News, notes, and observations from the James River Valley in northern South Dakota with special attention to reviewing the performance of the media--old and new. E-Mail to

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

This is what kills democracy

Since U.S. forces killed Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, commander of Iran’s elite security and intelligence forces, there has been much discussion about the way the assassination was carried out and what the result will be.  But I have not heard one word in the media or in conversations "defending" Iran.  So, when I encountered this picture on the social media, I wondered who had heard someone actually defending Iran.  That country has been a troublesome, often deadly, perpetrator of international misdeeds since 1979, when it took members of the U.S. embassy staff in Tehran captive.  Since then, I have heard accounts of why and how Iran became an international malefactor, but I have never heard anyone outside of Iran speak in its defense.  I have heard many people question the the rationale and the circumstances of the extermination of Gen. Suleimani, but I haven't heard anyone defend him.  I wondered who the creators of that poster had been listening to.

I didn't wonder long.  A moment's reflection makes obvious that the poster's creator was not listening to any intelligent being.  The author was listening to his/her own ignorant and misinformed mind.  And that mind is one of those paranoid types that projects its own malice onto fictions it makes up about some people, somewhere in America defending Iran.  There are people who know about Iranians who analyze the direction Iran has chosen, but they are not defending the country.  They, in fact, are critics of the country. There are a few who feel the people of Iran were disrespected by the assassination.  That does not mean they are defending Iran.

That poster has a more ominous aspect.  I was not able to trace the origins of that poster, but it is typical of the type of propaganda that Russian cyber operatives like to plant.  It appeals to that type of person who harbors paranoid malice against people who do not share their political beliefs.  And that type of person is the typical Trump supporter, who gets enraged at the idea that someone would defend Iran, even though the defenders may not exist.  The poster is intended to inflame the Trump wing and feed their hatred of the liberals who oppose Trump.  In their minds, anyone who  criticizes  Trump's assassination of Gen. Suleimani must be defending Iran.  The poster gives people an excuse to vent their hatred for liberal Americans under the cloak of patriotism.  Rep. Doug Collins illustrated the effects of such baiting  with malicious and stupidly false accusations against Democrats.  He was praised for his lying defamations by the White House staff.

And when liberals see that poster, they assume its author and its adherents are mindless, uninformed bigots bereft of any intellectual capacity.  Thus, the divide between Americans widens and becomes a toxic morass.  

People, such as me, who served in American armed forces after World War II in foreign lands were trained to be alert to such propaganda.  Some of us were given special training to recognize and understand it in order to explain it to the troops so that it could be effectively dealt with.  Its primary purpose is to create anger and hatred in those susceptible to such effects.  Their ire can then be directed to specific people as the targets of hatred. 

We live in a time of hatred.  In his novel Extreme Prey, John Sandford notes the characteristic of our time:
The civil rights and feminist movements had been about gender equality and freedom; and the anti-war movement about the blind stupidity among certain parts of the political class that wound up killing sixty thousand Americans, mostly young draftees, and wounding another hundred and fifty thousand, to say nothing of a million or more Vietnamese.   The leaders of all those protest movements had been optimists, trying to pull people together.

Now the echoes of those movements seemed mostly about hate--about hating your opponents, on either side of any of the questions.
 It is expressions of hatred such as the poster above that generate hatred.  Their purpose is to create suspicion and animosity among the people and divide them into enemy camps.  Once the people are divided, aspiring dictators can step into control the nation.  It is people possessed of depravity and malice, such as Donald Trump, who try to tell is where to direct the hatred.  Unfortunately, there are many who willingly submit to that direction.  That's why Russian propagandists plant that type of disinformation.  It gets people hating each other, venting political malice, and weakening the nation.  And that weakness gives nations like Russia more power and influence in the world.  

America has fallen into the status of a flawed democracy.  That is not because of the existence of the poster.  It's because of the mindless, uninformed Americans who choose to believe and post it on the social media.  They are precisely the ones killing the America they think they are so proud of.


larry kurtz said...
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Porter Lansing said...
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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States