Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Propaganda

This is the Dictionary.com definition of "propaganda"

1.information, ideas, or rumors deliberately spread widely to help or harm a person, group, movement, institution, nation, etc.

2. the deliberate spreading of such information, rumors, etc.

3. the particular doctrines or principles propagated by an organization or movement.

That being said, obviously neither Republicans or Democrats are innocent of engaging in the spread of propaganda. I don't think it is right for either party to oversimplify the stance that the other party has. I am a Republican, there is no secret in that. In fact, I am practically Libertarian. If I were a Democrat, I would just as likely find this book offensive, because it takes the stances that real people treasure, and treats them as if they are cold-hearted, ignorant, and class-based.

Look at those pictures! For instance, the first one. "Democrats make sure we all share our toys, just like Mommy does." And the rich snobs behind are passing by a beggar on the street. I am a Christian. I try to view each person I meet as someone that Christ gave His life for, and I try to teach my children to do the same (and that includes Democrats as well as the poor and those with prison records). Republicans are big on giving to charity, not hoarding their "wealth" (ha...like I'm wealthy!). They just don't want the tax money that could be given to charities, to help the poor, or to purchase products that will create jobs --- to be given to finance huge bureaucracies and to help the poor in ways that really don't help the poor. We want to have more of the money that we earn back so that we can choose to help the poor in ways that we see that will truly help.

I've been a social worker working with families who have had their children taken from them by the state. I've worked with and found ways to give respect to people who were being treated by everyone else as though they were the scum of the earth (including their Democrat caseworkers). And they weren't scum. They were mostly people who didn't have the skills or the emotional health to figure out how to make healthy decisions and provide for the needs of those who needed them, despite the fact that they did love their children. Family values had eroded so badly that their families were a hodgepodge of kids with different fathers who were either abusive or not in the picture. This does effect a woman's functionality as a mother. God didn't make parenthood to be like this.

Most Republicans that I know are very concerned about the poor, and seek to find ways to help. But the government regulation often makes it difficult for people and groups to help. My husband's home congregation set up a food bank, and the amount of paperwork that is required to make sure that those who are already on government assistance don't get certain things (by regulation), is appalling. This same church bought a property next door to them to start a clinic. The local hospital was thrilled. They offered to send their interns and residents so that they could have practice treating people without being surrounded by high tech machinery. In the end, they couldn't do it, because the 1940's house could not have a 2nd bathroom added, because the government insisted there be a bathroom for both genders....regardless of the lock on the door.

I do believe that most often, it is the people in the communities who know the best way to help those that need help....and are the ones who are going to care the most about giving the proper help, complete with accountability from the person who is being helped. Republicans are not a group of snobs who are in their private clubs, wearing their name brands, and choosing to remain isolated from the world. Often, they care very deeply and act on that caring.

"Democrats make sure we are always safe, just like Mommy does." I'm going to ignore the implication that the danger is from stampeding Republicans. I do have an issue with some of the safety issues that are pushed. Car seats for instance. I am all for car seats. But I have actually seen times where it would be better for my child to be out of one. My son, when he fell asleep in his carseat, would slump over and was completely unsupported. If we were in an accident, he would've been safer laying down on the seat in a seat belt harness than he was in that position. His neck would've snapped in that carseat. Yet my ability to make decisions for the welfare of my children is taken away in this simple law. Driving across country when we moved was a miserable experience for them because they couldn't be comfortable, couldn't really play games with each other....oh yeah, that's what the DVD player is supposed to be for now.

Schools. I do not believe that our schools are a safe place for our children to be. I also believe that they settle for mediocrity in the name of equality, rather than pushing children to excel. They are often indoctrination stations for tolerance of things that the Bible teaches against, and I know teachers in schools who say that kids are told not to tell their parents about what was discussed in health classes and other situations. In Los Angeles, where we lived before this, the parent is required to sign a form that allows the school to seek ANY medical care without informing the parent. The role of the parent is completely disrespected, and more and more, the parents are viewed as if they are even harmful to the child, whereas the school is beneficial, despite the fact that bullying, drugs, and violence are all on the rise. As a homeschooler, I have often had the perspective addressed to me that I am harming my children by sheltering them, not socializing them, and even harming them by teaching them things that are above and beyond what the schools teach, because they will have superior thinking skills and the other kids won't like them or will feel inferior.

The third one addresses college...."Democrats make sure children can go to school, just like Mommy does." My kids won't be able to get my help to go to school. I'm far from rich. But I also don't think that it is wrong for them to work to go to school, to save to go to school. I also think that college is a privilege, not a right.

On the other side of it all....I don't believe that most people on welfare are on welfare because they don't want to work. I've worked with clients who take pride in the fact that they do a good job in the jobs that they've had, and that they are able to hold on to a job. With prison records or lack of education, they're not able to make ends meet or make as much as they could on welfare...and they definitely don't get health benefits. I know a family where the mother has needed $100,000 back surgery, and NO ONE was going to do it without insurance or the guarantee of that amount. So the husband quit working because as long as they were bringing in ANY income, they would not qualify for Medicaid. She got her surgery, and they both feel shame that they are living off of the government when he is perfectly capable of providing for their basic needs. I also know a mother whose husband lost his job, which led to their losing everything and their separation. Her teenage kids went berzerk, as teenage kids often do when their lives fall apart, and she had to quit her job just to keep an eye on them, or they would be taken away.

However, I also know that federal guidelines which list alcoholism and drug addiction as diseases that allow someone to get disability benefits for these diseases without requiring the person to be in a treatment program or submit to periodic drug tests. A church or private social organization could make someone accountable for the aid that they received. When someone comes to the church looking for gas, we give gas cards or fill up their tanks. We give Walmart cards or such things when someone needs groceries. The local pastors communicate with each other so that they know who is "making the church rounds." If someone calls saying they need this kind of help or their power is being cut off, we ask for two people, preferably in a professional setting (their case worker, doctor, etc.) who can verify their story. Sometimes, the most loving thing is to say "no" so the person learns that they have to be accountable for their actions, or at least that we will not be taken in by sociopaths, and these exist, too. We also try to be aware of organizations who might be able to help beyond what we can, so that we can refer them. The government honestly does not have the means to do this, so either they help people in means that don't help them, really, and they don't give them a community such as a church congregation where they can grow and be a part of. This is why Republicans are usually against the way Democrats want to help the poor.

The fact is....Democrats do want to help the disadvantaged. Republicans do, too. They just see different roads to doing it. Treating either side like they are heartless and misguided isn't going to help. Simplifying positions down to little insulting stereotypes doesn't help, on either side. Imagine if instead of Republican and Democrat, it were Hindus portraying Muslims, or White and Black, men and women, Armenian and Hispanic, Protestant and Catholic, Serb and Croat. It would be wrong. In fact, those tacts are what lead to war in many countries. It could eventually break down that far here, too.

Because really what is going on is that such propaganda violates the 8th Commandment. It is bearing false witness against our neighbor. It is not truly portraying things as they are, and it is making them look bad and creating a prejudice in children that should not be there and will not help them grow into people who can make the world better. It only creates an air of moral superiority and turns these children into people that hate anyone with different views. This is wrong from either side.

12 comments:

Unashamed said...

Yup, it's propaganda alright. Rebellious Pastor's Wife - 1. Gunslinger - 0.

Dana said...

I absolutely agree.

I wrote about this book awhile back and couldn't get past the implication that the government is our "mommy."

That is how North Koreans are taught to look at their government.

Dr. Luther in the 21st Century said...

Amen, sister! The author of the book was definitely a propagandist for the group espousing the nanny state. I seem to recall a few studies which showed that conservative republicans were more generous than their counterparts on the other end of the political spectrum. My mother who works in Early Head Start has commented frequently, that the way the system is set up, it encourages people not to work and punishes those who do.

Melynda Hoffman said...

Standing up and clapping for Rebellious!

Rebellious Pastor's Wife said...

To re-emphasize the point, though....conservative "children's" books that do this, such as "Help, Uncle Teddy is Trying to take my Piggy Bank" and "Help, there are Liberals Under the Bed" do the exact same thing.

They narrow down a political philosophy into a brash stereotype and teach our children to disdain PEOPLE who hold those views. As much as I dislike and even abhor some Democratic stances, we are never going to be able to logically examine our stances and hope for change if we do not show respect.

Melynda Hoffman said...

I haven't read it yet.

Rebellious Pastor's Wife said...

I found a good post that addresses both books and I think makes some good points.

The Tour Marm said...

I've been working between Virginia and California. What a difference!

The perception that my Malibu friends have of Republicans is amazing! They don't associate with them and rely on Democratic sound bytes, rather than solid research.

It is difficult for them to grasp that the big red space in the middle of the country is not populated by wasteful, and uncaring corporate billionaires. The red state people are primarily farmers and blue collar workers.

I also point out that for each Republican billionaire, there are several Buffetts and Gates who are Democrats, not to mention all the greedy dot com silicon valley robber barons, and Hollywood types.

They command several million dollars for their movies, but treat and pay their help poorly.

They blame Republicans for the environment while they live in large homes built right over the beaches (with elevators going down to the beach to save them walking),

They own multiple gas-guzzling SUV's, and Hummers and yet are appalled that we are drilling for oil in Alaska and are still dependent on oil from the Middle East and Venezuela.

Not one person I spoke with had his/her own generator or alternate energy source to power their homes. (They could certainly donate their excess energy generated, to the needy.)

Some of my friends wear $500 Prada shoes (that were on sale!) that they can't walk in. (Why not buy $75 shoes that one can walk in, and donate the rest to those who don't have shoes?)

Not one of their children is involved with charity work or service programs. Their kids are not even exposed to poor people. They live in areas that are over 90% white and the only people of color they encounter are their maids and gardeners (who make up the other 10%).

Most don't go to church or synagogue, but maintain they're,'spiritual'. (I haven't figured out what that means.)

But, gosh, they're great with requiring the government to do something about the poor, and we all need to tolerate and embrace diversity.

During one particular visit, I was asked what I drove. I told them I didn't own a car, I use public transportation. My rental was a Geo Metro (at the time). There was absolute silence.

Then they wonder why I hang out with all these Lutheran teachers and Principals I work with (most of my schools in that area are Lutheran). It is my connection to sanity!

I have found that Republicans approach life in a more practical way.

Democrats need a reality check. They've come to believe their own press clippings.

I commissioned as a Christian to love; but some people are harder to love than others.

We need to get together as a nation and collectively tackle the problems which are common to us rather than engage in class warfare.

But on another thread. Propaganda is actually that which informs, influences, and motivates a person in a proactive manner. Not all propaganda is bad or deceitful; there's just a negative connotation to the word - just like 'scheme' for 'program'.

Sorry if this was to long, but this is one of my buttons.

Blessings!

Rick said...

This is an excellent post. My wife (Marie from Homestead Lutheran Academy) urged me to read it, and I'm happy I did.

Scott (a.k.a. Die Schreiben von Schreiber) and I are also conservatives, but more along the lines of moral libertarian. We have started a site where we hope to discuss issues while excluding party deliniation. Please join us at Patriots and Tyrants.

Thanks,
Rick

annie said...

Hello, What an interesting post.

I wanted to comment I think you made some interesting points about propaganda and how both sides do it. However, notice in the definition the word 'deliberate'. My point is that often times people actually believe their positions and are completely unaware they are spreading propaganda.

For example, when you stated

I try to view each person I meet as someone that Christ gave His life for, and I try to teach my children to do the same (and that includes Democrats as well as the poor and those with prison records).

You were probably being very sincere, and cannot hear that you are spreading propaganda.

(Republicans, people who commit adultery, and illiterates?)

Personally, I don't like a big mommy state either. I think there is enough to go around for everyone. I think Democrats worry about government waste as much as Republicans do, we just see the culprits as different segments of society. Republicans worry about all those tax dollars going to the poor. Democrats worry about it going to private contractors.

I think much more government waste and fraud goes into feeding these large companies (like this one), that if we could cut down on some of this waste, there would be plenty money to help the poor, help themselves.

I think to bridge the gap between the right and the left one of the first things we need to do is understand people really believe what they say, and often times don't even realize they are spreading propaganda.

Thank you for the valuable post, I still think the world is safer now that we have car seats, but then I am a Democrat!

Rebellious Pastor's Wife said...

Actually, I thought I was being funny by using irony....I don't believe that Democrats are to be equated with criminals and the like...but some people act like they are. Sometimes jokes don't translate well in writing....

On the whole, I'd agree about carseats...I just don't like that more and more decisions are being taken away from the parents. Sometimes, we deserve the freedom to be idiots, too. :)

Thanks for your thoughtful response.

And thank you Tour Marm, too, for your perspective. I kind of fit into the category of "Crunchy Con" and my experience of living in Pasadena for seven years probably made me that way. But many of the liberals that I met out there were middle class, just like me, and wanted to keep their kids safe. In that case, it is really just what issues and solutions we chose to focus on that defined "what is safe."

annie said...

.I just don't like that more and more decisions are being taken away from the parents.

i couldn't agree more. this new vacine for young girls is an excellent example (horrors!)

there needs to be a balance, but i think we can start by agreeing that most mothers know matter what there political beliefs want what is best for there children.

where the state comes in is deciding where the greater good for society trumps the right of the individual.

if we consider first what is best for our own family sometimes we risk establishing a course of events that eventually create a worse society, without even realizing it.

i really believe most people are good and are acting on principles they believe, and that this is the best way to approach the situation.

in the way, the book you highlighted, instead of simply promoting things we should all care about, sends a political message, that only one segment of society promotes good.

we need more trust in eachother to work together to make a better world. blame won't solve out issues.

thanks again, and congrats on your exposure from the article.