Rejoice, fellow propagandaphiles, for we live in The Golden Age of Propaganda.
It’s an age when a transparently phony, hate-filled snake oil salesman can draw 87,000 people (plus or minus 9000) to The National Mall and have them unquestioningly swallow his deranged chalkboard conspiracy theories. It’s an age when the TV network he networks for can report that 87,000 actually equals 2 million, and millions of its viewers unquestioningly swallow that. It’s an age when such a network, which serves up blatant political propaganda around the clock, not only gets away with calling itself a news network, but is the most popular “news” network in the nation.
Not only is it possible to make people believe absolutely anything, but it often seems that the nuttier the proposition, the more receptive the public. According to a recent Harris poll, 40 % of Americans (and 67% of Republicans) believe that President Obama is a socialist; 38% (61% of Republicans) believe he wants to “take away our guns”; 32% (57 % of Republicans) believe he is a Muslim; 20% (38% of Republicans) believe he is “doing many of the things that Hitler did”; 25% (45% of Republicans) believe he is foreign-born; and (our favorite) 14% (24% of Republicans) believe he may be “the Anti-Christ”. (All of these numbers drop off steeply among the better educated. Which just goes to show you, of course, that education subjects you to librul brainwashing, so you’ll be much better informed if you just stay uneducated.)
There are always legitimate grounds for criticizing a president, even those who sport top hats and beards. So why haven’t Obama’s attackers focused on his actual shortcomings, instead of going after the tin hat stuff? Quite simply, because facts don’t make for powerful propaganda. Facts put people to sleep. Propaganda gets them marching. (And casting ballots.)
As Adolf Hitler famously observed, people are more likely to believe a big lie than a small one. By the same token, people are perhaps more likely to believe lunacy than rationality. And certainly, they are more likely to get worked up over it.
There are a great many manipulators of public opinion who have this figured out. And that’s why we’re living in a propagandist’s paradise.