In reading the letters to the editor in the recent edition of this paper, I doubt that the letter writers actually talked to a liberal or, much less, read their political platforms. I do not mean to single them out; they do what everyone else does when forming opinions.
We tend to stay in our information comfort zone looking for affirmation that our views are correct. It's basic human psychology. This is not dangerous in itself but leaves us vulnerable to suggestion through sophisticated use of propaganda.
In order to amplify the effectiveness of propaganda, the propagandist must also prevent conversation or the exchange of ideas that run counter to the propagandists’ goals and doctrines. As Ann Coulter put it in her bestseller, “How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must),” “Always outrage the enemy.”
When advice like this is taken up by suggestible people, not only does the exchange of ideas that are foundational to our democratic process cease; but, more darkly, fellow countrymen who do not adhere to those doctrines become the enemy and scapegoats for the country's problems. This does not only apply to liberals but also to conservative “RINOs” who dare to question party doctrine in contrast to perceived realities.
We need to recognize that the propagation of this sort of propaganda is not simply divisive but also destructive to our American ideals. It reduces patriotism from the participation in the great project of democracy to mere flag waving. It leaves no room for discussion and opens the door to violence.
I do not expect that people like these letter writers, who are steeped in these extreme doctrines, will be convinced otherwise. It is my hope that the greater public will learn how to recognize propaganda when they see it. An excellent book on this topic is “How Propaganda Works” by Jason Stanley.
The idea of democratic process relies upon our ability to exchange ideas and come to, if not consensus, at least a tolerable compromise that we may ever move forward toward a more perfect union.
Fred W. Nehring