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So there’s a difference between lying and propaganda, and it’s worth knowing what it is. All propaganda is lying, but not all lying is propaganda. So what’s the difference between the two?
Here’s what lying is. Think about the moments in your own life when you have lied. Most of the time you do it because you have done something that you’re ashamed of and you’re hoping nobody’s going to find out. When you’re caught as inevitably you are caught, you shade the truth. So someone says to you, you’re drunk. You say, No, I’m not. I’ve only had three beers, but actually you had eight beers. You’re lying. That’s what lying is.
Propaganda is very different from that. Propaganda is not a shading of the truth. Propaganda is a complete inversion of the truth. You’re drunk. Somebody tells, you know, I’m not your reply. You’re the one who’s drunk. You’ve had eight beers. It’s shameful. And I’m disgusted by your drunkenness. That’s a propaganda looks like it’s the mirror image of reality is the exact opposite of the truth. And it is always delivered with ferocious aggression.
Propaganda tends to bewilder people to confuse them when they first hear it. It’s so completely and obviously untrue. What is this, you think? And yet for that very reason, because it’s so ridiculous, so absurd. Propaganda tends to be effective. People assume that lies that bold have got to be true. Something about the human brain reaches that conclusion and always has. And that’s why propaganda has always been a feature of society, especially now it’s why we’re now swimming in propaganda. January 6th was an armed insurrection. They screamed, Russia is the real threat. The 2020 election was perfectly fair. COVID is more dangerous than opioids, no really, it is. It’s all true. We can give you countless examples of this in action, and you would recognize every one of them.
But here’s one from today’s headlines. Kyle Rittenhouse is a white supremacist. Now you’re hearing that claim constantly from media figures and from politicians as a factual matter. In case anybody cares. That is a lie. There’s no evidence whatsoever that Kyle Rittenhouse is a white supremacist, whatever that term is supposed to mean. There is precisely no racial angle at all to this story. None.
Of the four people directly involved in the Kyle Rittenhouse shootings, all four of them were white. So you might not like Kyle Rittenhouse, but if you’re an honest person, you would have to concede that racism had nothing to do with what he did. How could it? Why would a white supremacist shoot white people? It doesn’t even make sense. But that has not stopped them from telling you the opposite or even slowed them down. Here’s Joe Biden, just two days after the shootings in Kenosha, writing the first draft of what turned out to be a long propaganda campaign.
August 27, 2020, Andrea Mitchell: He has espoused some views. He’s part of a youth police group. He was out with a long gun and no one restrained him. What’s your concern about the involvement of others – perhaps he – but others who are white militia people stirring this trouble?
Joe Biden: I’m very concerned about it. What got me involved in this race was what happened in Charlottesville. These guys don’t use a dog whistle, they use a bullhorn. This is a 17-year-old man. I don’t know anything about him. All I know is that there’s some reporting about a connection to a militia in Illinois.
So really, you should save that tape. It is a textbook example of what’s going on of what they do. Notice the framing of that conversation. So the propagandist from NBC News doesn’t come out and call Kyle Rittenhouse a white supremacist. She can’t do that. The shootings just happened hours before the facts are too fresh. There was no evidence that Kyle Rittenhouse had ugly racial views, much less that he was motivated to shoot people because of those views. And everyone who’s paying attention at the time knew that very well. So instead of making the claim directly, the liar from NBC News stealthily broadens the question Are you concerned about others who are white militia people?
Well, wait a second. What other white militia people? Where are these people? What are you talking about? Exactly. But the liar from NBC News never tells us what she’s talking about. That’s not the point. She has given her candidate, Joe Biden, the opportunity to take it from there, which of course, he immediately does. That’s the point of the setup. And then Biden goes on to invoke the protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, from years before, which have precisely nothing to do with anything that happened in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in the summer of 2020. But they didn’t need to be connected. Factually, the point was obvious everyone watching understood the point. The point was Kyle Rittenhouse is a dangerous racist. And by the way, anyone who would defend Kyle Rittenhouse is probably a dangerous racist too—maybe one of those white militia people.
You see how that works, it works by indirection and stealth and dishonesty. But of course you see it because you see it every day because it never ended. They’re still telling you the same thing now. And because he never stopped repeating that lie. A lot of people now assume that it must be true. Kyle Rittenhouse. He’s a white supremacist, right? Many people think that. Why wouldn’t they?
So why have they been doing this for 15 months? Well, now it’s obvious. If Kyle Rittenhouse wasn’t actually what he was, which was a 17-year-old lifeguard who came to Kenosha to clean Antifa graffiti off the walls of schools. If he was something else entirely if he was an armed bigot, a member of some kind of white supremacist militia. Then the trial looks very, very different. If that’s true, then this trial is no longer about the principle of self-defense, is talking about whether Kyle Rittenhouse’s rifle was legal under Wisconsin law. No, no, no. It’s about something much bigger than ethat. If their lies are true, it means this trial is about whether Black people can continue to live in the United States without being fear in fear of being murdered by white supremacist militiamen like Kyle Rittenhouse.
And by the way, after much repetition at this point, many Americans believe that’s exactly what the trial is about, and they believe it because they keep hearing it on MSNBC.
Brittany Packnett Cunningham: There are only so many acceptable losses that white supremacy is willing to accept. So if Derek Chauvin is going to jail, you had best believe that Ahmaud Arbery’s murderers, people like Kyle Rittenhouse are going to be defended with all that this culture has because they have to make sure that the message is set, that white men will continue to control these systems. And that the rest of us should be living in fear
If Kyle Rittenhouse is acquitted, quote, the rest of us should be living in fear. Now, why would we be living in fear? Because Kyle Rittenhouse might go on to shoot other convicted child rapists and violent criminals who actually tried to murder him? That’s the threat. How afraid should the rest of us be of that? Once again, that claim doesn’t even make sense, but it doesn’t need to. The fact that it’s nonsensical does not diminish in any way the emotional power of those words. The rest of us should be living in fear. Imagine hearing that on live television from someone you’re supposed to trust which scared the hell out of you. Yes, it would. And of course, that’s the point of saying it.
But there’s another point, too. And that point is to subvert our system of justice. American justice is based on the principle of equality, the principle that all of us are equal under the law, no matter what we look like, no matter who are parents were, no matter where we came from. That’s called equality. And until very recently, our leaders were proud to offer it.
Equity is something very, very different. In fact, it’s the opposite of equality. If you think equity is the point of the justice system that you don’t care about the details, you’re not interested in the evidence, you don’t understand who is actually guilty or innocent before the law. What you care about instead, is the appearance of the defendants, the identity of the people who are convicted and acquitted. According to the principles of equity. How you were born determines whether or not you are guilty. That’s equity. And it’s not a fringe theory anymore, according to Joe Biden himself, equity is the organizing principle of this White House. He said so the day he was inaugurated.
But in order to replace equality in our justice system and every other institution with equity, that means you have to tear down the system we currently have and have used for the last two hundred and fifty years. That’s not easy. It’s a big assignment. How do you do it? Well, in the justice system, there’s no faster way to tear it down than by calling judges racist, which, needless to say, is exactly what they’re doing now.
Elie Mystal: He has made a series of decisions, each one perhaps maybe individually defensible, but in totality lead to the impression of a biased racist judge with his Trump rally cellphone that is trying to get Rittenhouse a walk.
The racist judge. So that’s a very heavy thing to say about anyone and particularly a sitting judge in the middle of a murder trial. So the question is, is the judge actually a racist? In the answer, as you know by now, is that No, there’s no evidence of that at all. And the man who has claimed the judge was racist knows there’s no evidence of it. The man who just claimed it by the way went to Harvard Law School. He’s not stupid. He knows what the facts are. He just doesn’t care what the facts are. Whatever it takes.
So this way of looking at the world intentionally denying reality for the sake of a desired outcome is often called postmodernism. But that’s not quite right. In fact, this is pre-modern. This is an instinct older than civilization itself and in fact, a challenge to civilization itself. This is the kind of thinking that leads to tribalism. Tribalism is the belief that my team is always right and your team is barely human. Tribalism has been around for as long as people have been around. It’s never gone away. It just lurks beneath the surface of societies, all societies. One of the main goals of any civilization is to suppress tribalism so that we can live together without killing one another. So you should be concerned when it reemerges in public and boy has it.
Joy Reid: The Kyle Rittenhouse trial. It reminded a lot of people of something: The Brett Kavanaugh hearings. In which Brett Kavanaugh had been accused by a high school friend of committing sexual abuse of her. Cried his way through the hearings to make himself a permanent member and associate member of the United States Supreme Court. His tears turned out to be more powerful than the tears of Christine Blasey Ford, which were the tears of an alleged victim. In America, there’s a thing about both white vigilantism and white tears, particularly male white tears.
So that is it currently employed MSNBC anchor, Harvard graduate, not an employee of Radio Rwanda. And that person is telling us what she really thinks in a Tik Tok video. White tears. She mocks the very idea. People that evil can’t cry. They don’t have human emotions because they’re not really human. You don’t have to care about them. They don’t qualify for your compassion. You can laugh as they weep and feel good about it. You often hear the word dehumanize. What does it mean? That’s what it looks like. So you wonder how long this can go on our country before something really important breaks.
This article is adapted from Tucker Carlson’s opening commentary on the November 17, 2021 edition of “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”