The Nazi Minister of Propaganda, the evil Joseph Goebbels said, “He who controls the message, controls the masses.”
All dictatorships function very much from this premise as we see even now a days in totalitarian governments that limit Internet access, block websites, and filter news and messages from the people, so as to keep them docile and servile.
However, even in a democracy as fine as ours, the ability to control the message is a very powerful tool in directing how events are understood by the public and what action is taken, or not.
Some recent examples:
1) Syria’s Use of Chemical Weapons:
Numerous allies including England, France, and Israel say they have intelligence about Syria’s use of sarin gas against their own people…So did Syria cross the red line and use chemical weapons requiring us to take action or is this a matter for investigation and evidence?
2) Iran’s Violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty:
Iran is one of the world’s richest in energy resources and reserves…So is Iran violating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty necessitating that we stop them or are they just building nuclear facilities for peaceful civilian energy needs?
3) Egyptian Military Coup and Roadmap For Reconciliation:
Egypt’s military overthrew the Egyptian Prime Minister from the Muslim Brotherhood who oversaw the rewriting of the constitution in 2011 to be based on Islamic law and not inclusive of other more secular elements of society…So is the restoration of true democracy and civil rights for the Egyptian people or a brutal coup?
4) Sudan Committing Genocide in Darfur:
With over 400,000 killed, 2,500,000 displaced, and 400 villages completely destroyed in Darfur…So did Sudan commit genocide requiring prevention, intervention, and punishment or was this just Sudanese internal conflict?
5) People Employed in U.S. at 30-Year Lows:
The proportion of the U.S. population that is working is at low rates not seen since the recession of the 1980’s…So is the unemployment rate still a critical national issue or is the unemployment rate really better and the economy strong again?
6) Edward Snowden Leaking Classified Information:
Snowden sought out the job with Booz Allen Hamilton to gather evidence on classified NSA surveillance and when he did he leaked this information to the news and harmed national security…So is Snowden a traitor or a whistleblower?
7) An $82 Billion Federal IT Budget:
The Federal IT budget is anticipated to rise to $82 billion in 2014…So are we still spending on large troubled IT projects or realizing billions in IT savings from new technology trends in cloud, mobile, social computing and more?
As Bill Clinton in 1998 said when questioned about the Monica Lewinsky affair…”It depends what the meaning of the word is, is?”
We see clearly that definitions are important, interpretations are important, and spin can make right seem wrong and wrong seem like right.
How we communicate and present something is very important and has critical ramifications on what is done about it whether in terms of action, attribution, and retribution.
Moreover, we should keep in mind that “He who knows doesn’t tell, and he who tells doesn’t know,” so there are limits to what even gets communicated from the get-go.
What is communicated, when, and in how much clarity or distortion is a function one on hand of people’s agendas, biases, career building (including the desire to get and keep power), as well as the genuine need for secrecy and security.
On the other hand, the desire for openness, transparency, truth, and healthy debate (facilitated by the media, checks and balances in government, and the judicial system) provides a counterbalance.
We the people must press to determine–is the person telling it like it is or are some things being contrived, manipulated, edited, and Photoshopped.
In the end, critical thinking and looking beyond the surface can make the difference between what we know we know and what we think we know. 😉
(Source Photo: here with attribution to Jah~)