PROPAGANDA

Cultural critic Neil Postman in his book “Crazy Talk, Stupid Talk,” suggests the word “propaganda” be used “to refer not to the goodness or badness of causes but exclusively to a use of language designed to evoke a particular kind of response. We might say, for example, that propaganda is language that invites us to respond emotionally, emphatically, more or less immediately, and in an either-or manner. It is distinct from language which stimulates curiosity, reveals its assumptions, causes us to ask questions, invites us to seek further information and to search for error.”  This last sentence is key.  Each election season our televisions and newspapers and magazines are replete with promotional material telling us who to vote for and, perhaps more importantly, who not to vote for.  This is propaganda.  It is made to evoke a reaction in us and not to encourage critical thinking.  Its purpose is not to spark curiosity, or to invite us to ask questions and further investigate the object and or subject of the promotional piece (AD), but rather to arouse emotion.  Forget rationality.  Pure and simple.

It is up to us to do our own homework.  We must be honest enough to look openly at all sides of an issue, and follow the evidence wherever it leads.  It is difficult, but if we really care about people we will leave ideology at home when we head out to the voting booth.

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