Propaganda, Prejudice, and Pragmatism, by Groff Schroeder: Freethought Views, June 2020

Propaganda, Prejudice, and Pragmatism

by Groff Schroeder


It is documented fact that the United States is enduring ongoing, sophisticated enemy propaganda attack designed to divide the American people against ourselves and destroy our trust in the institutions of American government. Simultaneously, we face serious problems, including accelerating environmental degradation, unresponsive leadership, and the painful sequelae of centuries of systemic racial prejudice and violence. Meanwhile, global pandemic aids the forces attempting to destroy America from within.


Governments exist to protect and serve citizens, and laws, law enforcement, and their equal application are the foundation of honest governments and just societies. When government injures its own citizens, subverts the rule of law, or covers up political criminality, protest naturally erupts. When peaceful protest is thwarted, counterproductive - or false flag - violence often follows.


All communities include a spectrum of individuals, from extremely honest, moral, and kind, to extremely dishonest, immoral, and unkind. Once we develop a positive or negative assessment of a community or situation, that point of view becomes difficult to change even as it drives our perception of the information we receive. Often, all members of a community are stereotyped or perceived as exclusively positive or negative. In addition, individuals who lie to themselves allow strongly held incorrect perceptions to combine with propaganda's disinformation, misinformation, and logical fallacies, reinforcing easily exploitable mistrust, hatred, and especially, malignant prejudice.


Many Americans wake up every day as members of a community that could easily lead to their death that same day - because they are paid to work in dangerous law enforcement situations and locales. Yet law enforcement provides security, "back up," and support. Meanwhile, other Americans wake up as members of a different, impoverished community, that for sixteen generations has faced a significant probability of their (or their child or grandchild's) unjust death that same day - because the color of their skin. Yet the only support they can hope for is a random passerby who captures a shaky video of their last few minutes on earth. Members of the first community have numerous resources, support systems, and mechanisms through which to address this problem. Members of the second community do not.


In the military, questioning a leader is taboo, and soldiers who routinely used deadly force to reflexively eliminate extreme threats in war zones often become police officers expected to diplomatically eliminate threats nonviolently, provide wide a range of support services in peacetime communities - and use deadly force only as a last resort. And just as it appears difficult to overcome initial perceptions, history suggests that it is difficult to overcome initial training. Military decision making has a deadly civilian history, causing flight crews to fail to even question errant superiors, leading to numerous airliner crashes. Countless deaths led to a life saving Federal Aviation Administration requirement that commercial air carriers provide "Crew Resource Management" training that overcomes ingrained military responses inappropriate to civilian environments.


Division, suspicion, violence, and abandoning our trust in American institutions appear to exacerbate America's internal problems and facilitate the ongoing attacks upon our nation, our Constitution, our fellow citizens, and the foundations of the American democratic republic. It appears that defending our nation and our freedoms calls us to pursue verifiable factual information, overcome the prejudices and propaganda that deceives us into fighting each other, and join together in solidarity to defeat the problems and threats we face by demanding honest government.


Published June 3, 2020 in the Freethinkers of Colorado Springs Freethought Views column in the Colorado Springs Independent with the quotation below.


"War is over. If you want it." John Lennon