The Brainwashing of America
What is brainwashing? Margaret Singer defined it as “providing members with information about the cult and showing them how their own decision-making power had been taken away from them.”
Have you watched a friend or loved one go down the rabbit hole of right-wing delusion, paranoia and hatred? Likely, you have. So has this filmmaker:
As filmmaker, Jen Senko, tries to understand the transformation of her father from a non political, life-long Democrat to an angry, Right-Wing fanatic, she uncovers the forces behind the media that changed him completely: a plan by Roger Ailes under Nixon for a media takeover by the GOP, The Powell Memo urging business leaders to influence institutions of public opinion, especially the universities, the media and the courts, and under Reagan, the dismantling of the Fairness Doctrine.
As her journey continues, we discover that her father is part of a much broader demographic, and that the story is one that affects us all.
This documentary will shine a light on how it happened (and is still happening) and lead to questions about who owns the airwaves, what rights we have as listeners/watchers and what responsibility does our government have to keep the airwaves truly fair, accurate and accountable to the truth.
Here’s the trailer.
The right-wing propaganda machine is like a cult. The faithful take it as gospel. If you try to inject reality - or any differing opinions - you are discounted as being blind, stupid or, ultimately, a DemonRAT Libtard (or whatever witticism is currently en vogue).
Whether someone is a Democrat or Republican, the problem with this cultist outlook is the broken government we now see. Government has always depended upon collaboration and compromise. Differing opinions is what made the country stronger, laws better and a functioning society - a society for all Americans. (This doesn’t mean that segments of society weren’t left out in the cold, but the majority of Americans were considered when laws were enacted.) Now, compromise is considered capitulation and a winner-takes-all mentality; politics-above-country is the only thing that matters.
When you have a segment of elected officials…
- willing to partner with foreign leaders solely to work against an elected President of the United States as Republicans have done for Israel (while most Americans were against it) and against any deal to disarm Iran's nuclear desires,
- lionizing a foreign leader, as Republicans have done with Russia's Putin, while calling the American president weak,
- supporting militia members over the very government they represent,
- put religion over government,
- promote fear throughout the electorate,
- target single categories of society as bad as has been done to both Muslims and anyone considered liberal (see Glenn Beck, Michael Savage, et al) and Liberal became a dirty word,
- see entire segments as takers, leeches, bought and paid for voters,
- stoke fear of the government as evil and not to be trusted,
- stoke fear that the government will grab your guns because you need them to protect yourself from said government,
- deride every benefit to society as Socialist, Communist or Marxist (or all at the same time)
You wind up with an entire propaganda machine to support every statement, you’ve created an entire segment of society who is brainwashed into seeing government as the problem and those with differing opinions as traitors who should be exterminated.
This is especially prominent in small towns across America where industry that once supported those towns leave, creating limited opportunities for those towns that once thrived - and blaming it on liberal policies, Democrats, etc., instead of an ever-changing global environment of employers and workforce, with daily, no hourly, reinforcement of hate against the change that is inevitable, creating entire segments of society who are angry, fearful, and resentful. It’s not a stretch to see that turn to violence as we have many times.
There’s nothing wrong with being left or right. The problem comes in when you are militantly either…when you see the other as, well, Other. When you look at friends or family members as traitors to your own ideology. When you dehumanize based on your bastardization of politics…based on your own brainwashing.
But…what to do? Can these friends and family members be helped after 20 plus years of constantly reinforced negatively? Do these interventions work?
Rick Alan Ross, who has been involved in deprogramming since 1982 (and someone whose theories and methods are not without controversy), and offers interventions provides the following (briefly noted below, see the above link for more):
Identify family members to be involved with the intervention.
The basic role of each family member and friend can best be summarized as largely focused upon two primary objectives.
These objectives are:
Essentially anchor the cult involved individual. That is, to keep them from leaving, by helping to create an atmosphere of support premised upon historical trust and understanding. Simply put, the cult member will not stay involved in the intervention process for my sake, as I am a total stranger. But the cult member will stay out of respect for their family, friends and others concerned. This is vitally important because any intervention done with an adult is on a voluntary basis and therefore dependent upon their consent and ongoing cooperation. In the preparation process possible scenarios and/or potential situations are discussed. For example, the individual may become angry, get up and begin to leave. How should that be handled? Who would be most effective in persuading him or her not to leave and to stay?
The family and friends also are there to provide first-hand eyewitness testimony. That is, what have they seen and observed regarding the cult-involved person’s recent behavior, which has caused them concern? At various times during an intervention a cult member may engage in denial. Since I have not directly witnessed what has occurred, I rely upon the family and friends present to share their experience to counteract any effort to obscure or deny the historical facts surrounding the situation.
The intervention itself includes:
There are four basic blocks or areas of discussion essential for the completion of an effective and potentially successful intervention.
These blocks of discussion preferably can be discussed in the order that follows, but this sequence may be rearranged during the intervention, due to the interest and focus of the cult-involved individual.
The four blocks of discussion are:
1. What is the definition of a destructive cult?
2. How does the process of coercive persuasion or thought reform really work?
3. What is the history of the group and/or leader that has drawn concern?
4. What are the family’s concerns?
The biggest problem I see with any intervention is that the stimuli of continuing brainwashing remains. Fox News, right-wing hate radio, and elected officials who seem hell-bent on destroying our political system are not going away.
Worse yet, I think that many of our elected officials are, themselves, brainwashed and some (but by all means not all) of these elected officials are true believers themselves.