Passions. Prejudices. Loaded words. Meaningless words. Imprecise words. Implying that aberrations are the norm. Behind a smokescreen constructed of such deception lurks the demagogue. With appeal to emotion he obscures reason. With loaded, meaningless, or imprecise words he persuades the unthinking. With passion and prejudice he sets us against each other. Making isolated aberrations appear the norm, he divides and conquers. Power is his goal and he cares not for the trouble he causes. Adolf Hitler plunged the world into the most destructive war in history. Jim Jones led his followers into mass suicide. Pol Pot created a hell on earth for his people. Other demagogues have caused similar problems.
Nor is the U.S exempt. Campaign ads and slogans typically appeal to emotions but say little or nothing. “Hope and change?” Hope for what? Socialism? Freedom? Tax-funded gifts to everyone? That was left to the voters' imaginations. Change? That could mean anything from absolute dictatorship to anarchy. The slogan was meaningless.
Are Republicans exempt? Hardly. I remember a full-page ad with the republican candidate's name in large print, along with the office he was seeking. It showed him beside a tractor with a farm in the background. A nice, pretty picture – and nothing else. Not a word about his qualifications or what he expected to do if elected. What did that tell the voters? Nothing! All image, no substance.
Pick a politician at random; look at his campaign slogan and advertising. Chances are it will have no real meaning. If you want to know his qualifications and intent you have to look elsewhere – and really work to get the information.
Nor is this limited to politicians. We have race baiters and others who encourage us to jump to conclusions before the facts are in. By so doing, they distract us from the more important issues while gaining power or money for themselves.
In Chapter 5 [of Freedom or Serfdom?] we discuss the false rape accusations involving Tawana Brawley, the rape charges against the Duke Lacrosse Team, and the shooting of Trayvon Martin. Those cases became national scandals, to the detriment of the falsely accused and even of at least one witness who refused to toe the party line. The race-baiting demagogues picked those isolated cases and used them to present an overblown perception of racism – while lining their own pockets and enhancing their own celebrity.
Meanwhile, the greatest danger to Blacks is not white men or police, but other black men. Of every thousand Blacks murdered, some 930 are killed by other Blacks. That fact holds the key to prevention of many murders, yet it is hardly ever publicized. That is not to say that prejudice does not exist, it does. It is only to say that the major cause of Blacks being murdered is not white on black prejudice, but the behavior of some Blacks. Failure to address that problem sentences many young Blacks to death.
Unless we ignore the demagoguery and demand real information, we will fall victim to misinformation and bigotry. It may or may not become as bad as what happened in Ceylon, but it will harm us.
Next time I'll discuss an example of demagoguery, what happened in Ceylon/Sri Lanka