by M. Stewart
There has been a lot of talk here lately about the Tea Party and racism, and while I'm a little tired of that discussion, we got another glaring example this week of how American conservatives are able to exploit back-door racism through the deliberate and calculated use of "disinformation."
For former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, it was just the proverbial "slip of the tongue." Although Huckabee allegedly has dissociated himself from the absurd Tea Party-inspired "birther" movement, the potential GOP presidential candidate claimed this week that President Obama was raised in Kenya by his father and grandfather. According to Huckabee, this is a possible explanation of Obama's "liberal policies" and why the president might see the British as imperialists.
Once Huckabee's lie was revealed, he sent out a "spokesman" to correct his "error." Apparently, what Huckabee meant
to say was . . . well . . . let's see . . . what did he mean to say? Oh yeah, according to the spokesman, Huckabee just wants to "know more about where President Obama's liberal policies come from and what else the president plans to do to this country — as do most Americans."
The word "misinformation" is used to describe statements that are mistakes--that is, the person speaking doesn't realize that his information is incorrect. In such case, an apology and a correction usually gets a person off the hook. The term "disinformation" (from the Russian dezinformatsia
) is used to describe "false or inaccurate information that is spread deliberately with intentions of turning genuine information useless."
So unless we conclude that Huckabee is just plain stupid (which he isn't), we must assume that his "innocent" mistake was intentional, which makes it a classic example of "disinformation." The purpose, of course, is to associate the president with his "African roots." But why would a Republican candidate want to do that? Gee, I dunno.
Disinformation has become the mainstay of the contemporary American conservatism. For example, conservative ORL posters typically call me and others who disagree with their tactics "communists." As with the Huckabee situation, we can assume that they are merely ignorant people who don't know what a communist is, or
we can conclude that they are part of a deliberate disinformation campaign. The idea is that if you keep saying something over and over again, it becomes valid, especially to the ears of impressionable people.
And where did they learned this technique? The masters of disinformation were the Soviet Russians (real
communists), but Fox News has perfected the technique in the United States. If you watch Fox News, you know that its reporters and commentators constantly use the phrase "some people say" before they insert opinion. (Click on this clip from the documentary Outfoxed
for many examples.)
It's a clever way of spinning the news in a certain direction without actually having to attribute it to a source. After all, the word "some" isn't specific, is it? By alleging that "some people say" something, Fox is able to insert network opinion into the mix.
As well, Fox News has been very successful at blurring the lines between news and commentary to the point where media illiterates--a large segment of the network's audience--can't tell the difference. Still another tactic is to demonize all other news sources by branding them with the collective tag "mainstream media" and asserting that they are part of some liberal conspiracy.
Closer to home, a classic example of a disinformation practitioner is long-time ORL poster "Bob." If you are familiar with Bob's comments, you know that he constantly uses phrases like "commie-Dem" to describe anyone he disagrees with. As well, he repeatedly refers to President Obama as the "Kenyan-Marxist president." Just this week Bob referred to the president as a "marginally documented Kenyan-Marxist." In other words, he is a foreign-born, black African communist. Is there any evidence of this? Of course not, but the picture keeps getting painted nonetheless.
Whereas rational, informed people can easily see through the tactic, more impressionable readers cannot. Bob also is known for his use of what I'll call "pejorative spelling." For example, in order to show his contempt for educated people, he refers to education as "edumacation." Anyone associated with our universities is a "socialist." Anyone with a college degree is a "college edumacated elitist" who has been brainwashed by our "failed American university system." Political progressives he calls "libruls." If you are even slightly familiar with Bob's comments, you know that the list goes on.
The constant repetition of false information can be very effective. Ask any former Soviet propagandist. The idea is to obscure truth by simply creating a false proposition and repeating it over and over again. If your object is to plant doubt and suspicion in the minds of impressionable people, your chances of success are high as long as you keep it up day after day.
So if you want to exploit racism while insisting you are not a racist, all you have to do is "misspeak" like Mr. Huckabee did. Or you can become one of Rupert Murdoch's "some people" and go out and "say" things like "Kenyan-Marxist president" over and over--especially in environments like this one where you can remain anonymous. When others call you on it, all you have to do is deny it, disappear, or continue posting under another screen name.
By the way, did you hear that President Obama was born in Kenya and raised by his very black father and grandfather? Are you aware that he only attends a Christian church as a cover? Some say he's an Islamic sleeper agent programmed to go off when bin Laden pushes the button. Some say Obama took the oath of office with his right hand on the Koran. Some say that Obama is the Antichrist (see Bible and/or Nostradamus for "proof.").
Some say that under "Obama Care" the federal government will set up death camps for the elderly. (Wait a minute. We actually do know who said that.) Some say Obama is a fascist AND a communist (even though those terms refer to complete opposite ends of the political spectrum.) Some say that Obama's real goal is to turn America into a welfare state on the backs of "regular" taxpayers like you and me (you know, hard-working white people). Some say that Obama wants to erase the borders between Mexico and the United States. Some say ________________ (fill in the blank).
Let me be clear. I do not think that every
conservative or Tea Party sympathizer is a racist, though I am certain that many are. On the other hand, I do believe that the Tea Party and American conservatives routinely exploit the racist elements within the Republican Party and our society at large for political gain, and I believe it is important to point out how it is done.