Thursday, September 1, 2011

oh, propaganda

I made a flyer to post around my neighborhood today. I was motivated to do this after a recent conversation with a friend who used to live down the street. We have known each other for over four years, yet I just found out that her family is atheist. So, I decided to start a neighborhood group of secular parents. I doubt that I will get much of a response...rather, I doubt that I will get a lot of people wanting to join. I expect to get some emails that are less than friendly. But, the point is that I put it out there, and maybe it will have a positive effect for someone. This was my flyer:

Are you a secular parent? Trying to raise your kids without religion?
You are not alone! Join our neighborhood parent group! We are happy, friendly people raising our kids with reason, 
skepticism, and humanism.

Now, for the propaganda part. I wanted to find some images related to atheism or secular-humanism for my flyer, so I turned to google images. If you do an image search for 'secular', there are over 4.4 million results. The most popular results include lots of political cartoons, comics, some maps & graphs, and this:

Can you say emotional manipulation? Propaganda is meant to influence by emotion, and has been used, extensively and successfully worldwide, for religious and political gain. This image has almost certainly done its job many times. How can you disagree with a cute, all-american farm girl who loves jesus and just wants to pray in school? Easily. Very easily. If you know what you are looking at, then it is less likely to influence your judgement. We have to understand that propaganda plays on our most basic fears, hopes, and affiliations. When you know that you are being manipulated, it is much easier to take a step back and view the world through a more objective lens. Here are a few more American propaganda posters that I found via google images. Note that the last two are comments on propaganda, not actual propaganda themselves. It's meta-propaganda.

 No questions? Funny, that's what 
being a good christian means, too!


Apparently we were a heathen nation until 1954 when "under god" was added to the pledge.

Just wrong. 
We are already quite good at fighting amongst ourselves, thank you very much!

At least his college is already paid for. 
I think that we all saw this coming when we were three. If any-muppet is going to take over the world fascist-style, it would be Bert. Only a ruthless dictator could love pigeons that much.


  1. According to Google Translate, Bert says "Invincible."

    Many people think of the USSR as being the master of propaganda. But Anya and I compared old Soviet and American propaganda posters from WWII, and they're virtually indistinguishable (once translated). They both used the same types of messages and similar methods to convey those messages. Also, our National Anthem is way more violent than that of the USSR. But the kicker is the Pledge of Allegiance. I explained the concept to her and it seemed weird and a even a little creepy to her. She never had to do that in school (Just think, she was in first grade when the USSR fell). When you think about it, the image of classrooms of children mindlessly and monotonously reciting a scripted pledge of loyalty does seem a little cult-like. When I taught high school, I never forced kids to do the pledge. I usually used that time to make last minute preparations and take attendance.

    Today, most people are cynical of propaganda from government sources. However, we sure take in a lot of it from private marketing agencies.

  2. about a week after i had posted my flyers on the community mailboxes, the HOA decided that posting was no longer allowed. people have been posting a wide variety of flyers on the boxes for years. what an odd coincidence that they decided to disallow posting right after an atheist flyer went up. maybe it was truly just a coincidence, but the timing is suspicious.