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September 25, 2013

Propaganda Terms in the Media and What They Mean – Noam Chomsky


Watch the full speech:…

United States and the Soviet Union both used propaganda extensively
during the Cold War. Both sides used film, television, and radio
programming to influence their own citizens, each other, and Third World
nations. The United States Information Agency operated the Voice of
America as an official government station. Radio Free Europe and Radio
Liberty, which were, in part, supported by the Central Intelligence
Agency, provided grey propaganda in news and entertainment programs to
Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union respectively. The Soviet Union’s
official government station, Radio Moscow, broadcast white propaganda,
while Radio Peace and Freedom broadcast grey propaganda. Both sides also
broadcast black propaganda programs in periods of special crises.

1948, the United Kingdom’s Foreign Office created the IRD (Information
Research Department), which took over from wartime and slightly post-war
departments such as the Ministry of Information and dispensed
propaganda via various media such as the BBC and publishing.

ideological and border dispute between the Soviet Union and People’s
Republic of China resulted in a number of cross-border operations. One
technique developed during this period was the “backwards transmission,”
in which the radio program was recorded and played backwards over the
air. (This was done so that messages meant to be received by the other
government could be heard, while the average listener could not
understand the content of the program.)

When describing life in
capitalist countries, in the US in particular, propaganda focused on
social issues such as poverty and anti-union action by the government.
Workers in capitalist countries were portrayed as “ideologically close”.
Propaganda claimed rich people from the US derived their income from
weapons manufacturing, and claimed that there was substantial racism or
neo-fascism in the US.

When describing life in Communist
countries, western propaganda sought to depict an image of a citizenry
held captive by governments that brainwash them. The West also created a
fear of the East, by depicting an aggressive Soviet Union. In the
Americas, Cuba served as a major source and a target of propaganda from
both black and white stations operated by the CIA and Cuban exile
groups. Radio Habana Cuba, in turn, broadcast original programming,
relayed Radio Moscow, and broadcast The Voice of Vietnam as well as
alleged confessions from the crew of the USS Pueblo.

Orwell’s novels Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four are virtual
textbooks on the use of propaganda. Though not set in the Soviet Union,
these books are about totalitarian regimes that constantly corrupt
language for political purposes. These novels were, ironically, used for
explicit propaganda. The CIA, for example, secretly commissioned an
animated film adaptation of Animal Farm in the 1950s with small changes
to the original story to suit its own needs.

The United States
and Iraq both employed propaganda during the Iraq War. The United States
established campaigns towards the American people on the justifications
of the war while using similar tactics to bring down Saddam Hussein’s
government in Iraq.

The extent to which the US government was
guilty of propaganda aimed at its own people is a matter of discussion.
The book Selling Intervention & War by Jon Western argued that
president Bush was “selling the war” to the public.

George W. Bush gave a talk at the Athena Performing Arts Center at
Greece Athena Middle and High School Tuesday, May 24, 2005 in Rochester,
NY. About half way through the event Bush said, “See in my line of work
you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the
truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda.”

People had
their initial reactions to the War on Terror, but with more biased and
persuading information, Iraq as a whole has been negatively targeted.
America’s goal was to remove Saddam Hussein’s power in Iraq with
allegations of possible weapons of mass destruction related to Osama Bin
Laden. Video and picture coverage in the news has shown shocking and
disturbing images of torture and other evils being done under the Iraqi

What the US’s ‘Banned Books Week’ Is Missing

By on September 25, 2013 • ( 0 )

I, like most of you, was appalled and slightly titillated when the Randolph County Board of Education removed Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man not just from its 11th grade recommended reading list, but also from its school libraries, with one board member claiming not to have seen any “literary value” in the book:bannedThis is important not just for the ostensible battle (over the book’s cuss words and “sexual content” vs. its “literary value”), but because Ralph Ellison’s voice, and his beautiful writing about visibility, is important for US teens to hear and read. And because of what this book’s exclusion means. And because of Jonathan Ferrell. And a hundred other becauses.

But the focus of the US’s BBW is — broadly — not about what Ellison’s exclusion from a school curriculum means. Generally, the battlegrounds exposed by BBW are whether teen readers should be exposed to sex, drugs, and suicide (in literature) or whether they should be “protected” from knowing about these scourges. When challenges to the curricular inclusion of Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian are discussed, commenters generally focus on Alexie’s one-off mention of masturbation.

This past summer, I gave Alexie’s book to my then-nine-year-old to read. He didn’t notice the “sexual” content, which sailed right over his head, but he did understand the discussion of racism and bullying. I didn’t give him the book because I want my now-10-year-old to know about sex (uh, yikes!) but because I want him to read fun, beautifully crafted literature that takes him into many places beyond White America. (Meanwhile, I see that this “underpants” book has been removed from some school curricula. Yawn.)

Completely “banning” a book (once it exists) is fairly difficult in contemporary times, at least in places where access to the internet is widespread and where communities are relatively affluent. A book might be officially banned in Saudi, or kept out of the Kuwait book fair, but that doesn’t mean a clever reader can’t find a way to get a copy. Magdy al-Shafee’s Metro has been illegally reprinted in Egypt, and is sold in at least one bookstore. Egyptian authors can be bullied or even arrested, but they also have many venues for their work. While Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man might be kept out of Randolph County public schools — or maybe the board will reverse their decision today — a teenager with a library card can still pick up a copy at the local public library.

Of course, all these restrictions still matter. In some cases, where restrictions and red lines are suffocating to creators, they matter a great deal.

But access to art is always restricted in some way or another: A limited number of texts can be in a school curriculum; a limited number of reviews can appear in mainstream publications; a limited number of books are translated each year from other languages. (In the Anglophone case, an excessively limited number of books.)

How many translations are there in school curricula? How many US students have read Zeina Abirached’s beautiful graphic novel A Game for Swallows, trans.  Edward Gauvin? (Abolutely clean! No sex or cussing! Oh, but there’s a good bit of smoking….) Or how many Canadian curricula include Fatima Sharafeddine’s self-translated YA novel Faten / The Servant? What about Ghada Abdel Aal’s I Want to Get Married, trans. Nora Eltahawy, as a jumping-off point to discuss the maqama tradition, the translatability of humor, and notions of gender?

Of course these books haven’t been “banned” from anyone’s curriculum — or, at least, not to my knowledge — and the fights over what’s “appropriate” is an important topic. But so are the quieter battles over what is included, and isn’t.


Guardian’s Alan Rusbridger on the Inside Story of Snowden NSA Leaks

State Department Is Keeping Pakistani Drone Victim’s Lawyer Out of the Country So Survivors Won’t Testify in Front of Members Of Congress (with Video and Petition)

The State Dept. prevented the lawyer challenging U.S.-led drone attacks from appearing before Congress.
September 24, 2013  |
Shahzad Akbar, the lawyer challenging US-led drone warfare in Pakistan, has been blocked by the U.S. Department of State from appearing before a Congressional ad hoc hearing with his clients who have survived drone strikes in their town. Rafiq ur Rehman – a teacher in a primary school in North Waziristan – lost his mother in the same October 2012 drone attack that hospitalized his children Nabila and Zubair.
It is necessary for Mr. Akbar  to accompany  his client Mr. Rehman and his two children,  in order for them to come to D.C. Such testimony would be the first time that drone victims from Pakistan have come to Capitol Hill to present the on-the-ground reality of America’s drone policy.

Congressman Alan Grayson (FL-09) has requested that the State Department give Shahzad Akbar a visa to bring his clients to testify. He explained: “Congress would like to conduct an ad hoc hearing on drones, and it is very important for us to hear from victims of drone strikes. Rafiq ur Rehman, a school teacher in Pakistan, lost his 67-year old mother in a drone strike, and two of his children also suffered drone-strike-related injuries. The State Department has granted the visas of Rafiq and his children to  travel to the U.S. and share their stories with Congress. However, it has not yet issued a visa for the family’s lawyer and translator, Shahzad Akbar. Without Mr. Akbar, Rafiq and his children will not be able to travel to the U.S.. I encourage the State Department to approve Mr. Akbar’s visa immediately.”

Robert Greenwald, who is the director of the forthcoming documentary  Unmanned  met and interviewed  Mr. Akbar and Mr. Rehman in Pakistan and shared their stories with Congressman Grayson.

Greenwald recounts:  “While filming  Unmanned in Pakistan, I saw first-hand the critical role Mr. Akbar is playing in reaching, protecting, and encouraging those, like Rafiq and his family, affected by tragic drone attacks to use the legal system – not violence. This man should be welcomed and celebrated, not silenced.”

“I also met and interviewed Rafiq and his family and know that if Mr. Akbar were allowed into America by the State Department, Congress and the American people would be as moved as I was about the plight of these survivors in a covert war.”

Greenwald’s film,   Unmanned: America’s Drone War investigates the impact that U.S. drone strikes have across the globe—the violation of international law, the loss of life, the far-reaching implications for the communities that live under drones, and blowback the United States faces.

For the film,  Greenwald traveled to Pakistan in the fall of 2012 and interviewed more than 35 victims, witnesses, psychiatrists, and Pakistani leaders. The film will include  exclusive footage  from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan, Jirgas, and  interviews with many drone policy experts.

As for Mr. Akbar – who is a  legal fellow at Reprieve, an international  justice organization  —  he explained  that before his work with drone victims, he freely traveled to the US:

“Before I began representing civilian victims in 2010, I used to travel regularly to the U.S. My visa would be processed in 3 working days. Then, in 2011, I applied for a visa to talk at a conference about my work with drone strike victims. Suddenly, I was told my visa required additional processing which took 14 months. This time, the denial is to stop me from talking to American lawmakers who have invited me to speak about what I have witnessed. I hope to tell them about the impact of drone strikes  and also to shed light on the fact that policies like drone strikes are actually a challenge to America’s national security.

Akbar represents  156 civilian drone strike victims and families, families he says   who have lost children, parents, and siblings, are now trying through legal means to achieve justice.

Watch a one-minute clip of Rafiq ur Rehman interviewed in the forthcoming documentary Unmanned.  Sign the petition urging the State Department to give a visa to Mr Akbar.


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