Comparative propaganda

The Obama administration needs to convey a message that things are under control. So they commemorated the first anniversary of the Recovery Act with this:

It’s a chart showing the number of jobs lost each month from December 2007 to January 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Continue reading “Comparative propaganda”

Hitler, Stalin, and Rachel Carson?

When I wrote about the anti-environmentalist textbook Facts, Not Fear, I mentioned being astonished by the authors’ attack on the DDT ban, even though the ban rescued the bald eagle and other American raptors from extinction. I should have mentioned that the ban came about in response to Rachel Carson’s 1962 book Silent Spring, the […]

Facts, Not Fear: A study in fact-based falsehood

factsnotfearI reviewed this intriguing textbook (Facts, Not Fear: Teaching Children about the Environment) recently for LibraryThing. As the book originates with our own Alabama Policy Institute (formerly the Alabama Family Alliance), I thought the review might be worth repeating here. There’s nothing about the Alabama organization in the acknowledgments, but I found a magazine article in which AFA president Gary Palmer claimed responsibility for this book.

This textbook (for homeschoolers) poses as an antidote to biased, alarmist teaching about the environment, but its own bias is flagrant. It is valuable as a model of propaganda technique in general, and of anti-regulatory rhetorical strategies in particular. Its method mostly consists of amassing anecdotes, omitting unfriendly evidence (while preaching about respect for “science”), and keeping strict silence about topics that cannot be easily spun. There’s not a peep about toxic or nuclear waste, for instance, or about human health problems stemming from pollution.

The tykes whose parents use this book are likely to come away thinking that “garbage” consists entirely of household waste, and that industrial plants are just bigger versions of their own households. It follows, then, that petrochemical plants are just as concerned with keeping things neat and tidy as Mommy and Daddy are. And the biggest threats to the environment? Government regulation and public ownership of land, of course. Continue reading “Facts, Not Fear: A study in fact-based falsehood”

The myth of Obama’s “apostasy”

Historical myths and simplifications about a monolithic “Islamic world” are a besetting problem in the U.S. media, and I think professional historians should be concerned — especially when a member of the profession is responsible for sowing confusion in the first place, as in this case. The story, in brief, is that the world’s Muslims […]