it passes as fact.

During practically every sporting event, as happened today, an announcer thanks the members of our armed forces “for keeping us safe.” Safe from what? It could easily be that the number of troops dying “to keep us safe” far exceeds the number of Americans who would die in any terrorist attacks the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have prevented–if they’ve prevented any at all. The United States, the greatest military and economic power in history, is not in  danger. Any threat we experience is an invention promoted by propaganda, such as this ritual of “thanking our troops.” Likewise, we now hear “God Bless America,” admittedly a far better song, far easier to sing than our national anthem, during every 7th inning stretch and at various other times, for the express purpose of reminding us of 9-11 and of our fictitious “danger.”


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