Can we recognize foreign propaganda?


We have met the enemy and he is us.–Pogo (Walt Kelly)

Can we recognize foreign propaganda? Often not, because the ideas are our own.

In the 1956 movie, Forbidden Planet, Dr. Edward Morbius has discovered and mastered powerful machinery that magnifies his thoughts. The catch is that his malign, unconscious thoughts are magnified as well has his benign, conscious thoughts threatening even his beloved daughter. (“Forbidden Planet” reminds one of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.”)

Sometimes we may learn of a source of propaganda, when uncovered by the FBI or censored by facebook. Most often, we will only recognize it by its content, if at all.

I have no doubt that Donald Trump dislikes courts and judges which rule against him–he has made that clear. Likewise, I have no doubt that foreign propagandist have seized on this idea and promoted it in an attempt to undermine respect for our courts and our laws.

Distaste for Planned Parenthood is nothing new. It may be rooted in our fear of impotency. Yet I have no doubt that recent attempts to demonize that organization are based on something more–a desire, likely of foreign origin, to divide us into warring camps.

The idea that Donald Trump and his associates are being unfairly persecuted by corrupt officials can also be traced to Trump’s own words. Yet again, this highly divisive idea is likely being promoted by foreign actors.

How can we recognize foreign propaganda? One can wonder, if something seems wrong or unlikely, can it be true? One might ask if the latest idea is our own idea. or was it planted in our mind by someone else?

About whungerford

* Contributor at where we discuss the politics, economics, and events of the New New York 23rd Congressional District (Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, (Eastern) Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben,Tioga, Tompkins, and Yates Counties) Please visit and comment on whatever strikes your fancy.
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11 Responses to Can we recognize foreign propaganda?

  1. josephurban says:

    Does it matter if it is foreign propaganda or domestic propaganda? In either case it is intentionally deceptive and misinformation. Lies are lies.

    I recall a few years ago when some in Congress were claiming that the auto workers made $75 an hour and that was why the bailouts were unfair and cars were so expensive (although wages account for only 10% of the cost of a car). This was repeated over and over, They based this information on a Heritage Foundation study that claimed the auto workers made 3 times the average worker. The direct quote from the “study” was: “The vast majority of UAW workers in Detroit today still earn $75 an hour.”

    Since this is a conservative organization many of the GOP in Congress took up the chant. These workers were getting an enormous take home pay!!!

    A fact check shows that the study included the costs of benefits,as well. To quote directly from Factcheck:

    “The problem is, that’s just not true. The automakers say that the average wage earned by its unionized workers is about $29 per hour. So how does that climb to more than $70? Add in benefits: life insurance, health care, pension and so on. But not just the benefits that the current workers actually receive – after all, it’s pretty rare for the value of a benefits package to add up to more than wages paid, even with a really, really good health plan in place. What’s causing the number to balloon is the cost of providing benefits to tens of thousands of retired auto workers and their surviving spouses.

    The automakers arrived at the $70+ figure by adding up all the costs associated with providing wages and benefits to current and retired workers and dividing the total by the number of hours worked by current employees.”

    But, the “overpaid” worker myth is what the conservatives WANTED to hear, so they repeated the propaganda. Similar to Mr Trump saying that Amazon is costing the tax payers money by using the postal service, when no tax dollars even go to run the post office.

    We see similar lies told about Planned Parenthood, Acorn and other groups trying to provide much needed services to poor people.

    How do we fight propaganda? It is pretty difficult. It demands that people use their critical thinking skills and are open to evidence which does not fit neatly into their preconceived prejudices.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. whungerford says:

    Does it matter if it is foreign propaganda or domestic propaganda? I’m not sure. Some foreign interference in elections is illegal, yet the Mercer family can spend all they like on Cambridge Analytica. I agree that we must use our critical thinking skills and remain alert for obviously fake news.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Rynstone says:

    Citing Planned Parenthood may not be a good example as they are teh largest abortion provider and promoter in the US. Many people view abortion as murder. We no have partial birth abortion.

    How many Kermit Gosnells are out there?

    Google the Grand Jury transcripts on Gosnell and you will know there is a special place in hell for him. Probably will be cell mates with Hitler, Mao, Lenin, Idi Amin and Stalin.


  4. whungerford says:

    Gary, Is your evident distaste for Planned Parenthood rooted in your fear of impotency?


  5. Rynstone says:

    Sorry Wungie,

    My disgust for Planned Parenthood is that those who push, advocate and perform abortions are a bunch of murderous bastards who prey on the most innocent and vulnerable.

    But hey if you can find it in yourself to joke about it well good for you. This is too serious of a crime against humanity for me to take lightly with even you.

    Margaet Sanger was a racist and wanted to reduce or eliminate the black population by abortion.

    Now the Left idolizes Margaret Sangor and her Eugenics as Planned Parenthood murders thousands of blacks every year. Who are the racists ?

    Some of Margaret Sangor’s quotes


  6. josephurban says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed giving my annual contribution to PP this year in the name of Mike Pence. PP sends a card to anyone who gets a donation sent in his name! I have long supported a family’s right to decide how many children they want to have.

    i find it thoroughly disgusting that anyone would want the government to decide how many children a family should have. Of course, Communist China under Mao set the example for that philosophy. The COMMUNISTS decided exactly how many kids a many and his wife could have. In the view of totalitarians BIG GOVERNMENT knows better than a family. Sad. very sad. The ultimate violation of human rights. I oppose that form of totalitarianism.

    The facts: 3% of PP services go for a family’s right to choose via abortion. And no federal tax dollars can be spent on abortion services. 97% of PP services go to womens’ (and men’s) health care preventative care. 20% of women have used PP services. PP provides screening for cancer, STD testing and treatment, as well as colon and prostate screening for men.
    So many services.

    Of course, you could argue that the government should be providing these services to our citizens, but since the government doesn’t so so, PP steps in and fills the void. Perhaps in the future we won’t need organizations like PP to serve the people, but today is not that day.

    Ironically, the attacks on family planning services by the authoritarian right wing has only lead to even greater contributions to help poor and middle class families. And that is good news!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. whungerford says:

    Here are other issues which fuel political strife. Is discord promoted by foreign actors? How would we know if it were?

    • Common Core
    • Social Security
    • Obamacare
    • FBI corrupt
    • Deep State
    • Charter Schools
    • Right to work laws
    • Illegal drugs
    • Immigration

    Does the fact that opinions usually correspond to party lines give a clue? Regarding the Common Core controversy, for example, people might well have different opinions. But it is surprising that opinions strongly reflect political affiliation. It is also noteworthy that partisan opinions on standardized tests flipped with the change in administrations.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. josephurban says:

    The big government “common core” nonsense is one of the great FAKE news stories of this decade.The lies that somehow CC is a big government takeover of schools is a common falsehood spread by some.

    Common core is simply a set of principles. It is not a curriculum. It is not mandated. Every school district may implement their own curriculum to try to meet the standards.

    The standards themselves are simply a codification of long practiced educational techniques and outcomes. Critical thinking. Analyzing evidence. Understanding scientific ideas. Etc.

    The reason for CC was to try to help the states that have below par systems develop a framework to bring their kids up to the level of other states.So that kids in every state have a chance to compete in the modern world. No plot. Just good educational practices.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. whungerford says:

    Joseph, the facts you cite have no bearing on the controversy. Some with an interest in disparaging public education seized on nascent public concern and fanned what should have been a minor matter into a major conflagration. It seems very likely to me that foreign actors may have been involved.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. whungerford says:

    We know for sure that domestic politicians jumped on the Common Core bandwagon. Tom Reed politicized the question by pointing the finger at Democrats and at Gov. Cuomo, and by encouraging parents to opt out of testing.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. josephurban says:

    There is so much INTENTIONAL misinformation about the Common Core standards and how they are implemented that it is no surprise people are angry or confused. So many falsehoods that one cannot speak to them all at once.
    Here is a good website that discusses the MYTHS and the REALITY of Common Core:


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