Hijacking Human Rights

by April 22, 2012
Something I've noticed on a regular basis on some indigenous newswires are articles like this, which purport by their titles to be pro-democracy or pro-indigenous, but in the text of the article argue for pro-US positions, and demonize non-compliant actors like the presidents of Venezuela and Bolivia. By targeting leaders or countries determined to conduct their affairs independent of the US for allegedly not living up to the spirit of human rights accords, anti-democratic journalists and right-wing publications like The American Spectator can thus come under the radar of some indigenous news editors, and thereby undermine indigenous solidarity or Fourth World sovereignty. A classic psychological warfare technique.
While there is room for criticism of all states and their leaders -- especially under neoliberal austerity programs -- the newswire articles I reference often exempt the US from criticism, which is ironic in that US aggression and globalization are the two major factors in global destabilization and indigenous displacement. Casually mentioning notorious states like China or Belarus, while leading with criticism of Venezuela and Bolivia, is clearly in synch with the strategy of globalization's advocates in the US State Department to marginalize globalization's opponents under the rubric of human rights.
The strategy reminds me of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's blog Dipnote, where similar public relations tactics exploit women's issues to attack opponents of US aggression. Maybe they hire the same PR firms.
Whatever the case, we all need to be more discerning about the source of news items, their implied versus actual intent, and the science of coercion. Knowing our enemies are working 24/7 to spread confusion and undermine our morale, we can at least attempt to avoid unwittingly spreading their malicious messages and toxic ideas.
Automated newswires and other tools may be convenient, but that convenience comes with a price. Sometimes that price is too high.
  • Ahni
    April 22, 2012 at 11:30 am

    Some timely words, Jay, thank you. The propaganda machine is on full blast right now and a lot of us are getting winged by it; especially those who don't know really know the lay of the land.


  • April 22, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    Coordinated propaganda machines include psywar, public relations, general news, and public education.

    One area often overlooked by novices to psychological warfare is the use of messages crafted and delivered for the purpose of preventing the enemy from effectively mobilizing audiences potentially supportive of its views, goals, and objectives. These strategically-developed messages — sometimes overt, sometimes covert — are those most-commonly associated with gray and black ops, white being forthright, gray misleading, and black counterfeit.

    Understanding these techniques of mass communication — deployed in abundance in politics and advertising today — is essential for those who care about where the world is heading, even if in the end they decide to avoid the field of social conflict themselves. Once educated on the topic, they can at least refrain from unwittingly undermining those with whom they agree.

    Manuel Castells, in his paper Communication, Power and Counter-power in the Network Society, has a lot more to say on this.

    The first principle of psywar is never repeat the talking points of your enemy. The second principle is to deny them a platform to misinform.


  • April 23, 2012 at 4:10 am

    Very interesting take.


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