In his book Abuse of Language, Abuse of Power, the German Catholic philosopher Josef Pieper wrote the following: “That the existential realm of man could be taken over by pseudorealities whose fictitious nature threatens to become indiscernible is truly a depressing thought. And yet, the Platonic nightmare, I hold, possesses an alarming contemporary relevance. For the general public is being reduced to a state where people are not only unable to find out about the truth but also become unable even to search for the truth because they are satisfied with deception and trickery that have determined their convictions, satisfied with a fictitious reality created by design through the abuse of language.”
Pieper was describing a world in which reality has given way to narratives as societies can no longer discern the difference between what is real and what is fake. Non-stop distractions are deliberately used by those in power as instruments of policy for the purpose of preventing people from paying attention to reality. Propaganda is used by those in power to manipulate language, thought, and opinion in a way that causes the progression from thought to action artificially. When the public is reduced to a state where people no longer care about the truth and are unaware of what that truth even is, propaganda takes hold and shows them what to do. The world Pieper was describing is the world that we live in today as more and more Americans are subjected to a bombardment of propaganda that is based on the ever changing news cycle that predominates our lives.
To the extent that propaganda is based on current news, it cannot permit time for thought or reflection. A man caught up in the news must remain on the surface of the event; he is carried along in the current, and can at no time take a respite to judge and appreciate; he can never stop to reflect. There is never any awareness-of himself, of his condition, of his society-for the man who lives by current events. Such a man never stops to investigate anyone point, any more than he will tie together a series of news events…Propaganda addresses itself to that man; like him, it can relate only to the most superficial aspect of a spectacular event, which alone can interest man and lead him to make a certain decision or adopt a certain attitude.
One thought drives away another; old facts are chased by new ones. Under the conditions in which we find ourselves living crisis to crisis, there can be no thought as the steady stream of propaganda is fed to us in the form of “news” that never strays from a certain narrative. The events that unfolded last week surrounding the shooting at Umpqua Community College (UCC) in Roseburg, Oregon, that resulted in the deaths of nine students serves as the latest example of how propaganda is used by both the media and the current administration in order to further an agenda that is not rooted in reality.
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With the bodies of the victims still warm, the nation still in shock, and the shooter as well as the motive yet to be reported, President Obama took to the national airwaves in a prepared statement to vilify and attack the American people for their supposed responsibility in not supporting more “common sense” gun control laws that would not have prevented this shooting. Obama began by stating that, “Our thoughts and prayers are not enough. It’s not enough. It does not capture the heartache and grief and anger that we should feel. And it does nothing to prevent this carnage from being inflicted someplace else in America — next week, or a couple of months from now. Somehow this has become routine. The reporting is routine. My response here at this podium ends up being routine. The conversation in the aftermath of it. We’ve become numb to this.”
The President continued:
And what’s become routine, of course, is the response of those who oppose any kind of common-sense gun legislation. Right now, I can imagine the press releases being cranked out: We need more guns, they’ll argue. Fewer gun safety laws. Does anybody really believe that? There are scores of responsible gun owners in this country –they know that’s not true. We know because of the polling that says the majority of Americans understand we should be changing these laws — including the majority of responsible, law-abiding gun owners…So how can you, with a straight face, make the argument that more guns will make us safer? We know that states with the most gun laws tend to have the fewest gun deaths. So the notion that gun laws don’t work, or just will make it harder for law-abiding citizens and criminals will still get their guns is not borne out by the evidence.
By stating that one cannot “make the argument that more guns will make us safer” while claiming that “states with the most gun laws tend to have the fewest gun deaths,” the President deliberately lied while also taking the focus and the blame off of the individual who perpetrated the crime and onto the gun and society itself. The President made no mention of the fact that the shooting occurred once again in a gun-free zone as he deceitfully claimed that states with the most gun laws have the fewest gun deaths. If we look at the actual facts “borne out by the evidence,” it isn’t hard to refute Obama’s claim.
For example, in 1998, Massachusetts passed what was hailed as the toughest gun-control legislation in the country. The law banned semiautomatic “assault” weapons, imposed strict new licensing rules, prohibited anyone convicted of a violent crime or drug trafficking from ever carrying or owning a gun, and enacted severe penalties for storing guns unlocked.“Today, Massachusetts leads the way in cracking down on gun violence,” said Republican Governor Paul Cellucci as he signed the bill into law. “It will save lives and help fight crime in our communities.” Scott Harshbarger, the state’s Democratic attorney general, agreed: “This vote is a victory for common sense and for the protection of our children and our neighborhoods.” One of the state’s leading anti-gun activists, John Rosenthal of Stop Handgun Violence, joined the applause. “The new gun law,” he predicted, “will certainly prevent future gun violence and countless grief.”
In reality, though, the law that was touted as being “common sense” was a disaster for law-abiding gun owners as it didn’t address the criminals; and since its passage in 1998, gun crime in Massachusetts has gotten worse. For example, in 2011, there were 122 murders committed with firearms as opposed to 65 in 1998. Furthermore, robbery with firearms climbed 20 percent as did aggravated assaults by 27 percent since the law was first enacted. Relative to the rest of the country, Massachusetts has become a more dangerous state; and according to the data released by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, the murder rate has increased by 33 percent since the law was passed. This example of “common sense” gun control reflects the reality of a law that not only fails to address the problem, but in fact exacerbates the problem. The law was so tough on law abiding citizens and their ability to obtain a firearm that it effectively rendered them defenseless in the face of criminals who used the law to their advantage.
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Yet, none of this matters in the face of a President who is hellbent on politicizing a tragedy, aided by a media that regurgitates his propaganda. Daniel Greenfield of FPM highlighted this as he observed Obama, during his “news” conference on Thursday, openly inform the media what propaganda he expected them to print.
This is something we should politicize. It is relevant to our common life together, to the body politic. I would ask news organizations to tally up the number of Americans who’ve been killed through terrorist attacks over the last decade and the number of Americans who’ve been killed by gun violence, and post those side-by-side on your news reports. This won’t be information coming from me; it will be coming from you.
Except that it is coming from “me.” Greenfield notes, “the media here got in their human centipede positions and started running the propaganda they were told to run.” To confirm Greenfield’s assertion, look at the following headlines from “news” outlets such as NBC, CNN, and the New York Times immediately following Obama’s Thursday press conference. From NBC, the headline reads “Number of Americans Killed by Gun Violence Vs. Terrorism Shows Stark Contrast” while at CNN, “American deaths in terrorism vs. gun violence in one graph,” and finally at the New York Times, “Terrorism vs. Gun Violence.” “This is real progress,” writes Greenfield, concluding “any day now the media will stop pretending that it’s a news organization and just print straight White House press releases.”
Yet, this wasn’t enough for Obama as he doubled down in his press conference on Friday, declaring that “the main thing I’m going to do is talk about this on a regular basis, and I will politicize it because our inaction is a political decision that we are making.” The President then took it a step further by mocking gun rights advocates as “absolutists,” and declared they “think that any gun safety measures are somehow an assault on freedom or communistic or a plot by me.”
Obama stated the following:
If we’re going to do something the politics has to change. And the people who are troubled by this have to be as intense and as organized and as adamant about this issue as folks on the other side who are absolutists and think that any gun safety measures are somehow an assault on freedom or communistic or a plot by me to, you know, take over. And stay in power for ever or something. I mean, there are all kinds of crack pot conspiracy theories that float around there. Some of which by the way are ratified by elected officials in the other party on occasion. So we’ve got to change the politics of this.
In order to “change the politics of this,” the media has launched a full fledged propaganda campaign against those they consider “absolutists” and “crack pot conspiracy theorists.” Therefore, Obama took aim at the National Rifle Association (NRA) for being the organization that he believes is full of “crack pot conspiracy theorists” during Thursday’s press conference as he urged gun owners to “think about” whether their “views are properly represented by the organization that suggests it’s speaking for you.” On Saturday, Linda Stasi of the New York Daily News called on the State Department to list the “gun loving NRA as a terrorist organization.” Stasi writes, “One terrorist group is responsible for more civilian deaths since December 2012 (the Sandy Hook massacre) than Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, Hamas and the Taliban. Yet it is the only nearly-state sponsored terrorist group that is not listed by the U.S. State Department as such. It is the National Rifle Association and for their unending lobbying that’s kept a lid on gun control we now have 428 times more American deaths by gun than deaths by foreign terrorists.”
Stasi’s article is the epitome of propaganda, as it combines both a comparison to terrorism, which Obama called for on Thursday, while also going after Obama’s “absolutists” in the NRA, which he called for on Friday. While Stasi’s article will be overlooked as just “nonsense,” it shouldn’t be because it’s a perfect example of how this administration uses their own talking points to exploit a horrific event in order to push an agenda based upon the media’s willingness to regurgitate pure propaganda. To truly understand how upside down reality has become in America under this administration and their control of our media, read the following statement by a foreign newspaper in the wake of the aftermath of the Charleston church shooting that left nine dead earlier this year.
In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, a familiar, shameful charade of exploitation unfolded yet again, seeking to reassert the ‘gun control’ agenda amid both national public opinion and across America’s legislative bodies. A mad rush has ensued to exploit anger, sorrow, and fear to once again attempt to snatch from responsible Americans their right to bear arms based on the criminal actions of a single individual.
The paper then goes on to note:
574 people have been killed in mass shootings for the last 30 years. However, 10,076 citizens are reported killed by drunk drivers each year. That is about 20 times more people killed in a single year due to drunk driving than in the past 30 years due to mass shootings. Mass media argues that gun ownership is increasingly unpopular, the primary cause of higher levels of violence than other industrialized nations, and that mass shootings are a major problem. Yet, when placed alongside other senseless causes of death, mass shootings while clearly better at grabbing headlines, are also clearly not the greatest challenge.
Finally, the article concludes:
The inconvenient reality regarding the true nature of violence and its relationship with guns is entirely sidestepped by the gun control agenda, primarily because the gun control agenda is about disarming the American public thus removing an obstacle toward totalitarianism, not to preserve innocent lives.
If you find yourself nodding with approval to those statements, it should alarm you because the paper I quoted was none other than Pravda.
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