Our civic religion

October 19, 2007 | By | Reply More

This article by Dave Brichous sums up the components our our National Faith. These components, considered together, constitute our “patriotized history”:

Rather than telling the truth about U.S. actions in other people’s countries, mainstream media present us with a false picture, a patriotized history. In this imaginary world, U.S. actions have the same five characteristics regardless of place or time. They are: 

self-sacrificing (not for selfish U.S. interests) 
benevolent (intended to help the people of the target country) 
self-defensive (never aggressive) 
freedom-pushing (trying to force others to be democracies) 
legal (possessed of legitimate authority) 

We can call these five the core myths of patriotized history. Events and facts from real history that show U.S. behavior as opposite to these five myths get removed or redefined as their own opposites, so that the message, the meaning conveyed by the texts, always conforms to them. 

Brichous’ article contains numerous observations regarding the way the media manipulates these alleged qualities.  His article is a clinic in learning how to recognize dys-information.  What are some of the specific techniques used by the media?

One reason patriotized history is so powerful is that it is rarely delivered directly. A lie is most vulnerable when it is held up for examination as an explicit claim. This encourages listeners to consider whether they agree or not, whether they know enough to agree or disagree, and even to do some research and find out the facts. By contrast, if the lie is slipped into the conversation as if it were something we all already know to be true and agree upon as a matter of course, it is likely to go unchallenged. It is even more convincing if it is the implied, but unspoken message. Strongest of all is if it is implied in the negative, by its absence. 

This entire article is well-written and well-considered.  It should be required reading for anyone who considers ever reading any newspaper.  Truly.


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About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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