Yelling and Propaganda on the Internet
A few days ago someone with whom I attended high school and who has children serving in the military posted something on Facebook regarding how awful it was that some protestors burnt an American flag and that it was great that a Fedex driver stepped in and took their flag and used a fire extinguisher to dose the fire. So I piped up and as a result much of what became this post was drafted.
First off I understand why it is legal to burn a US flag and I understand why many people might do so as a form of protest. I probably would not do so, but then I don’t do many things that I’m legally allowed to do. Many people say this sort of protest is wrong or disrespectful, yet they do not understand that it is the ultimate expression of freedom to many. Those who get worked up about flag burning forget that there are real issues to talk about and this is not one of them. News stories about flag burning are propaganda in the form of newspeak designed to whip people into a frenzy. It’s not a matter of if you approve, disprove, find the actions abhorrent or applaud them. The issue is that you focus your energies on this because the media machines you chose to follow tell you to do so. This is a matter of look over here at this horrible thing but do not pay attention to these other horrible things.
If you chose to dissent against the people in uproar over these sorts of stories, they usually remain in their self-righteous bubbles. They will threaten and disparage the dissenters and call them “those people”. This leaves little hope for any sort of change and that is sad. Wouldn’t it be nice if instead of feeling so at odds with each other, civil discussion were the norm? Wouldn’t it be nice if you debated things without reverting to name calling and stereotyping? Wouldn’t it be nice if people didn’t want to burn a flag in protest?
Just when I thought I was done yelling on the internet, one last person posted that “Notice how they all cover their face too? Liberals engage in acts so repulsive (and often times criminal) that they have to cover their faces. Speaks volumes about who and what they are.”
Now, in said video of a group of 12+ people there are two people wearing bandanas. One of them removes his partway into the video. There are many examples of people dressing in this manner for many reasons. Ski patrols do so, bank robbers do so, hunters stalking deer, kids waiting at a bus stop, and members of the KKK.
Generalizations and stereotypes are what newspeak and propaganda rely upon. There are much bigger issues at stake, but keeping people divided by feeding them this sort of event is a great way to distract them from said bigger issues.
Have friends or family in the military? Here are some pressing issues to worry about:
The recent Yemen raid which killed 24 people, most of them civilians: nine men, six women and nine children. This raid raises serious questions about potential dangers if the U.S. military relaxes current restrictions surrounding use of force and protection of civilians. There are no easy answers to this issue. (Interesting link to just information about the Country of Yemen: http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/10/world/meast/yemen-fast-facts/index.html)
The current South China Sea posturing going on. After an inauguration address filled with isolationist rhetoric, we need to remember we are odds with China yet we depend heavily upon them for much of our manufacturing. Some hawks see war with China imminent. A direct war between the US and China would be WWIII. Find this idea scary? Start reading or listening to multiple views on the subject. Maybe you’ll end up in favor or maybe you’ll end up not wanting war, the point is you will have made an informed decision. Not one based up on stereotypes or generalizations. Then type up what you think, call your senators and voice your opinions—always good to have a script handy as one can get flustered when trying to make ones point to someone in a position of power.
Which brings up on last one comment about the video itself. The guy with the headphones that yells at the crowd, he says the clothes on the protestor backs are possible because people fought for their freedom—an odd sentimentalizing statement. That made me think. Most clothing purchased here in is not manufactured here. Most clothing is now made cheaply and meant not to last. Pick up Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion or do a quick web search for it and check out one of the interview summaries like this one http://www.wbur.org/npr/174013774/in-trendy-world-of-fast-fashion-styles-arent-made-to-last . Clothing is big business and a big item in terms of consumer discretionary spending. A few years ago I started reading the labels on clothing before I made my purchasing decision. It’s really hard to try to come up with some sort of mental system to justify how many made in India items vs how many made in Vietnam items versus how many made in China items based on how much I like them and was there an alternative that was made in the USA I could buy. It ended up becoming a solipsistic exercise and I gave up. Instead I just stopped buying many pieces of new clothing and I ask myself “do I really need this?” when I do make a purchase.
The point of the above digression is that even something as seemingly simple as buying a new sweater in this day an age is not a simple thing when you stop to consider the current ready to wear clothing market. You can chose to do things by route or you can break out of the bubble. You can chose to buy in to the newspeak and propaganda that is presented or you can ask why is this being shown and who hopes to gain from it? What am I not being shown and what don’t they want me to see?
Example: you watch a video of protest burning a flag and you get enraged and you rant on FB. Meanwhile did you know that residents of Flint, Michigan still do not have clean drinking water? Yes it’s “old news” and thus it’s something that cannot get people talking, so it can’t boost ratings which won’t get advertisers to make media buys which won’t entice consumers to go to the mall and buy more sweaters.