Emad Barsoum writes: Media and Public opinion in the times of War
These were the words and doctrine of Joseph Goebbels, who was the second most important man in the German Nazi Party, and the Minister of Propaganda for Adolf Hitler’s regime. His job was to create public opinions in favor of the party’s ideologies and goals, direct the mass crowds of the Germans to believe in their racial superiority and antisemitism, paving the way for the Nazi’s evil ambition to occupy and control the world.
Such malicious plans were achieved through what we know as Media and Communication, which were, at those times, mostly Radio and Newspapers. Other forms of media would be public speeches, which have significantly influenced listeners throughout history since the Greek civilization, who invented the art of speaking and persuasion.
Many philosophers realized how a ruler could control and guide the crowd through speeches. Later, this art was extended to religious preaching and discourses and left a substantial effect on dogma. Hence, the average man is more likely to listen to and believe a person with higher authority and influence than the ordinary man. In fact, such individuals have found effective means of communicating their ideas and political directions in media.
Through the massive revolution in Media and Communications nowadays, Media can have control over even much bigger crowds, cross borders in seconds, and reach all inhabited parts of the globe. However, the main dilemma and fear would be how genuine, and authentic are these news, ideas, and events!
Back to Goebbels’s doctrines on how to direct public opinion, by any means possible, even if they are lacking ethics and principles; we would realize that we are surrounded by news and stories that have no actual proof of their authenticity, rather, their purpose is to manipulate the public in believing what politicians and different regimes want us to follow. Till we wake up one day and those untrue facts become reality, then anyone who speaks opposite to those alleged facts could become a public enemy.
From the Soviet invasion to Afghanistan passing through the invasion of Iraq by the USA, then how the propaganda was made to convince the world that the revolution in Egypt against the fascist regime of the Muslim Brotherhood was just a coup d’états, the war in Yemen, and coming now to the Russian/Ukrainian war, many allegations were not based on the facts, but mostly on what the Media wants to tell us to believe. Consequently, serving other purposes than the disputed conflicts themselves.
Very few today would listen to the Media and think twice before making their own opinion, fewer would go and search or learn about facts and realities behind the events, and what led to such a conflict.
The majority are blindly following or trusting their Media, or fear being different from the crowd, thus avoiding being unaccepted by the majority. Some fear learning the truth, because the truth could shake what they believed in for much longer times, then would create doubt even about their own self’s existence.
Therefore, we would rather have an inquisitive mind, and an open mind to find the truth, than a closed mind with lies and deception.