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WEAPONS OF MASS 1,13i The Uses of Propaganda in Bush’s War on Iraq 2 WILL WAIT To OVERTHROW YOUR DECADENT REGIME UNTIL THE AMERI cAN5 ARE DEFEATED, iNFiDEL. GREAT. AND WON’T SEND You AND YouR FoLLoWERS To PARADISE QUITE YET. CUT!! GuY5, IF You CAN’T Do BETTER THAN THAr, THE AuDIENcE 15 NEVER GOING TO BELIEVE THIS 5CRIPT! FROM THE ToP! AND REMEMBERYOU’RE 5uPP0SED TO BE BUDDIES! Sheldon Ramon & John Stauber alma A authors of # U J, 42 Mend we’re seeing in the United States. In that regard it’s not that different from the days of the Roman Empire. The fact that Caesar’s face was stamped on every coin was an early propaganda device. Every time someone made a cash transaction they saw his picture. And in a world where they didn’t have newspapers and other things, that was a very powerful, symbolic statement of who was in charge and what was right and proper in the world. The fact that the United States has developed this huge propaganda arm is part and parcel of the fact that we have become this very powerful nation in the world. TO: Can you say that public relations is propaganda or is it trickier than that? SR: Well, everything’s trickierthe world’s a complicated place. But the people who founded the public relations industry in the early 20th century got their start working on war propaganda for the Wilson administration. Edward Bernays who is generally identified as the “father of public relations,” wrote books with titles like Crystallizing Public Opinion, Propaganda, and Engineering Consent. The term propaganda has been around since the Christian Crusades. It was coined and used by the Catholic Church to mean “propagation of the faith.” They saw it as a very good thing. Obviously the Muslims of the day had a very different attitude toward that propaganda than the Catholic Church did. But when the term was first coined it wasn’t seen as a bad thing, it was seen as doing Christ’s work. It wasn’t really until the 20th century that the term came to acquire negative connotations because of the uses of propaganda during the first World War and then subsequent uses of propaganda by the Nazis, by the Soviets, and so forth. The theorists in the early 20th century who were developing theories about propaganda referred to it as the “hypodermic model of communication,” in which your goal is to literally inject your ideas into people’s minds. It’s not surprising that we find examples of propaganda that go far back in time, because the history of humanity is largely a history of people living under rulers who order them around and oppress them. But the course of history over the past two centuries has seen great strides for democracy. One of the reasons that propaganda as an industry has become as vast as it has in the United States is precisely as a response to that. I think the passion for democracy is still as strong today as it ever was internationally, as well as in the United States. Just from my readings of the public relations industry trade press, I know that the people who are working in corporate PR find the degree of public expression of activism and other manifestations of democracy very troubling. They think it’s out of control. A big part of their work is figuring out how to manage activism. From the point of view of the activists who read my bookssome of them come away depressed: “Look at all these things that people are doing to try to manipulate us, we can never win, we can never win…” Well, if you read the PR trade press, they sound pretty frustrated too: “Look at all these activists who came together really quickly in Seattle using the Internet. They couldn’t continued on page 26 2/13/04 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 23