A.J. DiCintio
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By A.J. DiCintio
July 21, 2013

Every person who cares about defending the Bill of Rights will acknowledge the profound relationship that exists between Washington's warning regarding "that love of power and proneness to abuse it which predominates in the human heart" and the oft quoted maxim which declares that "eternal vigilance is the price of liberty."

That being the case, those same folks surely thank John Hudson for his article, "U.S. Repeals Propaganda Ban, Spreads Government-Made News To Americans" (thecable.foreignpolicy.com) for the following three reasons.

First, it informs us of the congressional repeal of language in the decades old Smith-Mundt Act that "prevented the U.S. government's mammoth broadcasting arm from delivering programming to American audiences."

Second, it explains the fundamental reason behind the prohibition by quoting Nebraska Senator Edward Zorinsky, who, in 1985, argued that government propaganda ought not be permitted in a nation that fundamentally distinguishes itself "from the Soviet Union where domestic propaganda is a principal government activity."

And third, it informs us that officials of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which directs the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks, as well as politicians such as Representative Mac Thornberry (R-TX) don't accept Zorinsky's argument.

They agree, instead, with BBG spokeswoman Lynne Weil, who "insists BBG is not a propaganda outlet" because its agencies "present fair and accurate news."

Problem is, supporters of the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012 make two horrendous mistakes:

. . . They ask us to accept the lie propagated by 50's entertainment executives who selfishly ignored a democracy's need for a private, diverse media that insures no political figure or party is exempted from exhaustive, unrelenting scrutiny when they conceived of Uncle News Anchor and marketed the character as imbued with a perfect probity, objectivity, intellect, and prescience that permits him to select and present the public with "the" news or, as one actor who famously played the role put it, "the way it is."

. . . They summarily dismiss Washington's warning about the human heart, a reality, history shows, whose implications become frightfully important with respect to the insatiable power loving heart of the politician.

Those realities notwithstanding, government produced propaganda is now permissible in the United states.

That fact combined with recent Supreme Court decisions that have affirmed the government's authority not just to engage in speech but to do so in partnership with private organizations that require members to pay for that speech ought to have every citizen concerned about a future in which American democracy looks ever more like the "temporary dictatorship" that used Pravda to give the USSR's citizens all "the" news they needed to know.

Foremost among those decisions is "Johanns v. Livestock Marketing Association," in which the Court ruled for the Bush administration that the "Beef: It's What's for Dinner" advertising campaign, which the government carried out in conjunction with the beef industry, whose members were required to contribute $1 per head of cattle toward its cost, didn't infringe upon ranchers' First Amendment rights not to have speech forced upon them because the ads constitute government, not private, speech.

Moreover, in a similar case that went against dissenting dairy farmers required to pony up money for the government's "Got Milk?" ad campaign, the Court's liberal activist justices incredibly maintained that the campaign had nothing whatsoever to do with the government's forcing speech upon anyone but everything to do with its power to regulate commerce.

Let's suppose, then, that Smith-Mundt had been "modernized" a few decades ago, so that when the current administration assumed power, it inherited federal agencies with enormous experience in offering propaganda to the American public.

Now, given the testimony which an imperious, even contemptuous Barack Obama and his obedient appointees have provided in support of the truth that the political heart bursts with the "love of power and proneness to abuse it," do you think it likely the nation would, for example, currently be awash in government "news" about the wonders of the oxymoronically titled Affordable Care Act?

Furthermore, do you think much of that "news" would flow from incestuous relationships in which government teams up with cash flush ideological groups and business interests to tout the Act's medical, social, economic, and political beauties?

And given reports the Obama administration is preparing to enlist teens to promote the Act and has even considered the idea of recruiting an entire professional sports league and its stars to do the same, do you think it likely that today the federal government's Broadcasting Board of Governors would be operating a broadcasting arm religiously devoted to serving up "news" to the nation's youth?

Not a pretty picture, is it?

However, it's one that becomes hugely more frightening if our vigilant minds will do the following:

. . . Recall the argument made by Senator Zorinsky and then think about the fact that the Barack Obama who has tied the ruthless principles of Alinskyite community organizing to his entire approach to governing is the same Barack Obama who on the third day of his first term introduced the nation to Organizing for America (later, Organizing for Action), a "charity" that doesn't fund medical research, minister to the poor, or seek to solve the world's energy problems but is exclusively devoted to promoting Obama's collectivist vision for America.

. . . Consider that Obama will leave this perverse legacy to future presidents.

. . . Ponder this quote from Vladimir Lenin:

"The press should be not only a collective propagandist and a collective agitator, but also a collective organizer of the masses."

© A.J. DiCintio

 

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A.J. DiCintio

A.J. DiCintio posts regularly at RenewAmerica and YourNews.com. He first exercised his polemical skills arguing with friends on the street corners of the working class neighborhood where he grew up. Retired from teaching, he now applies those skills, somewhat honed and polished by experience, to social/political affairs.

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