What Have We Wrought: thoughts on freedom, taxes, capitalism and democracy
Part VI: What’s Technology Got to Do with Propaganda?
It is a well known and documented fact that the Nazi’s used the technology of the gas ovens to murder Jewish people, Gypsies, and those who they called “the mentally defective.” Their efficient man’s inhumanity to man is one of the darkest periods of human history.
By trying to turn human beings into “sensors,” as discussed earlier, a further step has been taken in dehumanizing people by making them into inanimate objects, that is “sensors.” In these infected minds, other human beings are nothing more than an object, a tool.
Along with that is another type of dehumanization at work. Here is a poster from pre-WWII Germany.
Nazi Euthanasia Propaganda Poster. Text reads: 60000 RM (Reichsmark) costs of these genetically defective, the national community for life member of the race that’s your money. Read New People, The monthly issues of the Race Policy Office of the NSDAP.
English translation: 60000 RM, this is what this person suffering from hereditary defects costs the Community of Germans during his lifetime. Fellow Citizen, that is your money, too. Read ‘[A] New People’ The monthly magazines of the Office for Race Politics of the NSDAP [Poster from various websites]
In contemporary America we do not have a Race Policy Office to my knowledge. We also do not promote euthanasia. But a close examination of the recent debt crisis in the U.S. as well as in individual states such as Minnesota, puts a different light on this poster. The Nazi’s could be blatant in their dehumanizing and inhuman policies such as euthanasia. What is happening in this country is far more subtle.
Right-wing websites and literature promote cuts in government programs for the vulnerable, the elderly, those with disabilities (the defective, the weak). Instead of outright murder by euthanasia or other methods, cutting the benefits for this group of people amounts in some cases to the same thing because they will die without those benefits; for some it means hunger; for other people it means the end of the American dream of bettering oneself through opportunities offered. Education is also targeted; massive cuts in public education betray the American value of equal education for all.
They call for these cuts for the future, for their children. What these white, right-wing people mean is only for “our” children, not for the children of America, who include all races, colors and religions. (The other day I heard a couple of people discussing how the billionaires send their children to summer camp in jets. Actually, that is not beyond belief–they do have their own jets.)
When I visited the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC in January 2010, I went to a special exhibit they had entitled, State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda. One of the images that stays with me was a cover of Der Stürmer. Although it is not this particular cover, it was one that blamed the Jews for wanting war, as this cover also depicts. In reality, of course, Hitler and his cronies wanted war.
A 1934 issue of Der Stürmer, which was a widely circulated tabloid up to the end of WWII.
The fiercely antisemitic newspaper Der Stürmer, edited by Julius Streicher, warned of a Jewish program for world domination in this 1934 issue. The article, titled “Who is the Enemy?” blamed Jews for destroying social order and claimed that Jews wanted war, while the rest of the world wanted peace. (Holocaust Museum) (Image available on several websites.)
Here is a definition of propaganda from the exhibition: “Propaganda is biased information spread to shape public opinion and behavior.” The Nazi’s were masters of propaganda. ( This exhibit, parts of which are available online at http://www.ushmm.org/propaganda/, is an interactive exhibit appropriate for older children as well as adults.)
We have become far more sophisticated in content in the use of propaganda, but nonetheless the techniques, as described in the exhibition, are the same: “use truths, half-truths, or lies; omit information selectively; simplify complex issues or ideas; play on emotions; advertise a cause; attack opponents; target desired audiences.” The right-wing media machine is particularly sophisticated in these techniques. The approach is more subtle than, for example, the propaganda in Der Stürmer, but it definitely follows these methods. Unfortunately, that is part of its power.
Part VII: Thoughts on emotion, propaganda, racism−and room for hope will be published tomorrow.