In and article on Stuff online Newspaper we read how the three soldiers who died in a roadside bomb explosion were Committed, Courageous and full of Comradeship and while I don’t doubt that they were people of a high moral calibre I would like to take this opportunity to point out to you what is a great example of main stream media propaganda.
When people you know die and especially those you love and respect you can’t help (unless your name is John Key of course) but grief. It’s what makes us human.
The ability to empathise with our own and even with an extremely extended “our own” is what enables us to build complex societies in which we can keep the peace for extended periods. It is however also what can be used to get us to hate others we don’t consider to be part of “our own” and here is how that works.
First of all those who need us to hate other people will need to create an emotional divide between us and them. Us being “our own” an good and them being “the enemy” and therefore bad.
In order to do so we have to be divided into two heaps of qualities. Into 2 dimensional human cut outs we can easily identify with but which have nothing to do with the 3 Dimensionality of everyday humanity.
Nothing works better in this game than young dead people who died violently at the hands of unidentifiable members of the people they want us to hate.
Dead people after all can’t disappoint us or show us that in life they were people with both good and not so good qualities. They are like a canvas the people who need us to hate can paint on in order to make us do exactly that and what’s more it is made even easier because we are in a state of shock and grieving for the death of young people ho should not have died the way they did and who should have been with their families and friends to live full 3 dimensional lives.
This is where the propaganda machine can do its damage and here is how they did it in the article I referred to earlier.
First of all we need to be told that “we” and not “them” have the moral high ground and the “better” human qualities which justify our killing them. The human Qualities we apparently have in abundance are COMMITMENT, COURAGE and COMRADESHIP. Yes, indeed we do and these three wonderful human qualities even have a name and a recognisable face. And here is how they present it:
Now let me stress again that I don’t mean in any way to diminish these young unfortunate people who died in a war so very far away from home but let us also remember that no matter their reasons they choose to enlist in an Army and that while they had that choice the people in Afghanistan do not and that while these three young people might for all intends and purposes have made their choice based on a desire to “help” people this is a war waged on foreign soil with many innocent people dying as the result of what our allies are doing over there.
But I digress so let’s get back to the propagandising of their deaths. Notice how the photo’s caption is written.
The quality they want us to appropriate and deny our “enemy” is written in capitals and the name of the person they want to imbue with the quality and which we will accept as our quality is written in small letters under the photos. Doesn’t that make you feel a bit special right there. Those are splendid qualities to have aren’t they and since these people died having these qualities and since they look like us it is a lot harder to think that those dark people with beards and strange clothes who were inhuman enough to place roadside bombs to kill these people who were in a Heroic mission to save an ill fellow soldier might be acting from the same source of empathy, and grief and with the same commitment. courage and comradeship as we are told these three young people are the very personification off?
In fact we are told that if a member of the “enemy” performs a hostile act it must be because he is treacherous. In fact here is a perfect example of the other half of the Propaganda game. A video which emerged of an Afghani who killed several of “our” troops by infiltrating the Afghan official Army trained by “Us” and who is being honoured by fellow fighters is being transformed into the other 2D cut out: That of the treacherous, vile and untrustworthy enemy and member of the 2D enemy group were are told is called the Taliban and the video shot of that occasion is called sickening.
You see when we attack we are good but when they do it they are bad.
This is how Propaganda works.
If the people who want us to hate do it well enough they get some other kudos from this as well. If you criticise the war they want us to fight you are a traitor, if you point out that the “enemy” are humans too you are demoralising the troops, if you point out that the people who want us to hate make an inordinate amount of money from the fact that on both sides people are dying, you are unpatriotic and if you point out that perhaps those who want us to hate lied to us about the reasons to go to war you might end up in a Psychiatric ward even if you were one of those imbued with those wonderful qualities COMMITMENT, COURAGE and COMRADESHIP and went to fight in these “patriotic” and “righteous” wars.
So if you want to honour Jacinda Baker, Luke Tamatea and Richard Harris then do so in the full realisation that they were real 3D human beings who died in a situation not of their own making and who were too young to die. They had hobbies and pet peeves and friends and enemies and they were part of the “Us” that makes us human and they were not the personification of COMMITMENT, COURAGE and COMRADESHIP.
Ad if you want to really honour them that do so in the full realisation that the people we call our “enemy” are just like us. They are fathers and mothers and the children off… They fight for their country and their culture and their sense of “Us” just like we do but they are different to us in one respect. they are not in our country, we are in theirs and let me put it to you:
If they were in our country and told us they were here to help us build our country with guns slung over their shoulders and with drones killing our families would you believe them or would you contemplate roadside bombs too?