Information, observations, and analysis from the James River valley on the Northern Plains-----
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Shades of Adolph.
Image control is essential to damage control. The Bush administration has drawn upon all the techniques detailed by George Orwell on the use of the media in orchestrating an intimidated and gullible populace into believing what it says and supporting it. Just as the Soviet Union and China tried to fool the people into thinking their society was good and America was bad by filling the landscape with slogans and posters which were contrary to the realities in which their people lived, the Bush administration tries the same device about the war on Iraq.
In the field of sign theory, or semiotics, scholars recognize that people use visual symbols to summarize and represent momentous events and abstract ideas. The cross, for example, represents the life of Christ to Christians. But in totalitarian regimes, the symbols, or icons, are meant to direct attention away from facts and realities and supplant them with images and symbols designed to prompt adoration of the regime. Bush's most obvious use of this tactic was when he landed on an aircraft carrier during the first months of the war on Iraq and, wearing a combat flight suit, stood in front of a huge sign saying, "Mission Accomplished."
This week the Bush administration iconography was trotted out in full force. Yesterday in his speech at Annapolis, as shown in the photo on the left, Bush stood amidst a jungle of graphics broadcasting "A Plan for Victory." His audience was the cadets at the Naval Academy, who react like derelicts who have to sing a hymn or two before they are allowed to eat at the rescue mission. The production is intended to fool the people into thinking that all is going well in Iraq. The message is countered by news accounts and observations by people who find that the "stay the course" message must be translated as "kill some more of our own."
The photo on the right shows Bush at a fundraiser Monday for a Texas senator. Note the use of television projections to enlarge the image of President and make him seem larger than life.
All of these propaganda techniques fit into a pattern which includes paying Iraqi newspapers and journalists to publish stories that the American presence in Iraq is welcome and the people are embracing democracy. For the full story on the planted and paid-for stories, click the headline for this post.