Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Manipulation of media messages and thoughts on Iran

Sharyl Atkisson giving a lecture on "Astroturf and manipulation of media messages" at a TEDx event.  As a former journalist for CBS, it is especially illuminating to hear her descriptions of how special interest groups, professional social media manipulators, and plan old propaganda shape our opinions in the 21st Century.  I've touched on how Google and other search engines "optimize" what we see based on our preferences but Ms. Atkisson shows how results are manipulated before we even seen them.

Keep her presentation in mind as you read about the incident with the US Navy sailors and Iran.  The whole story is ripe with buzzwords and key phrases to slant information towards your particular view points.  If we go back in time just a little, Mr. Obama and Mr. Kerry were busy slapping themselves on the back for negotiation a deal that would cause Iran to give-up their nuclear weapons program (well at least for the next 18 months or so).

But there was always an assumption in this deal that Iran's nuclear program was an imminent threat to the US.  North Korea already has nuclear weapons and is run by a despot whose lineage has detested the United States.  Yet neither Mr. Obama or Mr. Kerry (and previously Hillary) were engaged in trying to disarm North Korea, however Iran doesn't have any nuclear weapons but is somehow more of a threat?

Let's assume for the moment that Iran was indeed the threat that Mr. Obama and Mr. Kerry would have us believe and that indeed the negotiated deal has made us safer.  One conclusion may be that Mr. Obama wanted to make Iran seem more dangerous so that a successfully negotiated nuclear arms deal would be his legacy.  Then on the same day as Mr. Obama's final state of the union speech the US Navy sailors were captured by Iran.

If everything were as copacetic, why then risk sending US Navy vessels anywhere near Iranian forces? We will never know the true reasons these sailors were sent in for it could have been to test Iranian resolve or to monitor Iranian compliance with the arms deal.

In either event, the incident is already being spun as "proof" that things are much better between the United States and Iran.  Odd, I don't recall US sailors being sent in near British or French forces.  And regarding the myth of a nuclear Iran, how is having Iran armed with nuclear weapons any less destabilizing than having the only non-Muslim nation in the region (Israel) most likely having nuclear weapons?

We are probably now in the most difficult time in history to be able to discern the truth since information is being manipulated not only by the usual suspects such as the government but now special interest/social media as well.  

All of this reminds me of a minor bit of clarity that came to me a few weeks ago.  There was this major bad guy named Hitler that United States and the Allies fought during WWII.  What made him so awful was he exterminated 6 million Jews.  It was so reprehensible that there is even a Holocaust museum here in the United States.  Ask any school kid and they probably know how to Google this.

However, you really don't want to think about this too hard for if you do you might be faced with a big question.  If Hitler was truly the anti-Christ that many believe for exterminating 6 million, then what does that make Josef Stalin for exterminating 20 million (estimated because Stalin also purged all records of the existence of those he had executed) of his own people during the Purge?  Oh and those purges happened between 1936-38, way before Hitler and the US were at war (and we knew anything about the Holocaust) yet we still sided with Stalin?  Keep that in mind as more details come out about Iran.

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