America is under attack. Cyber attack, that is. Throughout the past year, the Russians have spread wave after wave of fake news in an attempt to influence American voters.
National Intelligence Director James Clapper says the US needs to counter these attacks with our own propaganda. We need to bring back the US Information Agency, he says. Except this time, “on steroids”.
Now, I know the word “propaganda” carries a negative connotation, but don’t let that dissuade you. Former USIA head Ed Murrow said propaganda is fine, “so long as that propaganda is based on the truth.” And if there’s anyone we can trust to be a fair arbiter of the truth, it’s a government agency.
Let’s take a look at the US government’s long history of helping the public understand the truth.
Here’s a 1944 documentary about Japan and how Shintoism is a dangerous religion that drives the Japanese to become bloodthirsty imperialists hell-bent on world domination. Boo!!
It mostly features footage from old samurai movies and bad translations read in a Mickey Rooney accent. Americans didn’t know much about Japan in the 1940s and struggled to understand why the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. The fact that we cut off their oil supply might have had something to do with it. The film leaves that part out and blames it on Japan’s desire to conquer America.
This part talks about how Japanese people play a combative board game called Go, which teaches them military strategy. I wonder if we should be extra worried about evil AI now.
The Defense Department also made a documentary about Germany. America had a large population of ethnic Germans so it was harder to completely make shit up. The film focuses on Prussia’s history of territorial expansion. Frederick the Great and Otto von Bismarck conquered neighboring states by force! Not like their neighbors in France and Britain, who settled colonies through kindness and generosity.
Germany’s warmongering culture meant that as soon as Allied forces withdrew after World War I, the Germans started remilitarizing and planning for world domination again. The biggest mistake of the Versailles Treaty was allowing these people to have their own country. 😠
Our Defense documentaries weren’t all negative. Here’s a 1943 film about our friends in Russia. It shows different ethnic groups dancing and playing musical instruments, and explains how people in Moscow, Ukraine, Moldova, Armenia, Georgia, Kazakh, Kirghiz, and Turkmen all share a common love of their Soviet Republic. Poland is conveniently never mentioned anywhere. Maybe they love the USSR a little bit less.
It’s because Russia is so rich in culture and natural resources that a long history of aggressors keep trying to conquer it. From the Teutonic Knights in the 13th century to the Swedes in the Great Northern War, Napoleon in 1812, and Kaiser Wilhelm in WWI, everyone keeps beating up on these innocent peasants. Now Hitler wants to take Moscow. We have to go stop him!! 🙁 🙁 🙁
Do we really need a new Information Agency? Can’t we just reuse the stuff our tax dollars paid for last time? It’s not like the truth ever changes, or anything.