Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Is the Schiavo case propaganda?

What is propaganda? Systematic manipulation of public opinion.

I find it rather bizarre that an American group which is wholeheartedly embracing the invasion of another country. The killing of up to 100,000 people in that country travelling on the "support our troops(tm)" and "yellow ribbon(tm)" bandwagon; is targetted for a ride on the new "Terri Schiavo" bandwagon, in what pans out as an ethically challenging case.

The conservative Republican party has even taking a ride, in fact they seem to be the good ol' wagoneer. For some reason the fate of this woman has something to score political points on.

GOP memo says issue offers political rewards
By The Washington Post

WASHINGTON — Republican leaders believe their attention to the Terri Schiavo issue could pay dividends with Christian conservatives whose support they covet in the 2006 midterm elections, according to a GOP memo intended to be seen only by senators.

The one-page memo, distributed to Republican senators by party leaders, called the debate over Schiavo legislation "a great political issue" that would appeal to the party's base, or core, supporters. The memo singled out Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., who is up for re-election next year.

"This is an important moral issue, and the pro-life base will be excited that the Senate is debating this important issue," said the memo, reported by ABC News and later given to The Washington Post. "This is a great political issue, because Senator Nelson of Florida has already refused to become a co-sponsor and this is a tough issue for Democrats."

However in the case of all good propaganda..... what is it's objective to make Joe sixpack think or more importantly NOT THINK about?

Perhaps it is diverting public opinion away from other issues that will affect all Americans.

What will Joe Six Pack think if his social security dollars are taken out of Government hands and into the private sector? Could be risky....

Or what about that war in Iraq which we still don't seem to have won? I think he's getting a bit suspicious about that one.....

Or what about the issue of video news releases? Not that exciting..... Joe won't mind....but some important issues there that the eggheaded intellectuals may get excited about.

Let's see....... What does Joe Sixpak think about bioethics? Nothing. Lets make him interested!!!

From sourcewatch we find the following:

The media frenzy over the Terri Schiavo case had the benefit for the Bush administration of swamping media coverage of Social Security privatization, video news releases and the Iraq war. A set of talking points circulated amongst Republicans urging Congress intervene in the issue stated "This is an important moral issue and the pro-life base will be excited that the Senate is debating this important issue" and that "this is a great political issue, because Senator Nelson of Florida - has already refused to become a cosponsor and this is a tough issue for Democrats."

Pre-made "talking points"? This is what the current powers that be want to take a stand on, to get another three or four year ride on the gravy train. Could it be they want you to be fighting about this political wedge rather than being open and frank about some potentially bigger and albeit more unpopular issues?

Now, the case has been going on for some time now; first usenet message that I can find is in 2000 where it was picked up from Florida's St. Petersberg Times.The BBC timeline shows that lawsuits to do with this case have been going on since 1993. So this is been going on for twelve years and now it's an issue? Give me a break. A google search for the term "terri shiavo" comes up with no less than about 3,600,00 results. It is garnering a lot of attention and a lot of opinion..... even here downunder.

How does this relate as a propaganda issue? Well we have two groups the "right to life(tm)" and the "right to die(tm)" camps plus some other "right to____" groups. Paul Linebarger sums up the process of setting two groups against each other and the forming of opinions via covert means in his book Psychological Warfare.

What a person thinks- his opinion is workable in relation to what he does. In practical life his opinion only takes effect only when it is part of the opinion of the group. Some groups are formed by the common opinion and have nothing else in common; at a spiritualist meeting you may see the banker sitting next to his own charwoman. Most groups are groups because they of the things which the people are (Descendents of Francis Bacon, the hard of hearing); or things they do (electrical workers, lawyers, farmers, stamp collectors), or things they have (factory owners, nothing but wages, apartment houses) in common. The community of something practical makes the the group have a community of opinion which arises from the problems they think they face with respect to their common interests. Such groups are not only opinion groups, they are interest groups. It is these groups that do things as groups. It is these groups that propaganda tries to stir up, move, set against each other, and use in any handy way. (Few individuals belong to one group at a time; the groups are almost illimitable in number.)

The propagandist should not get the idea that a group exists it is a potential source of weakness or cleavage. Workers are not always against employers, nor the aged against the young, nor women against men, nor shippers against the railwaymen.. In a well run society, groups have interest only for limited purposes. Railwaymen are not permanently hostile to truckers, shippers, fliers, canal operators. At the moment they may be the maddest of all at the insurance companies because of siome quarrel about insurance premiums and risks.

The poor propagandist tries to butt in on every fight, even when there is none. Often his propaganda is received they way an intervenor is received in most family quarrels, with the bland question, "What fight? We ain't mad." Sound propaganda picks up only those group issues which are acute enough to stand a little help from outside. If outside help would be the kiss-of-death to the group that is helped, then black propaganda [propaganda from an unknown source] instead of white [ propaganda from a known source] is indicated. In any case, sound operating intelligence is the first precondition to the attempted psychological manipulation of enemy groups."

You see, sometimes it is important to craft an opinion, either to divert or manipulate or cloud what is really on the radar. It sometimes even pays to increase interest and opinion in groups that previously one would never had the first thought about.

Social security recipients [most Americans] and taxpayers[Americans paying tax funding oil raids] are two rather large groups. If "they" divert attention away from these large groups opinions and into other groups opinions with the help of some rather large media groups (who coincedentally have a vested interest in their share prices manipulated by pension funds) perhaps "they" may be able to slip some legislation under the radar.

It might be better if "they" break these large taxpayer and SocSec groups opininions down a bit and have them form opinions about something that is politically sensational.... rather than the organised theft which will be less popular. Classic Machiavellian divide and conquer.

However all is not lost. On wikipedia we find.

According to an ABC News poll from March 21, 70 percent of Americans believe that Terri Schiavo's death should not be a federal matter, and are opposed to the legislation transferring the case to federal court. In the same poll, a 63 percent majority said that they support the removal of Schiavo's feeding tube. A 67 percent majority agreed with the statement that "elected officials trying to keep Schiavo alive are doing so more for political advantage than out of concern for her or for the principles involved."


A poll by CBS News showed that 82 percent of respondents believe the Congress and President should stay out of the matter, while 74 percent thought it was "all about politics". Only 13 percent think Congress acted out of concern for Terri Schiavo. Furthermore, Congressional approval ratings sank to 34 percent, the lowest number since 1997.
So maybe there's hope for us yet.

And for some guys who've taken a good look into what is this all really about? Check here.


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