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How Propaganda Stokes Racial Animus and Increases Institutional Violence

We underestimate the effects of propaganda on others and ourselves. When politicians appeal to racism, they inflame racial animosity in the communities they serve. This increases and supports structural racism in community institutions.

The President influences the entire nation with his rhetoric and messaging. His propaganda reaches people across the country. By using racist or violent language and symbolism, the President increases hatred and violence in our communities and institutions.

Racism and bigotry are always present, but when politicians appeal to fear and prejudice they encourage and justify acts of discrimination and violence. People can become mean, vile, dangerous, and deadly.

Propaganda influences our attitudes and behavior. Racism and bigotry are always present, but when politicians appeal to fear and prejudice they encourage and justify acts of discrimination and violence. People can become mean, vile, dangerous, and deadly.

We’ve seen this mob mentality many times, from lynchings to genocide. We saw this with Hitler and the Holocaust where people under the influence of Nazi propaganda committed horrible crimes. Systemic injustice encompasses the larger cultural and political situation.

The behavior of institutions is influenced by both internal and external forces. The culture and political climate in the community and the nation influences the culture and behavior of institutions. Any analysis of systemic violence involves consideration of the larger system, the world in which the institution functions.

The United States is facing a crisis of leadership. President Trump is inflaming racial animosity and stoking division and discord. He has made no attempt to reach across the aisle and is using racist symbols and rhetoric to rile up his base. The President is a danger to the health, safety, and welfare of the nation and particularly to the lives of black people.

Republicans have allowed Trump to get away with violating the law and undermining democracy. President Trump violated the public trust and the law when he withheld public money in order to force a foreign leader to open a politically motivated investigation into his political rival. Had he gotten away with it, he would have used the disinformation to justify opening a sham investigation of Joe Biden, just as he has already begun sham prosecutions of the Mueller investigators.

This President is willing to conduct show trials to imprison his political opponents and take absolute power. Thank God we pressed ahead with impeachment because had we not our leaders would be under investigation for prosecuting the President. It would have been easier for Trump to press forward with show trials against his political opponents had we not fought back.

Our democracy is under attack. This President is above the law and the Republicans have allowed him to act with impunity. A President unrestrained by our constitutional system of checks and balances is a threat to our freedoms and democracy.

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No more looking the other way when the President issues incendiary statements and inflammatory rhetoric. No more excuses for why we should ignore Trump or fail to hold him accountable. Our freedoms, democracy, and lives are at stake.

This nation has not faced this type of crisis since the Civil War. This election is not only a referendum on Donald Trump, it may determine the fate of our constitutional democracy. The Republicans, President Trump, and multiple foreign governments are attempting to undermine democracy and steal the election.

We are all under the influence of propaganda because most of the information we use to make sense of the world is propaganda. Advertising, political messaging, publicity, public relations, news, and entertainment can all be forms of propaganda. “Propaganda is the dissemination of information—facts, arguments, rumors, half-truths, or lies—to influence public opinion.”

Propaganda is good or bad depending upon the motives or intentions of the propagandist. It can be used for good or evil. When politicians appeal to hatred and fear, they instill bigotry and racism into our culture and institutions.

All propaganda comes from the top. Propaganda comes from governments, corporations, religious institutions, academia, political parties, and other political and nonprofit organizations. Our trusted leaders use propaganda to motivate and manipulate us.

Propaganda can lead us into group-think where we adopt the group’s point of view rather than coming to our own conclusions. The power of propaganda is that it makes us think we came up with the ideas the propagandist put in our heads. Much of the division and factionalism among liberals and leftists are the result of words and ideas turned into weapons and used against us.

Let’s look at a recent example. In propaganda terms, the three words “Defund the Police” are what we call a “Glittering Generality.” A Glittering Generality is a short phrase or sentence that evokes an emotional response. People attribute their own meaning to the words and the phrase can have different meanings to different people.

This appears to be the case here. For some people, the words “Defund the Police” means to redirect money and services currently handled by the police to more appropriate social and community services and development. Minority communities are underserved and overpoliced and this disparity must end.

The words “Defund the Police” can also be turned into weapons and used against us. Some people react to the sentence with fear believing it means closing police departments. The right-wing media and the President can use people’s misgivings to create division and conflict where none currently exists.

The vast majority of Americans support the protesters, but that could change if the media and the President can stir up fear and conflict about “defunding the police.” The news media picked up on the potential for conflict and the President immediately recognized the potential use of the words as a tool to divide America and put an end to all the solidarity and unity over the murder of George Floyd and the effects of systemic racism.

Now is a time for unity and solidarity. The President must be held accountable for promoting hatred and encouraging violence. It’s time to get out into the streets and vote because immigrants are still in detention, children are still separated from their parents, and black people are still being killed in the streets.

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Rich Procida