Saturday, May 26, 2007

Memorial Propaganda - Just Like Them

WaPo's Edward J. Cody writes today ["Drawing a Blank on a Party Hero"] of the "national campaign" in China over the once-obscure and now cancer-ridden "Comrade Fang Yonggang." It seems the Fang Yonggang campaign is only the latest propaganda initiative "launched recently by the Communist Party's Central Propaganda Department in Beijing."
The enduring use of study campaigns and role models, sometimes with the help of fictional embellishments, illustrates the party's abiding determination to mold public opinion in China, hiding inconvenient truths through censorship and creating useful truths through the promotion of popular legends.
And why would the Propaganda Department engage in such deceptions? Reporter Cody helpfully explains --
Since coming to power in 1949, the party has made this two-pronged control of information one of its principal weapons in retaining a monopoly on power.
Lest we feel too smug or scandalized over such inscrutable Oriental outrages, this week Michael Shapiro explores in Silicon Valley's a substantially identical phenomenon a bit closer to home -- The Ballad of Pat Tillman:
Norman Solomon, author of the book War Made Easy, agrees with the Tillman family that Pat was used to promote the wars. "This was a perfect storm of idolatry from the Pentagon standpoint: a football hero sacrificing himself for patriotic reasons—it was central casting as far as the Rumsfeld gang was concerned," he said. "The mythology was so wonderful that the facts were inconvenient and unnecessary."

What's astonishing is not just the lengths the Army went to create a fictional account, which included changing the testimony of soldiers who witnessed the friendly fire shooting and the destruction of evidence such as the burning of Tillman's blood–stained uniform. It's that this was not an isolated incident but rather part of a pattern of deception.

In recent months, several other families have pressed the military for details about their loved ones' deaths, uncovering similar fabrications. These revelations, coming to light after soldiers' relatives demanded details about their family members' final hours, may represent a fraction of the military's effort to conceal friendly fire or accidental deaths and injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan.

At the April 24 Congressional Oversight hearing, Lynch, portrayed in spring 2003 as the "little girl Rambo from the hills of West Virginia who went down fighting," testified that the story the military told about her was a blatant lie. Lynch never fired a shot when her caravan was ambushed. After being severely wounded, she was kept alive by Iraqi doctors and nurses, who donated their own blood to keep Lynch alive.

Most shocking: according to sworn testimony during the Oversight Committee's hearing, Lynch's "rescue" from the Iraqi hospital was delayed by a day so that the Army could bring in camera crews. After stating Lynch was being held by hostile forces, the military waited 24 hours to rescue her so they could make a propaganda film.

Suggesting the potentially broad scope of the military's deception: Tillman was just one of three soldiers with South Bay (San Jose and Silicon Valley) roots killed in Iraq or Afghanistan during a two–month period whose families were lied to about their deaths.
You don't suppose, do you, that the reason behind our government propaganda is anything like the reason for theirs? "Retaining a monopoly on power"?


Bryan said...

They don't know anything but marketing. They believe that everything can be solved by marketing rather than actually taking the time to make a decent "product".

This is government by CEO.

Anonymous said...

Today Surfside, Florida has elected officials who talk green but who are beholden and controlled by the overdevelopment crowd, the special interests. Just another place with skewed priorities and lies told to taxpayers and homeowners. It used to be different, when Surfside was an example of doing things RIGHT.

Surfside, Florida emerged as a leading community in serving the public interest rather than special interests. Courageous, honest, and productive leadership was the hallmark of the Town of Surfside from 1992 - 2004. During that time, Mayor Paul Novack and the then serving Town Commission unanimously enact budget corrections and fiscally responsible policies and every year for 12 years the town operated under balanced, stable and efficient budgets, with production of increased levels of town services, and numerous capital projects undertaken and completed that upgraded the parks, playgrounds, streets, drainage system, business district, Veterans Park, Town Hall, and much more, all with no debt, no bonds, and with the building of significant town surplus funds to serve the town's present and future. The town attracted a new Publix and many new restaurants and shops for the business district and made improvements and expansions to town parking facilities. Plans were made for a new town library and hi-tech information center to go on newly acquired property on the west side of Collins Avenue. The town was internationally recognized as a model community, and in 2003 Novack was honored as the state-wide "Community Steward of the Year" in Tallahassee.

Paul Novack received the Community Steward Award for his steadfast advocacy for effective growth management in Surfside. In 1992, Surfside residents overwhelmingly supported a referendum to prevent a twenty-story beachfront condominium. For more than a decade after then, Novack has served as mayor of this small Dade County community for the grand fee of one dollar per year. Throughout his tenure, Novack and the town's commissioners have consistently denied any requests for height and density variances, maintaining heights at twelve stories east of Collins Avenue, and five stories to the west. Nominators wrote that, thanks to Mayor Novack, "the town's zoning code has been consistently, fairly and effectively enforced." Besides that, Novack has maintained a balanced budget without raising property taxes, there is a one-minute emergency police response time, and garbage is picked up six days a week for a nominal fee. During the selection process, 1000 Friends was impressed with Mayor Novack's steadfast determination to uphold the planning and development standards needed to maintain Surfside's distinctive character and scale, noted Pattison. "With his dynamic leadership abilities, commitment to sound planning, and concern for the residents of Surfside, Mayor Novack exemplifies the qualities of a true community steward."

Mayor Novack was elected by the voters six times to serve as mayor, not one variance for height or density or setbacks or uses were ever approved during his tenure, and he retired from office in 2004 with official tributes from the Florida House of Representatives, the Governor of Florida, Members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, and an official entry into the United States Congressional Record, and honors and thanks from many others from throughout the world.