Wars are won or lost based mostly on perceptions of events, not on what actually happens. This is true for any given battlefield, whether it’s the 1968 Tet Offensive in Vietnam or the ideological battlefield over the future of the First Amendment as played out in Charlottesville in 2017. The reality of what takes place in the public arena is always secondary to any projected illusion.
So let’s never forget this: Whoever has the power to dictate public perceptions of reality is in a position to dictate public opinion and behavior. Abusing language and images to stir up emotions is an ancient trick of power-mongers. And once journalism turns into unchecked propaganda, we become trapped in its dangerous illusions.
Only the teensiest fraction of Americans have any real interest in violent extremism, whether it be the violence represented by the specter of the Klu Klux Klan or the violence promoted by groups like Antifa who pretend they are fighting for social justice. But the media is promoting imagery of the former as a foil for the latter.
Why Are We Being Assaulted With Fringe Concerns?
Most Americans today are still just trying to live freely, to pursue happiness peacefully. Meanwhile, power elites in politics and the media are providing a daily platform for fringe elements who identify as white supremacists. Why would anyone in his right mind do such a thing? Again, we can only deduce that such imagery serves as a useful foil to lend moral high ground to “counter-protesters.” The media elites provoking them need white supremacy bogeymen in order to achieve their ultimate agenda, which, ironically, is to achieve total supremacy.
Against this staged backdrop, repeated over and over again, Americans are being emotionally manipulated to take up cause with those whose ultimate purpose is the repeal of the First Amendment and erasure of national memory. As Helen Raleigh recently wrote in The Federalist, this has all the hallmarks of an attempted Maoist-style cultural revolution.
We should be asking why these elites insist that violence-prone groups on the American Left—such as Antifa, Occupy, Moveon.org, etc.—are pure as the driven snow, as peaceful as sleeping babes. Obviously it disrupts the narrative to know that the Southern Poverty Law Center inspired gunmen into attempted massacres, including the one in June that critically wounded GOP Rep. Steve Scalise and the 2012 shooting at the Family Research Council. So maintaining the illusion of such groups’ innocence is what allowed Michael Moore to argue in a recent CNN interview that he was promoting a society of “love” while smearing as racist every one of the 60 million Americans who voted for Trump. That’s a rallying cry for national division.
The polarization of America didn’t happen overnight. It’s actually not even all that real. It’s been teased out over many decades by media, entertainment, and academia in order to reap the agitation we’re seeing today. Understanding the how and why of this process is critical to reviving civil society and our freedoms. So, how did this all come to be? There are myriad factors: family breakdown, mob psychology, fear of being politically incorrect, the cultivation of ignorance in public education, the inflammation of resentments and hatred and false guilt.
A lot more factors are responsible for the state of mass delusion we appear to be in today, but I’ll try to map out three elements I think the recent gruesome events in Charlottesville highlight: 1. the manipulation of our language; 2. the deliberate use of such loaded language to cultivate extreme emotions in people, particularly anger and resentment; and 3. the role of mass media as a nuclear device to impose those perceptions on a mass scale
Element 1: Loading the Language
Mavens of social media have inundated us with trendy terms intended to mold our thought patterns. Let’s just consider two expressions: “alt-right” and “woke.” First, “alt-right.” It’s a tar-and-feather term intended to eliminate independent thought by getting the masses to associate the “right” with various boogeymen like the KKK of old. The goal is to eliminate their “hate speech.” Once the alt-right domino falls, then conservatives’ speech goes. Then the speech of everybody else, because the First Amendment must stand for everyone or it stands for absolutely no one.
Then there’s the expression “woke.” It’s even more direct in its purpose: literally to activate people into a program of collective thought reform. “Woke” is a semantic device that promotes social distrust and even paranoia. The idea is that evil conspiracies—white supremacism, slavery, Confederate flags—are behind every bush targeting you. It comes with corollary slogans, such as #staywoke and #stayangry.
Such terms are the pieces of anti-intellectual spaghetti that stick to the walls of our minds when we are not equipped to think independent thoughts. The thought police aim to make certain words and thoughts catch on in the hive mind, thereby cultivating certain emotions and behaviors in people.
But when honestly defined, the term “woke” actually means “programmed.” You can see it in today’s manufactured mobs composed of individuals who identify as social justice warriors. Any different opinion is likely to trigger a panic attack in them. They are blindly obedient to college professors who get them to confess their guilt for being born into “white privilege”—or being born at all. They parrot taunts to their perceived enemies and take safety in mobs that threaten violence, knowing full well when the local political machine has kneecapped police, whether it be in Berkeley or Charlottesville.
The coordinated mob violence we see playing out essentially over the existence of historical monuments and free speech goes well beyond indoctrination and brainwashing. It is a cult mindset deliberately cultivated by elites in education, pop culture, and academia.
When Anti-Fascism Means Fascism
So in a very real sense, as George Orwell wrote in “1984,” words take on their opposite meanings. For example, freedom means slavery and vice versa. Ignorance means strength. Today it’s clear that the hyped term “anti-fascism” as in Antifa actually means fascism.
Is there anything President Trump could have said or done that would have made a difference under today’s social and media conditions? Perhaps for a few thoughtful people, his choice of words would have made a difference. But for the most part, even if he had from the outset spoken in a presidential manner and with all of the Left’s approved words, nothing would have changed in the propaganda media. Even if Trump had mimicked the SPLC and said the Charlottesville rioting was only about white supremacy and the KKK and that, yes, all historical monuments that Alinskyites want down should come down, it would not have changed the anti-speech trajectory of the anti-speech mob.
We are in full mass delusion mode. Our language has been undermined to game our perceptions. Those altered perceptions pull us into the groupthink that feeds fake public opinion cascades. Large segments of society, including many who should know better, have fallen for it, speaking apologetically and bolstering what is clearly a ruse to repeal the First Amendment. They fear someone might think them a bigot if they criticize the violence perpetrated by anti-speech activists like Antifa and Occupy. So they feed the violence by giving it a pass.
Element 2: Using Distorted Language to Rub Resentments Raw
The growth of this cult-like mentality is reflected in Orwell’s essay “Politics and the English Language.” He states that the whole point of manipulating language is to obfuscate in order to control. Anger and resentment are strong, natural motivators for getting people to attack perceived enemies. Bitterness is at the heart of every grudge, and those drunk on power have always depended on such misery to play their divide-and-conquer games.
Once bitterness sets in, it rots out the human capacity for social harmony and acts of mercy. At best, it’s passive-aggressive. At worst, it’s the short fuse to violence. At the core of it all is identity politics enforced by political correctness, special tools of propagandists to divide us in order to conquer us.
When people nurse grudges, they tend to grow into obsessions. Obsessions easily become delusions as we perseverate upon them, creating ever more monsters in our minds. Pretty soon a bunch of kids are pulling down a statue in Durham, North Carolina to engage in what psychiatrist Joost Meerloo described as “ecstatic participation in mass elation.” In his book “The Rape of the Mind,” Meerloo called this type of mob action “the oldest psycho-drama in the world.”
When minds become captive to the propagandist’s boogeymen, our survival mechanisms go into effect and we feel we must slay monsters, whether real or imaginary. This is especially true when a mob of supposedly like-minded folks come together to face off against their common enemy. Like in Charlottesville or any other place where a governor might abuse his power to promote riots by making sure there is no law enforcement present to maintain order. That was always the real point of promoting the riots in Charlottesville and so many other places by getting the police to stand down. The purpose of the media collusion is to get their movie running 24/7 in as many heads as possible.
We’ve not been vigilant as we’ve been taken down a long road of what influence guru Robert Cialdini calls “pre-suasion,” or laying the groundwork to influence others’ decisions, then taking advantage of the “privileged moments” that ensue. The privileged moment of the Left today consists of a pompous moral elevation to get people to focus on a well-cultivated fear of being tainted by association with racist nutcases. Unless we quickly become more vigilant to this ruse, it’ll be too late when we realize we’ve been manipulated by Stalinists all along.
Alinskyite Cultivation of Hatred
None of this is new. The archetypal agitation expert Saul Alinsky considered resentment an absolutely essential tool for replacing freedom with totalitarianism. All in the name of freedom, of course. If you study history, you’ll note how all tyrants project their own intentions onto their perceived opponents. It’s a well-documented pattern in all genocides. Fascism can only come to power in America, for example, through an echo chamber repetitiously promoted as “anti-fascism.”
Consider these choice quotes from Alinsky’s book “Rules for Radicals,” which serves as a guidebook on the art of cultivating hatred in people: “The organizer must first rub raw the resentments of the people of the community; fan the latent hostilities of many of the people to the point of overt expression . . . an organizer must stir up dissatisfaction and discontent; provide a channel into which people can angrily pour their frustrations . . . your function – to agitate to the point of conflict.”
Here’s another choice quote from that piece of work: “The one thing that all oppressed people want to do to their oppressors is sh-t on them.” The trick is to get people to conjure up the illusion of white hoods behind every bush, and redefine the word “hate” so it applies to anybody who thinks a thought independent of elitist groups like the SPLC.
Alinsky knew that a few power-hungry elites like himself couldn’t simply undermine a free nation on their own. He needed drones to do his bidding—mob mobilization papered over with the euphemism “community organizing.” This is why totalitarians—from Marx to Lenin to Stalin to Mao to Castro and so on—always depend upon agitating and mobilizing masses via the abuse of mass media. Real debate is anathema to that goal, which is why free speech is always such an enemy of tyrants. Free speech is an essential antidote to any form of slavery.
Element 3: Mass Manipulation Via Mass-Media Propaganda
Our brains work primarily by making associations towards whatever is capturing our attention at any given moment. Out of sight, out of mind. But obsess on something and it consumes you. This is why power elites make a point of directing our focus 24/7.
Social psychologists and marketing experts know very well that we are driven by our perceptions of reality, not by reality itself. As Cialdini pronounced, “What’s focal is causal.” Once the media captures our focus, manipulators can take advantage of “privileged moments” to get us to behave their way.
This human vulnerability has become magnified in the age of social media. False images and memes now flicker like strobe lights through our brains at breakneck speed. The only way to discern reality is to put down the devices and actively seek out what is real from what is perceived. And to ask some real questions, such as: Where exactly is the violence coming from? Are things really as they seem? Are we being hypnotized to echo the constant flickering of this imagery?
Media Collusion with Rioting
An oft-quoted proclamation from Bolshevik power-monger Vladimir Lenin goes like this: “The press should be not only a collective propagandist and a collective agitator, but also a collective organizer of the masses . . . We must be ready to employ trickery, deceit, law-breaking, withholding and concealing truth… We can and must write in a language which sows among the masses hate, revulsion, and scorn toward those who disagree with us.”
Media elites largely now collude with rioting that serves their agendas. But, as all community organizers understand, it’s nearly useless to try to mobilize people who’ve got productive lives to live and an interest in the world beyond themselves. Such people have family loyalties and strong friendships and no appetite for hatred. They tend to be people who are culturally literate with natural curiosity and a basic grasp of human history, or at least of human nature.
Since love and knowledge and self-reliance stand in the way of totalitarian goals, all of that has to be destroyed. Only by creating the predictable sense of alienation their policies promote can Alinskyites grow their necessary hive of drones.
The End Result: Division and Loneliness
In the end, the war against free speech is a war against conversation and human fellowship. Without free speech, our alienation from one another would become complete. We couldn’t get to ever really know one another once all of our social interactions became regulated. Real friendships would be obstructed.
When “Coming Apart” author Charles Murray was undergoing his tarring and feathering by the mob at Middlebury College that refused to let him speak, he spent some time looking out at the individuals in the mass. He reflected on what he found, especially in how the students mindlessly modeled the behavior of their peers: “Many looked like they had come straight out of casting for a film of brownshirt rallies. In some cases, I can only describe their eyes as crazed and their expressions as snarls. Melodramatic, I know. But that’s what they looked like.”
In fact, they look like kids in the grip of a cult mindset: Lost. Lonely. Deluded. Deceived. Just scan these sad mugshots of Antifa protesters released by the Portland, Oregon police department after they were arrested for violent acts on May Day this year. It’s a collection of faces filled with cluelessness, loss, and delusion. The mugshot of the identified white supremacist who plowed his car into the crowd, killing a woman, fits right in with them.
Finally, consider the young environmental activist Jeff Jacoby wrote about in the Boston Globe recently. She was peer-pressured into a desperate door-to-door attempt to save the planet and ended up sobbing from exhaustion at the reporter’s doorstep: “It gnaws at her to see how angry so many people are these days. She wasn’t raised to hate people whose politics are different from hers, she told us.”
Indeed, this gnaws on all people of goodwill when resentments are rubbed so raw. Yet alienated people are being filled with hatred and deployed to the streets to serve the agendas of political and media elites. Jacoby’s headline states “we are a nation on the verge of a nervous breakdown.” I’d add that because of the gaslighting tactics of power elites, we are actually in the throes of a nervous breakdown.