By Tony Casson
“By smooth and glowing words they deceive innocent people.”
Romans 16:18b NLT
“A word is not a crystal – transparent and unchanged; it is the skin of a living thought and may vary greatly in color and content according to the circumstances and the time in which it is used.” Oliver Wendell Holmes
If you ever thought that you made your own choices and exercised control over your own life, consider the following:
“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate the unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country…. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes are formed on ideas suggested largely by men we have never heard of.”
These disturbing words were published in a book written by a man who has been called “The Father Of Spin”. Edward Bernays wrote the above words in a book entitled “Propaganda”, which was published in 1928. Bernays’s methods, his philosophy and his theories helped him to become a leader in the art and business of public relations – or ‘spin’, as it is commonly referred to today. Other titles authored by Bernays speak loudly as to their content and INtent, and are still widely read today. They include: “The Business Of Propaganda”, “Crystallizing Public Opinion”, “The Engineering Of Consent”, and “Manipulating Public Opinion”.
Those titles are as disturbing as are some of his “achievements” in his field. Among them are the following few examples:
- In 1917, President Woodrow Wilson formed the “Counsel On Public Relations”. Bernays was a prominent member of this group whose responsibility it was to influence public opinion toward supporting American participation in World War I.
- In 1929, Bernays was hired by the American Tobacco Company to find a way to increase cigarette smoking among women. Women smoked, but were hesitant to do so publicly, so Bernays hired attractive models to march in a New York City parade. He had arranged for the press to be there to photograph them as they lit their ‘torches of freedom’, as they were called. (They were, of course, Lucky Strikes, an American Tobacco Company brand.) Encouraged, women around the country participated in ‘smoke outs’ to break the taboo.
- Bernays also manipulated the CIA, the American Government, and public opinion to win support to overthrow the democratically elected president of Guatemala, Jacobo Arblenz. Bernays had been hired by the United Fruit Company which had found itself unable to maintain its low cost of doing business there when Arblenz’s government took over. During the first half of the 1900’s, United Fruit Company wielded tremendous influence with the United States government and Bernays capitalized on it, painting Arblenz as a communist and securing his forcible removal from office by revolutionary forces led by the CIA. As an interesting side note, one of the CIA’s top operatives selected to orchestrate Arblenz’s removal was E. Howard Hunt, who went on to gain notoriety in Nixon’s Watergate debacle.
In 1933, a foreign news correspondent with the Hearst Corporation told Bernays that his book “Crystallizing Public Opinion” was a favorite tool of Joseph Goebbels. The correspondent told Bernays that Goebbels used the book as a basis for his destructive campaign against the Jews.
While many American politicians and businessmen paid top dollar for Bernays’s skill at manipulation, many others criticized his methods, motives and character. Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter referred to Bernays and others of his ilk as ‘professional poisoners of the public mind’. “Editor And Publisher” portrayed him as ‘the young Machiavelli of our time’.
Bernays’s uncle was Sigmund Freud and Bernays revolutionized public relations by combining the traditional functions of a press agent with the methods used by psychologists and sociologists to create what one writer labeled as ‘The Science Of Ballyhoo’, or what we now know as ‘spin’. Edward Bernays died in 1995 at age 103, but the ‘Science Of Ballyhoo’ lives on and the ‘professional poisoners of the public mind’ still ply their trade. Utilized extensively by politicians and large corporations, their value today is greater than ever before as everyone searches for an idea to sell or a cause to spin that will deliver the desired results of election to office, or financial profits, or both. And let there be no mistake about it: Nothing gets done, no law is passed, no action is taken until it has been packaged and processed for public consumption resulting in one of two things: it must advance someone’s career or increase their electability, or it must be profitable to them or someone they know.
Wars on poverty, crime and drugs were all wars that were declared first by these people we can’t see, with the voices we can’t hear. Long before anyone recognizable in face or name stood before the American people to cry out for the need to man the battle stations and confront those plagues on society, consultations were held with those who knew Bernays’s craft and could advise those who hired them on what to say, how to say it, and when in order to galvanize public opinion in support of their cause.
Hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent on these societal problems that have been ‘spun’ into attacks on us and our families that we are then convinced must be beaten back at all costs. We have been made to believe that spending the futures of our children, of their children, and THEIR children is the only way to counteract the different evils that we have been manipulated into believing affect each and every one of us. Through obfuscation and misdirection, we have been convinced that spending to create prisons and then filling them to overflowing is the way to security, safety and well-being for this nation. But as those who build the prisons and supply their needs rake in billions and billions of dollars and destroy millions and millions of lives, the real issues of education, real economic growth, retirement security, and others that DO affect the lives of ALL Americans remain on the back burner because the public’s eye has been drawn elsewhere.
In the wars on crime and drugs, the most egregious criminal act is the wholesale incarceration of hundreds of thousands of men and women for unconscionably long periods of time which accomplishes nothing other than putting money in the pockets of those promoting the wars and writing the laws in the first place.
Our prison system is overflowing with no end in sight as a result of all of this. Billions of dollars worth of business requires prison populations to remain constant or – better yet – to increase. But is the American public as exposed to danger as the well-orchestrated histrionics of our politicians and the media would have us believe? Or is it conceivable that laws are intentionally created and designed for the sole purpose of maximizing incarceration levels to benefit private and corporate profits? I submit that the latter is closer to the truth.
Consider the following facts taken from the 2011 edition of “The World Almanac”: In 2009, Florida’s population was 18,537,969. The state of New York’s population in the same year was 19, 541, 453, or slightly over one million MORE than Florida. At the same time, Florida’s prison system held 103,423 inmates while New York had 59,778 incarcerated individuals. With slightly more than one million FEWER residents, Florida incarcerated enough people to fill New York’s prisons almost TWICE. The racial make-up of the 2 states is fairly equal, so that is not an issue. What, then, could cause such a radical difference in the number of people in prison? It is impossible to examine that situation without taking the following facts into consideration:
- Florida is home to GEO, the second largest private prison company in the world. Headquartered in Boca Raton, GEO contributes significant amounts to the political coffers in Florida and highly paid lobbyists work diligently to increase the already significant business presence of GEO in the state. Correction Corporation of America (CCA), which is the LARGEST private prison company in the world also has a significant presence in the state and contributes significant amounts to political campaigns as well.
- Conversely, in New York state, private prisons are AGAINST THE LAW.
There are people… many people… working daily across this country to find the next occupant of a 7X11 cell and they are now focused on everyone who owns a computer because some estimates indicate that 75% or more of ALL computers have some form of child pornography on them.
So another war has been declared, this one ostensibly to protect the young and defenseless. On the surface, this is the most noble of causes. But it is a war that simply does not need to be fought at the level it is being fought.
As I have said repeatedly, in one form or another, I simply cannot put a ‘spin’ on child pornography that makes it anything other than the horribly permanent record of child sexual abuse that it is. Nor will I ever try. At the same time, a trusting public is being enraged and incensed against a segment of the population that is growing at a frightening rate and, while the public has the right level of moral outrage directed at the images themselves, they are being mislead as to the dangers presented by those foolish enough, curious enough, or misguided enough to think that it is an innocent thing to view images of innocence stolen. It is far from innocent behavior, but it can, and should, be dealt with differently.
Instead, those trained in the Machiavellian ways of Edward Bernays are now FURTHER exploiting the very children who have been so tragically exploited. As difficult as that may be to believe, there is an enormous amount of empirical data to substantially refute the claim of danger that is presented by those who view child pornography. This in NO WAY indemnifies those who view it or possess it, but it does need to be taken into consideration when addressing the problem as a whole.
Moreover, the problem itself need not exist to the extent that it does. With technology that has been around for YEARS, much of the child pornography that circulates on the internet does not even have to reach the computers in America’s homes.
Next time, I will explain why an intrusion by the U.S. government is necessary. In fact, I will show why the American public should DEMAND this intrusion and I will tell you why failure to intrude to the level of current technological capabilities should result in criminal and civil action being taken against those who fail to do so.
Next time, “A NECESSARY INTRUSION – PERHAPS THE WRONG PEOPLE ARE BEHIND BARS.”
More to follow tomorrow…