For those who might not know, Goebbels was Adolph Hitler’s propaganda minister from 1933 until his suicide in 1945. Goebbels controlled all the media in Germany: television, radio and the printed press. The people only heard what he wanted them to hear. He dehumanized the Jews and made them the scapegoat for all of Germany’s ills and made the German people believe that they were a superior race.
One of Goebbels’ main principles was that propaganda must label events and people with distinctive phrases or slogans. Like labeling yourself a “maverick” even when you went along with the party line 90 percent of the time. But if you keep saying it people will start to believe it, whether it is true or not. And don’t forget the “surge.” Six years of occupation in Iraq and McCain-Palin want us to only remember the “surge.” We should just forget the other five and a half years.
Another of Goebbels’ principles was that propaganda must reinforce anxiety concerning the consequences of defeat. Remember Palin’s comment to Obama that if we leave Iraq any time soon we will be waiving a white flag and surrendering? We would have lost the war. That could make quite a few people very anxious. We could lose the war and then what? Al Qaeda will be in our backyard? Keep the people scared and they will be compliant.
Goebbels also said that propaganda must facilitate the displacement of aggression by specifying the targets for hatred. How about Palin’s recent comment that Obama “pals around with terrorists” and her racist comment of “This is not a man who sees America like you and I see America”? This is the “us verses them” approach or “you’re either for us or against us.” It worked for Goebbels by vilifying the Jews and labeling every other race as inferior.
Imagine that. Obama may have a different view of America than a white woman from rural Alaska. The United States has a very checkered history in its treatment of non-whites. If you were not white and from northern Europe you were not part of the mainstream. We have a history of enslaving blacks, committing genocide against Native Americans, persecuting the Chinese and interning Japanese-American citizens. Even with all this history we are still the greatest nation on Earth but that doesn’t make us perfect. We need to learn from our mistakes and make the future even better.
But McCain and Palin want to divide and conquer. Call Obama a terrorist sympathizer, imply that a black man is less American than a white woman. They want to stir up fear and hatred. Goebbels would have been proud.
Jeff Blanck is an attorney in private practice in Reno. He can be reached at jblanck@