Demonizing the Enemy
One would have imagined after the Nazi Phenomenon, where the propaganda of Josef Goebbels was developed into one of the most frightening arts of all time, that people today with all the worlds information at their fingertips would be wary of the message being pumped out by the media, especially in connection with armed conflicts.Whatever the media is, it is not objective, It does not report. It presents a point of view, often without even being aware that it is doing it, and that is at its best. At its worst, it is far more honest. It does nothing but pump out a biased viewpoint.
Every conflict normally has a foreplay, where a belligerent presents the enemy in a form that is often very subtle, playing on fears and fobias, and gradually getting the poeple acclimatized to a viewpoint of the enmey that makes it possible to unleash war without any serious discontent on the home front. The great classical example in our time is the Nazi propaganda machine that over the course of many years stigmatized the Jews and the Bolsheviks until the two became one, implemented a quasi-legalistic system to seperate the internal enemy from the remainder of the people, classify it and then isolate it before unleashing war which made it possible to exterminate it.
The regime of Goerge W. Bush did precisely the same thing, albeit it not with a segment of its own population. It slowly built up a popular image of a dangerous tyranny that had no real foundation. Weapons of Mass Destruction being the central theme, and connected to it those who wished to develop these weapons to the detriment of the nation. What was similar to the Nazi Regime was the shroud of secrecy around it all. One could not reveal details because that would strengthen the enemy and weaken the nation. The man in the street was made to be terrified and kept terrified as a justification for the continuing of war. And it persists in America to this very day.
Libya as such is a sideshow when compared to the two conflicts mentioned above, but the same mechanisms appear nevertheless. Hospitals with corpses, halls withbodies, rumours of mass graves, summary executions, torture. Ghaddafi demonizedand the rebels hiding their own excesses, just as the Allies as they advanced across Europe towards Hitlers Germany made light of and hid away their own excesses which were considerable, and then especially the Russian advance into Prussia.They had suffered immeasurably more.
Red is turned in grey and grey into red so often and with such constant repitition that it becomes the truth in the mind of the largely unthinking populace. Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth. It is a mystery to me that Journalists in the field, of whom I have met many, always get caught up in the spiel and at some point lose their objectivity. They start out determined to be objective and end up with a cause.There are of course exceptions.
For those who spend their time on matters such as these, one can recommend a particular book, that in parts deals with all of the above. It is called “People IN Auschwitz” and written by Hermann Langbein. Take particular note of the introduction, which is a paradigm for the remainder of the book. And then watch Goebbels propaganda newsreels, of which many exist, where he turns day into night and night into day in such a subtle way that one finds oneself clinging to hindsight in order not to be convinced.
29th August 2011