In the midst of the mayoral campaign and elections in Jackson, MS, I thought it fitting to discuss propaganda.
Propaganda is defined as “ideas or statements that are often false or exaggerated and that are spread in order to help a cause, a political leader, or a government.“
The definition doesn’t specify the medium for distribution, so propaganda could be a man standing on the corner yelling in support of some cause, or a television commercial publicizing a scheme. I guarantee that, if you’re reading this, you’ve served as an audience for propaganda on hundreds of occasions. What you may not be aware of though, is the impact that the different propaganda mediums and messages have on your personal life, your thoughts, and your emotions.
Jackson’s mayoral race and any other municipal political elections are usually replete with propaganda used to garner votes, but that’s small potatoes compared to big business marketing, war propaganda, and enemy propaganda. We stare down the barrel of attempts at brainwashing every single day. When America wants to go to war, we put the World Trade Center plane crashes on every news channel, then we imbue American citizens with fear of and hatred toward all people of Middle Eastern decent. Have you ever googled the names of companies that own major television news and radio stations? Business entities and other groups can now spread their messages or causes to more people, in less time, and with fewer resources because businesses and businessmen own media outlets.
Most marketing strategies are purposed for getting a name, image, or product in your ears and in front of your eyes, but propaganda is like the snake in the Garden of Eden. If you like burgers, and I want to sell you chicken, then I’ve got to get you you to believe that chicken is better than burgers; the propagandist wants you to like chicken even if you’re allergic to it. Harmless advertisements show you a cliff. Propaganda shows you a cliff, then a utopian society at the bottom of the cliff, and a says “YOU SHOULD BE DOWN HERE” every day for six months and persuades you into wanting to jump off that cliff. Then the propagandist sells your home, your car, and everything else that you had before you leap to your death.
So, when I watch the news and I see “all of the crime that is happening in Jackson” or when I see “all of the problems that Jackson has,” I smile. When I hear politicians regurgitate the problems that the citizens believe we have instead of proposing plausible solutions or spouting cold, hard facts, I smile. I smile knowing that a lot of the news is propaganda. I smile, knowing that I have access to demographics and information that people don’t want me to have. Jacksonians are sitting on a diamond mine, but we don’t know how to obtain ownership of the resources beneath our feet. Propaganda encourages us to detest Mississippi and lulls us into viewing the capital city as a nightmare rather than a dream.
Don’t believe the hype! Jackson needs small businesses, not three more Walmarts, six Walgreens, and eight Ruby Tuesday’s. We need Mom-and-Pop stores, not big bucks from businesses that aren’t willing to invest in the community. We need the citizens of this city to truly make a difference on a daily basis. Citizens should police themselves, not rely solely on a police force. Don’t let propaganda tell you what you need and what you simply can’t live without. You know a road needs repair when you hit a pothole, but don’t let anyone tell you that a pothole is cause to believe that the entire city is doomed. Live your life without having your opinions and thoughts manipulated by dollar amounts. The truth is at your fingertips if you dig pass the manure. But “you don’t have to take my word for it” (*in my Reading Rainbow, LeVar Burton voice.*)