This article from our local rag, “the Hutt News” came my way yesterday and I have decided to deconstruct it because it represents a particularly pernicious form of propaganda aimed at parents.
I do not think the lady who wrote this is a conscious
propagandist but has fallen prey to the fear and propaganda
inherent in the official version that is being peddled by the
government and their media scribes.
Deconstructing a newspaper article: “Conspiracy theories are scaring the kids”
As soon as Jacinda Adern announced a Level 3 lockdown of Auckland, I knew which way this was going and this would be nothing like the last time.
And then I found this from a Facebook “friend”:
Now here is the article from the Hutt News in full, together with my annotations..
Q: My father has worked in the same garage for 30 years. He’s always listened to the radio as he worked and got his news from the papers or the radio, until this new guy started about three years ago and signed Dad up to Facebook. Dad got hooked super quickly, like a drug and though it was annoying it seemed harmless.
This year, he’s become more political, angry and a bit withdrawn and my mum is getting freaked out. He’s totally obsessed with this latest outbreak of COVID-19, convinced it’s the work of the government, that they planned the virus. I’ve tried to talk to dad about conspiracy theories but mostly, we just argue. Lately, he’s been getting in my children’s ear, scaring them with what he calls “wake- up” events and it frightens them about drones watching them.
I don’t want him giving my kids his BS And I’m thinking he can’t see them for a while.
Conspiracy theories, thosebaseless opinions that threaten our democracy and well-being,are certainly alive and well at the moment. I too, know people who are disappearing into conspiracy tunnels anddragging gullible peoplewith them. These theorists are wasting valuable Time, energy and resources because will only beat, or manage, the virus if we work together andobey instructions.
“Baseless opinions that threaten our democracy”. That gets dangerously close to the Soviet propaganda (“anti-sovietism”) that I am quite familiar with – or to nazi-era propaganda. Both of these used labels are peppered with liberal use of epithets that are signalling that these people are “dangerous”.
How about the novel idea that it might be the government, and not a humble man working in a garage that is undermining democracy?
I could say a whole lot about the term “conspiracy theory”. If you take the term it is quite neutral (conspiracy + theory – is anyone going to argue that conspiracies don’t exist and that theories are “wrong” if they come from the “wrong” source and say the “wrong thing”
Of course, “conspiracy theory” is a wide spectrum that ranges from real analysis with real evidence to (indeed) baseless theories in which one assumption becomes the basis for the next assumption.
That is quite apart from what I take to be a fact that the CIA either invented the term or created the negative connotations.
But of course, if you take Google and their “fact checkers” this itself is a “conspiracy theory“. Look on a search engine (even DuckDuckGo) and you will find that the articles explaining this have disappeared and only the “fact-checking” remains
Your father‘smental healthis a big concern for you and your mother, especially as you say he’s become more agitated politically and more withdrawn. People who feed on conspiracy theories tend to be quite anxious anyway: your father may have been living with fear and anxiety simmering away for a long time. It is as if the current situation is as so big and scary, so completely out of his control that he is finding daft ideas to cling to to make sense of what’s happening.
Again, it revolves around “mental health”. I can say that neither me nor the people who I know are at all anxious people, nor are we “living with fear and anxiety simmering away for a long time”
There’s always a level of scaremongering around election time as people scrabble to get their favourite party into government. Politicians may get ugly, butsanepeople know, and with complete certainty, that the virus has not been planted for political gain or otherwise. We also know that conspiracy theorists find each other on social media and their newsfeed quickly becomes clogged with vitriol. These people only want to vent with people whohave similar illogical, unfounded ideas, so the cycle is perpetuated.
Those perjorative labels again!
Notice how EVERYTHING that comes from the media and is parroted by others is peppered by discriptors like “far-Right”, “false”, “baseless”, “debunked” and here all “sane” people know the truth with certainty.
If the situation involved a teenager the best advice would be to get him off Facebook and get him to talk to someone. The same advice applies to your father, but it is a lot harder to action such a plan when you’re his son.Is there anyway you can get him to see his GP?Can you work with your mother here? Is there anyone who would listen to apart from people feeling his ideas.
This connecting dissident views is particularly toxic. Hardly anyone will be old enough to remember how in the 1970’s leading Soviet dissidents were put in psychiatric hospitals because questioning the Soviet regime was “insane”, so ipso facto, the proponents of “wrong thought” were as well.
With changes in technology all it takes is a visit to the doctor’s office and a prescription of prozac or some other mental straightjacket.
I cannot see the distinction. This author is saying (not even implying) that the man has a “mental health” problem because he holds to ‘daft’ ideas.
As for your children, I always believe children understand far more than we give them credit for.
Well, yes, children are robust (they have to be), but they absorb much of what we adults leave unsaid – the “shadow” side of our personality and other suppressed emotions. I suspect this child’s reported fear comes largely from this rather than from anything the grandfather says.
I’d talk to them in an age-appropriate way about your concerns.There are no drones spying on them, and this imagine fear is whysocial media is so dangerous.
The author, of course, will be unaware of drones in the UK warning a person on a solitary walk with his dog to “get indoors” or of the robot in Singapore simply because she reads the Dominion Post and watches the TV1 news on the telly.
But, not 24 hours after reading this I came across this:
Of course repeating something that is provably TRUE but which goes against an official narrative is daft or insane!
If you’re able to involve your children with your father’s everyday life then I think it would be a good idea. Laugh at the theories without laughing at your father and in the short-term, get the kids to help distract him with his from his phone.
Yes, of course scoffing is the best solution. Forget checking if even a fraction of what this man might be saying is true. That would be a step too far and involve way too much effort!
Marie- Anne Scott
The Hutt News, 18 August, 2020
I think the above article shows very clearly the nature of propaganda, whether what comes out from government and repeated by media scribes (to the extent the differences between media sources are so blurred that one could not distinguish between them) or parroted by people who have imbibed the propaganda.
Nothing that I see coming out from the government has a skerrick of proof and are mostly top-down pronouncements that we are expected to believe and absorb uncritically.
A lot of what we hear and read is people talking out of the top of their heads and peppering it with a few perjorative adjectives.
In New Zealand this propaganda dates, not from a pandemic that is likely to be around for quite some time (along with the lockdowns and restrictions) but from last year and the Christchurch mosque massacre. In fact this sort of falsehood goes back even further to the John Key era. Prior to that we just had the common-a-garden lies that poliicians tell us routinely.
The documentary, “Plandemic Indoctornation” which came out yesterday is not only an example of research that leaves 60 Minutes way behind but in my mind is an example of ANTI-PROPAGANDA
Interestingly, the writing of this article coincides with this report from James Corbett (not my usual first port of call) deconstructing the “fact checkers’ ” on vaccination and setting the record straight.