Robust Skepticism: Understanding Propaganda and Persuasion

It has been a couple of weeks since I have written anything. I needed some time to sit back and reflect on what impact, if any, my writing was having on readers. Writing is just like anything else. People want to feel as if there is a payoff in their efforts. My writing has generally challenged mainstream conservative beliefs and I have received much criticism for doing so. I can take it if it is well thought out and there are cognizant points to be made. On the other hand, I have had my share of readers who have reached out personally to say that they see the points I am making, and based on their own experiences and studies, they know I am writing something of substance. In a world where memes and headlines form popular opinion, that in and of itself is a payoff. If, over the course of the past few years, my writing encouraged one person to shut off the television news and immerse themself in a deep study of propaganda, persuasion, or Critical Theory, it is worth it. Why does any of this matter and why would people care? Americans continue to be propagandized and they continue to march along with the agenda-setting role of the media, letting them dictate what it is we are thinking about.

What is the agenda-setting role of the media and how is it affecting public perceptions? Media propaganda is something I have spent a great deal of time writing about. Conservatives seem to understand propaganda to a certain point, excluding, however, the possibility that they could be affected by it. Everyone is potentially affected by propaganda, it just depends on how much time people are willing to investigate issues on their own. For example, when Covid-19 hit and people were confused and unsure of what was going on while they depleted the stores of toilet paper, I was investigating something called the Health Belief Model of Behavioral Change, and how it was used to study how easily people could be persuaded to wear masks in the face of a viral threat. Of course, I wasn’t the only one questioning Covid, but the fact that I was investigating things on my own meant that I was less susceptible to the propaganda being pushed on us. Joost Meerloo, in Rape of the Mind, states that people can build resistance to mind control if they understand the nature of the propaganda being used against them. This is an idea that I have centered my writing around. My website contains many articles revolving around persuasion, psychology, propaganda and CRT, all written from an academic perspective, citing the sources so that others may follow them. For all the criticism I have received, I know I am not easily fooled by the media.

Going back to the question posed in the second paragraph. What is the agenda-setting role of the media? According to the book Media Effects: Advances in Theory and Research, the agenda-setting role is the ability to influence the salience of topics on the public agenda. In other words, the ability to dictate what the general public considers to be the most important topics of the day. When studying propaganda, it is important to be able to cross-reference and compare what other people say. For instance, Joost Meerloo states on pg. 22 of Rape of the Mind that the purpose of propaganda is to “condition man’s mind to a narrow, totalitarian concept of the world.” Noam Chomsky said in Manufacture of Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media, that differing opinions are allowed to exist within certain “bounds and margins” so that one, it appears there is a free press, and two, the differing opinions can be controlled. In other words, conservatives watching Fox News, for example, are having their opinions fed to them. Fox exists to shape and define conservative thought so that it can be kept within the margins that are useful to the totalitarian agenda. Don’t get angry at me, I am just a messenger here. Read these books for yourself and compare the information to the garbage being peddled to you in the media.

Now that we have an idea of what the agenda-setting role of the media means, we have to ask ourselves what the agenda actually is. What do they want us to think about? The obvious answer to that question is Donald Trump. The left-wing media portrays him as an evil fascist. A racist, homophobic, sexist, misogynist who leads a radical right-wing extremist movement that tried to overthrow the capital. The right wing portrays him as the only hope for the country. The greatest president that ever lived. Single-handedly draining the swamp with a brilliant game of 4D chess. So brilliant in fact, that the left was able to steal the election right out from under his feet. There are two possibilities here. Well, actually there are three, it just depends on how willing people are to accept the third. One, Donald Trump’s victory in the 2020 election was stolen from him, meaning that he didn’t effectively drain the swamp. In order to pull off a move like that the swamp has to be pretty deep. Don’t get me wrong, looking at things at face value it seems illogical that he would have lost. Biden was Obama’s VP and Trump’s first victory was definitely a complete repudiation of eight years of Obama-style socialism. The second possibility is that he legitimately lost the election because his very presence infuriates the left and they were able to effectively organize a campaign to beat him. From my perspective, neither one of these possibilities seem like a good reason to vote for him again, but I digress. The third possibility, one that I happen to think is the most likely of the three, is that he is just another part of the propaganda machine, playing a role to aid the public agenda. What is the public agenda?  Destroying and discrediting the patriot movement by portraying the right as violent extremists.

It is hard for me, based on everything I have read about persuasion and propaganda, to believe otherwise. First, the man was never a conservative, to begin with. He was a New York Democrat. The American public largely accepted his victory as a sigh of relief because Hillary Clinton didn’t win. There is a theory of persuasion that explains this called the fear-then-relief principle. I would encourage you to read my article on this topic, however, it can be easily explained by looking at Rules for Radicals. To gain some insight into the significance of Alinsky when it comes to Trump, you have to understand that Trump and the Clintons have been friends for a long time. Even after winning the election, after all of his rhetoric about throwing her in jail, he later exclaimed that he had a lot of respect for her and Billie boy. If you do a google search on Trump and Clinton’s friendship you will see all kinds of articles pop up stating that yes, at one time they were friends but they no longer are. What? That’s baloney. Bill Clinton encouraged Trump to run one year before the 2016 election. Why, if they are ideological enemies, would that be the case? Maybe that’s fake news. Who knows? What I do know is that Hillary Clinton wrote her college thesis entitled There is only the Fight, on Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals and how to change the government from within. The thing about the left is that they are willing to employ any means necessary to achieve their goals. Morality to them is a willingness to corrupt themselves in pursuit of what they deem to be, the greater good. Going back to Alinsky a moment, he said that people can be brought to accept any change if they reach a point of hopelessness. This is the necessary catalyst for a revolutionary movement. It is safe to say that after eight years of Obama, the prospect of four more years of liberalism brought America to a point of hopelessness, so they put their hope in Trump. When he won, the relief felt among American conservatives was so powerful it created a non-questioning, compliant attitude. This is the fear-then-relief principle at work.  Again, I would encourage you to study it. I would also encourage you to ask why so many people refuse to accept that Trump called for red flag laws, which deny the fundamental constitutional right of due process while calling him the best president ever. The answer lies in the study of persuasion, but I digress.

I think conservatives understand that the media, along with the government, are working hand in hand to portray the patriot movement as radical and extreme. It is beyond obvious that the January 6 insurrection was little more than a staged psyop meant to make Trump supporters look like deranged revolutionaries. At what point will they begin to question Trump’s incendiary rhetoric? Why would Trump, for example, publicly state that his indictment, however fake it may be, would lead to “death and destruction,” hinting at the possibility that his supporters would riot in the streets? Trump’s popularity has largely been due to his quick and snarky comebacks aimed at the left. These remarks, however, have done little more than add fuel to the fire, being used as evidence that the right is violent and hateful. At a time when the conservatives are being portrayed as racist white nationalists, stating there is a possibility of death and destruction if he is indicted is one of two things. Incredibly stupid, meaning we shouldn’t elect him again, or it is done on purpose to aid in the public agenda of discrediting the conservative movement. I have been critical of Trump but I know that his supporters, despite their seeming inability to question certain things, are among some of the greatest Americans in the country. They are patriotic, hard-working people that drive society forward, not violent extremists. That title surely belongs to the left.

This isn’t the first time I have discussed this theory. It certainly is one that has gained me a great deal of criticism, while isolating me from a bigger part of the conservative audience. I can’t say that is definitively true. I admit it is speculation, but it is speculation based on real research done by others, diving into the frailties of the human mind and its susceptibility to propaganda and willingness to believe what it is told. One thing that people fail to understand is that the mind’s susceptibility to persuasion and the power of suggestion is something that has been under the microscope since the 1930s. My website contains many articles discussing this along with the links and citations necessary for one to study it on their own. That is all I really ask. Check out the sources and if you still disagree with me, that’s fine, at least you are able to see why I have developed the opinion I have. At the very least, understand that I believe liberty requires robust skepticism and the questioning of everything that comes from the media. Let’s not forget the quote by Franklin Roosevelt. “In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way.” Just food for thought. Thanks for reading.


Don’t forget to check out my books on CRT, and Persuasion.

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