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Using Propaganda To Influence Opinions

I bet you thought this would be about “Kinetic Military Action”?Not quite, but this is something for conservatives to be aware of all the same.

First, I saw the Newsweek survey quiz where 70% of those surveyed didn’t know that the Constitution is the highest form of law in our nation.I started thinking about the low level of emphasis on the subject of basic civics that must currently exist in our public school system for this horrible result to be true.

I started doing some research to try to find out what kinds of civics program exist, particularly in my own state of North Carolina.I came across this 8th grade education plan from the North Carolina Civic Education Consortium that teachers can use to teach about propaganda.The Consortium website has a database link that allows individuals to see education plans for grades 1-12.This specific education plan defines various propaganda techniques and how they can be used.Part of the student activity for this education plan is for the student to develop their own propaganda poster.(The plan includes very interesting propaganda posters that were used during World War II for those who are interested.)

Within the context of this education plan, the word propaganda is defined as “a type of message aimed at influencing opinions and/or behavior of people”.In the general public, the word “propaganda” has negative connotations.Within the context of this education plan, those connotations have been neutralized.Descriptions are provided of various propaganda techniques, such as these:

“Euphemisms: The propagandist attempts to pacify the audience in order to make an unpleasant reality more palatable. This is accomplished by using words that are bland and euphemistic. An example is during war time, since war is particularlyunpleasant, military discourse is full of euphemisms. In the 1940’s, America changed the name of the War Department to the Department of Defense.”

“Glittering generalities: A glittering generality device seeks to make us approve and accept without examining the evidence; Glittering generalities include phrases such as “We believe in”, “fight for”, and “live by virtue”. They also include words about which we have deep-set ideas, such as civilization, Christianity, good, proper, right, democracy, patriotism, motherhood, fatherhood, science, medicine, health, and love.”

The descriptions are accurate, but something about the manner in which information was being presented within the context of this education plan didn’t sit right with me, as a conservative.Given that this Consortium is being sponsored by the School of Government at the University of North Carolina, I checked out this organization’s website and found the following announcement:

CIVIC EDUCATION CONSORTIUM FEATURED IN NATIONAL REVIEW

The NC Civic Education Consortium and its director, Kelley O’Brien, are featured in “A New Civic Mission of Schools,” a report from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. The report will be presented at the Civic Innovators Forum and at Educating for Democracy in a Digital Age, a March 29 conference in Washington featuring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

The National Review mentioned in the announcement is actually the Carnegie National Review.The report identified in the announcement entitled “A New Civic Mission of Schools” describes a central vision of goals and objectives that is captured in what the report terms “Six Promising Approaches to Civics Education”:

1. Provide instruction in government, history, law and democracy.

2. Incorporate into the classroom discussion of current local, national and international issues and events, particularly those that young people view as important to their lives.

3. Design and implement programs that provide students with the opportunity to apply what they learn through performing community service that is linked to the formal curriculum and classroom instruction.

4. Offer extracurricular activities that provide opportunities for young people to get involved in their schools or communities.

5. Encourage student participation in school governance.

6. Encourage student participation in simulations of democratic processes and procedures

 

The report, “A New Civic Mission of Schools”, isn’t actually included in this edition of the Carnegie National Review.I wondered whether it could be found online and discovered the Campaign For The Civic Mission of Schools website, which explains more about how the consortium is planning to accomplish and achieve its goals.

 

“The Campaign for the Civic Mission Schools was created to expand and improve civic learning in our schools, grades K-12. The Campaign works with its 40 coalition partners, the Campaign’s Steering Committee, to bring about changes in state, local, and national policy that promote civic learning and implement the recommendations in theCivic Mission of Schools report, published in 2003 by Carnegie Corporation of New York and CIRCLE (Center for Information and Research on civic Learning and Engagement at the University of Maryland). The report reflects a broad consensus among scholars and practitioners that most young Americans have a poor understanding of representative democracy and their role in it and that the schools need to play a major role.”

“The Campaign is hosted by theNational Council for the Social Studies.  Funding for the Campaign comes from Carnegie Corporation of New York and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Annenberg Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Ford Foundation.”

 

I actually agree that there needs to be a greater emphasis on civics education in our schools.I’d love to give the individuals involved in this the benefit of the doubt, but as a conservative, I have some major concerns about the plan that is being set forth by this campaign.

 

The devil is in the details, as the saying goes, and here are some of the details:

1.Organizations such as PBS, CNN, and the New York Times have been used as reference sources in establishing education plans for teachers.(Yeah, there’s a heavy bias hidden under the surface of these education plans)

2.Students are encouraged to become more proactive in civic activities, but the emphasis is being placed on civic rights (such as engaging in human rights activities) rather than civic responsibilities (such as fiscal, legal, moral, ethical, etc.)

3.At a national level, the emphasis is being placed on encouraging young people to think of themselves in the context of world citizens and to place higher priority on this level of citizenship rather than national citizenship.(Okay, so I don’t want to get into a conspiracy theory on this, but doesn’t this sound a bit like setting even more groundwork for a one-world government?)

4.Notice that the glittering generalities category above does not mention humanitarianism?(Heaven forbid that anyone should tell the youth of this nation the hard cold truth that there are those who will be more than happy to use humanitarianism as bait in a propaganda technique, especially if it fits in with their plans for redistributing the wealth.)

 

Above and beyond what I’ve mentioned, there is this…

For those of us who genuinely believe in the sanctity of life, will saying that we live by this virtue be presented as propaganda to our children?

 

For those of us who have traditional values that include genuinely respecting the sanctity of the family, will saying that we believe a family should consist of a father and mother be presented as propaganda to our children?

 

For those of us as Americans who genuinely believe in the legacy left to us by our Founding Fathers through the Constitution of the United States, will saying that we believe this is worth fighting for be presented as propaganda to our children?

Just something to keep in mind, that’s all.

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