Thursday, July 14, 2011

An Intimate Look At Stanley Ann Dunham

Janny Scott, of the New York Times, has researched and written a wonderful article, Obama's Young Mother Abroad, about President Obama's mother, Stanley Ann Dunham. After reading his book, "Dreams of My Father," I was interested in learning more about Barack's mother. I was not disappointed. To read the complete article, go here.

"The president’s mother has served as any of a number of useful oversimplifications. In the capsule version of Obama’s life story, she is the white mother from Kansas coupled alliteratively to the black father from Kenya. She is corn-fed, white-bread, whatever Kenya is not. In “Dreams From My Father,” the memoir that helped power Obama’s political ascent, she is the shy, small-town girl who falls head over heels for the brilliant, charismatic African who steals the show. In the next chapter, she is the na├»ve idealist, the innocent abroad. In Obama’s presidential campaign, she was the struggling single mother, the food-stamp recipient, the victim of a health care system gone awry, pleading with her insurance company for cover­age as her life slipped away. And in the fevered imaginings of supermarket tabloids and the Internet, she is the atheist, the Marx­ist, the flower child, the mother who abandoned her son or duped the newspapers of Hawaii into printing a birth announcement for her Kenyan-born baby, on the off chance that he might want to be president someday....

To describe Dunham as a white woman from Kansas turns out to be about as illuminating as describing her son as a politician who likes golf. Intentionally or not, the label obscures an extraordinary story — of a girl with a boy’s name who grew up in the years before the women’s movement, the pill and the antiwar movement; who married an African at a time when nearly two dozen states still had laws against interracial marriage; who, at 24, moved to Jakarta with her son in the waning days of an anticommunist bloodbath in which hundreds of thousands of Indonesians were slaughtered; who lived more than half her adult life in a place barely known to most Americans, in the country with the largest Muslim population in the world; who spent years working in villages where a lone Western woman was a rarity; who immersed herself in the study of blacksmithing, a craft long practiced exclusively by men; who, as a working and mostly single mother, brought up two biracial children; who believed her son in particular had the potential to be great; who raised him to be, as he has put it jokingly, a combination of Albert Einstein, Mahatma Gandhi and Harry Belafonte; and then died at 52, never knowing who or what he would become."

To read the complete article, go here.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Brush Up On Your Propaganda Techniques...Fox Style

I used to teach journalism and mass media back in the late 70s when I lived on the island of Guam. I taught from the daily newspaper most of the year after Typhoon Pamela destroyed all the textbooks and most of the infrastructure on that tropical speck in the Pacific Ocean.

I was on my own in the classroom back then. I had no lesson plans or direction from anybody in the school. I basically checked out the subjects I was to teach and then I read and prepared on my own. In other words, I taught myself about stuff and then I'd share it with the kids.

And so it was with journalism and publishing. I learned it by doing it. I volunteered (or maybe I was volunteered) to be the advisor for the school newspaper and yearbook. That first year I learned more from the kids than they did from me, I'm sure.

What I'm getting to is that I am pretty critical about propaganda techniques and our current 24-hour news cycle/entertainment, brain-numbing gab fest. Truth seems to be optional these days. It drives me crazy. Anyway...

That's why this article from TRUTHOUT resonates with me. And let me just say that I don't approve of any news organization that deceives the public by using these techniques. They are used only to control those who are not aware how they work. Fox News is just so blatent about it that it's too easy not to pick on them.

Maybe someone will read this article and learn something. I can only hope.

14 Propaganda Techniques Fox "News" Uses to Brainwash Americans

Saturday 2 July 2011
by: Dr. Cynthia Boaz, Truthout
News Analysis

"There is nothing more sacred to the maintenance of democracy than a free press. Access to comprehensive, accurate and quality information is essential to the manifestation of Socratic citizenship - the society characterized by a civically engaged, well-informed and socially invested populace. Thus, to the degree that access to quality information is willfully or unintentionally obstructed, democracy itself is degraded.

It is ironic that in the era of 24-hour cable news networks and "reality" programming, the news-to-fluff ratio and overall veracity of information has declined precipitously. Take the fact Americans now spend on average about 50 hours a week using various forms of media, while at the same time cultural literacy levels hover just above the gutter. Not only does mainstream media now tolerate gross misrepresentations of fact and history by public figures (highlighted most recently by Sarah Palin's ludicrous depiction of Paul Revere's ride), but many media actually legitimize these displays. Pause for a moment and ask yourself what it means that the world's largest, most profitable and most popular news channel passes off as fact every whim, impulse and outrageously incompetent analysis of its so-called reporters. How did we get here? Take the enormous amount of misinformation that is taken for truth by Fox audiences: the belief that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and that he was in on 9/11, the belief that climate change isn't real and/or man-made, the belief that Barack Obama is Muslim and wasn't born in the United States, the insistence that all Arabs are Muslim and all Muslims are terrorists, the inexplicable perceptions that immigrants are both too lazy to work and are about to steal your job. All of these claims are demonstrably false, yet Fox News viewers will maintain their veracity with incredible zeal. Why? Is it simply that we have lost our respect for knowledge?

My curiosity about this question compelled me to sit down and document the most oft-used methods by which willful ignorance has been turned into dogma by Fox News and other propagandists disguised as media. The techniques I identify here also help to explain the simultaneously powerful identification the Fox media audience has with the network, as well as their ardent, reflexive defenses of it."

Read more here.