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Below are snippets from this week’s news, involving coronavirus and the Tokyo Olympics.

Coronavirus

TikTok is looking for a ‘GP’ to deliver TikTok scripts on coronavirus.

Presumably, the popular Chinese-owned video platform wants to dispel what they consider to be myths and conspiracy theories about the virus and the vaccines.

However, it is unclear whether TikTok are seeking an actual general practitioner — licensed physician — or someone who can impersonate a GP. The pay is £100 per diem.

Here’s the advert, which I saw online in a comments section on another website:

https://image.vuukle.com/f3eecb08-251a-4488-8ed6-566c515e74f7-200525d3-8284-4167-b270-090a30359e17

Then there are the mask snitches. Since July 19, the Government has told us to use common sense in densely populated enclosed spaces, such as trains. There is no longer a Government mandate to wear masks, although transport companies and retailers can request them. They are also a given in clinical environments and in some pharmacies.

One chap tweeted the London Metropolitan Police about the lack of masks on his train the other day. Surely, one would have tweeted the British Transport Police in the first instance. That said, the Met asked for more information. Many Londoners wish they were as responsive to crime reports as they are to missing muzzles:

On the other side of the coronavirus debate, Neil Oliver of GB News voiced his call for freedom from coronavirus restrictions in a powerful broadcast last weekend. He got a lot of criticism from Twitter users:

His colleague Dan Wootton asked him about the blowback. Oliver said that only 20% of the UK population are on Twitter, so they are a minority. He said that the YouTube of his editorial garnered many positive comments. He has also received letters thanking him for his stance, as the average Briton has no public voice. Oliver spoke from his home in Stirling, Scotland:

Meanwhile, in England, former Top Gear star Jeremy Clarkson dispensed common sense in voicing his opinion on SAGE to the Radio Times. The magazine interviewed him for a lockdown edition of his popular Amazon series, The Grand Tour. Clarkson also hosts another well-received Amazon programme, Clarkson’s Farm, in which he is learning how to become a farmer.

The Guardian was horrified at Clarkson’s views on coronavirus: ‘Jeremy Clarkson criticises Covid scientists, saying “if you die, you die”‘.

Excerpts follow from the August 3 article. Emphases mine below (unless stated otherwise):

Now Jeremy Clarkson has opened himself up to more anger after he criticised “those communists at Sage” preventing opening up because, he argues, “if you die, you die.”

The paper could not resist editorialising:

In an interview with the Radio Times, Clarkson gives his views on the pandemic and what should happen next. Many will find his thoughts typically boorish and insensitive.

In his interview with the Radio Times, Clarkson said:

“When it started, I read up on pandemics and they tend to be four years long,” he said.

“I think the politicians should sometimes tell those communists at Sage to get back in their box. Let’s just all go through life with our fingers crossed and a smile on our face. I can see Boris doesn’t want to open it up and shut us back down again. But if it’s going to be four years … and who knows, it could be 40 years.”

Or it could be for ever. “Well, if it’s going to be for ever, let’s open it up and if you die, you die.”

Guido Fawkes saw the coverage …

… and opined (emphasis in the original):

Guido can’t see anything objectionable about his usual no-nonsense, factual, appraisal…

Tokyo Olympics

Clarkson also voiced his views on the Olympics:

Clarkson’s comments come as he was on Monday labelled the “Grand Bore” by, of all publications, the Daily Star. It published on its front page an unflattering photograph of a topless Clarkson and asked: “Why is it the tubs of lard who are so critical of our Olympic heroes?”

That backlash came after a newspaper column in which he dismissed shot putting, diving and dressage as pointless fringe sports. Why do we care, he asked. “Nothing marks out a country’s minor-league standing more effectively than its pride in things that really don’t matter.”

Any MP would tell Clarkson that he is missing the point, because the Olympics are about ‘soft power’. Team GB is currently sixth in the medals table in terms of gold and fourth overall.

These are the first Games in which a trans person, Laurel Hubbard from New Zealand, has participated. You can read all about Hubbard, offspring of a former mayor of Auckland, in the Daily Mail.

Hubbard’s speciality is weightlifting, but that proved to be a damp squib. You can see the short video at Guido Fawkes. Hubbard now wishes to slink into obscurity.

GB News commentator and author Paul Embery, who describes himself as Blue Labour, tweeted about the fact that Hubbard’s participation had to be handled as if one were walking on eggshells:

Guido’s article on Hubbard discusses the sensitivity of the topic of sexual identity and how activists want the media to report it (emphases in the original):

Guido appreciates the BBC has the freedom to be biased towards Team GB, though spots the corporation’s sports voiceover chose to wish the first trans Olympian “all the success” before Laurel Hubbard crashed out of the competition, having failed to lift in any round. They also pityingly said that she’d given her “absolute all”. 

It seems the BBC had been reading from the Olympics’ official guide to wokery; taking their seats, sports reporters found every desk adorned with a “Guide for journalists covering LGBTQ athletes & issues at the summer Olympics and Paralympics”. The guide’s “terms to avoid” section included “Born male/born female. No one is born with a gender identity”. The Telegraph’s Chief Sports Writer Oliver Brown asks how it was allowed to be disseminated at an Olympic venue as a supposedly balanced document…

Guido posted the document, which one can read in full.

I feel sorry for the female New Zealand weightlifter who was next in line and could not participate.

In closing, outside of the rowing, Team GB did a fantastic job in Tokyo. Congratulations!

The Telegraph had two interesting articles on coronavirus at the weekend.

The first is ‘Exclusive: UK vaccine passport plans to be scrapped’. I hope this is true.

Excerpts follow, emphases mine.

For months we have read that the Government is considering then dropping plans for a vaccine passport to be used for attending large events.

The Telegraph‘s article says:

Officials working on the review into Covid-19 status certification believe there is no chance the law will be changed to mandate their use within the UK.

“It’s not a case of ‘it’s finely balanced’. It’s not going to happen,” said one well-placed government source close to the review. “Everyone says it’s dead.”

Israel’s experience appears to have been a factor:

Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister overseeing the review, is yet to submit his recommendations to Mr Johnson. But sources close to both figures say they are instinctively reluctant to adopt the plans.

Furthermore, Israel, the country whose adoption of Covid-19 passports became the template studied closely by the UK (including a trip there from Mr Gove) will drop its “green pass” soon, because so many of its citizens are now vaccinatedThat decision has been carefully noted by ministers.

However, it is still possible that the pass could become a consideration later in the year:

Government ministers may also choose to look again at Covid-19 passports for the autumn and winter, arguing that a sudden deterioration in the Covid situation could see the idea return.

It is also possible that companies might be able to mandate them, particularly for international travel:

A government update on the review in April said there was nothing stopping companies asking for proof of Covid-19 status before granting entry, providing they do not breach equalities laws.

Work on the NHS app, which is being converted to be able to show proof of a jab, negative test or antibodies, is likely to continue, given that it is being used for international travel.

The second Telegraph article is an editorial, ‘How the state used behavioural science to scare a nation into submission’. The author, Laura Dodsworth, wrote a book, A State of Fear, a copy of which was sent to every MP:

donated by a group of concerned people and the Recovery campaign. In a letter to MPs, they described the book as ‘essential reading’ and questioned, as I do, the ethics of fear messaging and behavioural psychology.

Dodsworth rightly takes issue with Boris Johnson’s former special adviser Dominic Cummings’s view that the British people need to be controlled by Government:

Last week we learnt that Dominic Cummings believed the Covid-19 emergency would have benefitted from the “kingly authority” of data scientist, Marc Warner. This is exactly the style of authoritarian, top-down ‘state knows best’ style of government we need to move away from. It does not befit one of the cradles of democracy and the British people deserve better

Back in 2019, Mr Cummings predicted “The future will be about experimental psychology, and data science.” Well, the future is now. And the use of ‘nudge’ to encourage compliance with the rules has changed our lives and our relationships with each other, and irreversibly shifted the social contract between individuals and government.

However, this was already a topic over a decade ago, when Conservatives regained power in coalition with the Liberal Democrats, who are anything but liberal or democrats:

All of this was predicted in the report MINDSPACE: Influencing behaviour through public policy, a Cabinet Office discussion paper from 2010. It warned: 

“People have a strong instinct for reciprocity that informs their relationship with government – they pay taxes and the government provides services in return. This transactional model remains intact if government legislates and provides advice to inform behaviour. But if government is seen as using powerful, pre-conscious effects to subtly change behaviour, people may feel the relationship has changed: now the state is affecting ‘them’ – their very personality.”

The nudge concept came, as most bad ideas do, from the United States, specifically the Obama administration.

Nonetheless, Prime Minister David Cameron instituted a ‘nudge’ unit at the heart of Government, known as SPI-B, which is part of SAGE. The ‘B’ stands for ‘behaviour’. It has been working throughout the coronavirus crisis:

You could argue that frightening people to make them follow the rules during an emergency was in our best interests. But what about the opposing arguments that it affected our personalities, our mental health and our agency?

The insufficiently fearful were deliberately alarmedHorror film styled advertising, laws to manage the minutiae of our daily lives, the most punitive fines since the Dark Ages, encouraging social conformity and the alarmist use of statistics were just some of the government’s tactics during the pandemic, signalling their lack of trust in the public’s ability to understand risk and behave sensibly.

Even children were not exempt from such blame. Indeed, they were explicitly targeted with messaging warning “Don’t kill granny.” This shocking slogan looks even more abhorrent given the allegations that the elderly were not tested before being transferred from hospital to care homes – who killed granny, exactly?

The next ‘nudge’ will probably involve climate change:

If you concede that behavioural science and the weaponisation of fear are acceptable tools for one crisis, will you accept them for the next? One recent report from a team at the University of Bath already shows how behavioural psychologists hope to segue from Covid to climate behaviour change while “habits are weakest and most malleable to change”. ‘Nudge’ is likely to play a bigger part in future government attempts to transform us into model citizens.

One wonders how successful that will be, given that climate change is far from the greatest worry on Britons’ minds at the moment.

It would be helpful to know exactly how much of our taxes go to maintaining the ‘nudge’ unit and the political persuasions of those working in it.

For some time, I have suspected that China was behind the lockdowns in Western nations.

An American attorney and researcher, Michael P Senger, has been researching this topic for months.

On September 15, he reported his findings for Tablet: ‘China’s Global Lockdown Propaganda Campaign’. Please circulate the link amongst your family and friends.

Excerpts follow, emphases mine.

China’s lockdown in mid-January, Senger says, was in accordance with their national policy of fangkong:

the same hybrid of health and security policy that inspired the reeducation and “quarantine” of over 1 million Uighur Muslims “infected with extremism in Xinjiang. The World Health Organization’s representative in China noted that “trying to contain a city of 11 million people is new to science … The lockdown of 11 million people is unprecedented in public health history, so it is certainly not a recommendation the WHO has made.”

The CCP confined 57 million Hubei residents to their homes. At the time, human rights observers expressed concerns. As one expert told The New York Times, “the shutdown would almost certainly lead to human rights violations and would be patently unconstitutional in the United States.”

By the end of the month, Dr Tedros from the WHO praised China for its successful lockdown:

Yet only six days in, the lockdown—“unprecedented in public health history”—had produced no results, so Tedros was praising human rights abuses with nothing to show for them.

Then came the video clips on social media which went viral:

One video purportedly showed a SWAT team catching a man with a butterfly net for removing his mask. But in hindsight, this crisis theater is somewhat comical; in the infamous video, the “spontaneously collapsing” man extends his arms to catch himself.

The Chinese government also issued images showing they were on top of the coronavirus situation:

Official Chinese accounts widely shared an image of a hospital wing supposedly constructed in one day, but which actually showed an apartment 600 miles away.

Remember how China’s cases started declining in February?

Beginning in February, the CCP reported an exponential decline in coronavirus cases, until March 19 when they announced their lockdown had eliminated domestic cases entirely.

After that, there were no more Chinese data forthcoming.

Why anyone thought the Chinese were being truthful is astounding:

The CCP has shaped scientific narratives by consistently promoting the falsehood that “China controlled the virus.” Of course, “China controlled the virus” is a baldfaced lie. China expelled journalists in March and its infection data is manifestly forged; U.S. intelligence has confirmed China’s data is intentionally misrepresented.

Yet, from this, came the push for lockdowns worldwide — along with a campaign against hydroxychloroquine, which, if used early enough and combined with azithromycin or zinc, can alleviate the debilitating symptoms of the virus.

Richard Horton, the editor of The Lancet, even gave an interview to China Central Television:

In a May interview for China Central Television, Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of the esteemed medical journal The Lancet, emphatically praised China’s lockdowns, saying: “It was not only the right thing to do, but it also showed other countries how they should respond in the face of such an acute threat. So, I think we have a great deal to thank China for …”

Horton’s praise is telling in light of the infamous retraction of a Lancet study on hydroxochloroquine and reports that promising journal articles on herd immunity have gone unpublished. In August, Horton doubled down in a full-throated piece that had surprisingly little to do with health:

The “century of humiliation,” when China was dominated by a colonially-minded west and Japan, only came to an end with the Communist victory in the civil war in 1949Every contemporary Chinese leader, including Xi Jinping, has seen their task as protecting the territorial security won by Mao and the economic security achieved by Deng.

Good grief. That explains a lot.

The WHO, not surprisingly, led the way for lockdowns, praising, in their words, the:

uncompromising and rigorous use of non-pharmaceutical measures to contain transmission of the COVID-19 virus in multiple settings

which, the organisation said:

provides vital lessons for the global response.

The New York Times, which, nearly a century ago, praised the Stalin regime, jumped on board the Chinese bandwagon:

China ‘took one of the most ancient strategies and rolled out one of the most ambitious, agile and aggressive disease-containment efforts in history.’

China was ready to promote lockdown via bogus social media accounts:

Within China, the CCP has long paid hundreds of thousands of social media propagandists and also pays for posts on an a la carte basis, totaling hundreds of millions of propaganda comments each year. More recently, these activities have gone global and escalated dramatically during the coronavirus pandemic. Social media companies have proven somewhat unserious about the gravity of the problem. When the State Department provided a sample of 250,000 accounts likely involved in coronavirus disinformation, Twitter refused to take action. These activities affect countries with little say in social media governance; a recent study found thousands of inauthentic accounts still promoting Serbian-Chinese friendship after Twitter deleted thousands of others. A former Facebook employee wrote “I have blood on my hands” due to the company’s routinely discounting malicious political activity despite its “disproportionate impact.”

It should not come as a surprise that Italy was the first European nation to implement lockdown. The country has been a part of China’s expansive Belt and Road Initiative. Many Chinese work in the north making luxury goods, brand names we all know.

The Chinese travelled to Italy to advise:

Chinese experts arrived in Italy on March 12 and two days later advised a tighter lockdown: “There are still too many people and behaviors on the street to improve.” On March 19, they repeated that Italy’s lockdown was “not strict enough,” saying: “Here in Milan, the hardest hit area by COVID-19, there isn’t a very strict lockdown … We need every citizen to be involved in the fight of COVID-19 and follow this policy.”

During that time, China ran a social media propaganda campaign in Italy:

From March 11 to 23, roughly 46% of tweets with the hashtag #forzaCinaeItalia (Go China, go Italy) and 37% of those with the hashtag #grazieCina (thank you China) came from bots.

However, these were not automated bots, as Senger explains. They were fake accounts that were carefully managed:

Social media and analytics companies generally only detect obvious automated activity, while fake, personally managed accounts can be created with ease. This works out well for the CCP, which has always preferred the human touch.

He cites one account which was all about promoting lockdown until George Floyd’s death, at which point the account switched to promoting BLM:

On March 12, Twitter user @manisha_kataki posted a video showing Chinese workers disinfecting streets, apparently admiring China’s strategy: “At this rate, China will be back in action very soon, may be much faster than the world expects.” As The New York Times’ Paul Mozur noted, this tweet was not shocking, funny, or newsworthy, yet it was shared hundreds of thousands of times. This caught the attention of Israeli company Next Dim, which flagged the activity as likely state-sponsored.

Senger has a collage of the user’s tweets, which insulted countries that had not yet adopted lockdown.

That was not the only Twitter account. There were others, which, interestingly, also tweeted about racial division.

Hence, it was a natural progression to go from promoting lockdown to BLM:

Many of these same accounts also frequently discuss racial divisions. Later in 2020, they show strong support for Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests, especially those surrounding the death of George Floyd. Racial justice is an issue of real concern to many citizens, both in America and throughout the world. But knowing that the CCP supported these protests, it’s worth pondering the likelihood that the frugal Xi would not be spending billions of dollars per year on foreign propaganda—and stepping up those activities—if he weren’t seeing results.

Although the aforementioned New York Times article by Paul Mozur caught the attention of Twitter, which suspended 170,000 accounts, Senger says that:

many of the suspect accounts are still active, and a search for hundreds of similar examples can be easily repeated with one click.

State and national leaders who were late to lock down, never did lock down or lifted their restrictions came under China’s Twitter fire via these accounts:

When South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem famously refused to issue a statewide lockdown, suspicious accounts began filling her Twitter feed with abuse and graphic language to pressure her to do so.

Kristi Noem stood her ground and never locked down South Dakota.

Georgia’s governor Brian Kemp was the first to lift a state lockdown. When Kemp honoured the late Rep John Lewis, he received a barrage of abuse on Twitter:

conspicuous, vulgar language that often invoked his anti-lockdown stance.

Senger alleges that Boris Johnson was a target of Chinese propaganda which ended up with him locking down the UK:

Initially, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also opted for herd immunity. But on March 13, suspicious accounts began storming his Twitter feed and likening his plan to genocide. This language almost never appears in Johnson’s feed before March 12, and several of the accounts were hardly active before then. Britain locked down on March 23.

I have wondered why Sweden took the wise decision not to implement a lockdown. It turns out there is a disagreement between Sweden and China:

Sweden’s skepticism toward the CCP predates COVID-19. In January, Beijing threatened Swedish trade ties over an award given to Gui Congyou, a Swedish publisher detained in China. Sweden did not back down and later refused to follow China’s lockdown model, opting for a herd immunity strategy. Thus, Sweden became a prime target of a Chinese campaign portraying it as weak against the COVID threat.

The account names and trending hashtags fit with the targeted nations to sound plausible. Italy had the aforementioned #forzaCinaeItalia. The United States had @AmerLiberal as one of the CCP-sponsored accounts:

@AmerLiberal, appears to be a model CCP propaganda account, showing strong support for China’s human rights abuses—including in Xinjiang and Hong Kong—and antipathy for China’s key rivals, India and the United States. The account strongly supports global lockdowns.

Conservative Americans have known for some time China has been funding certain US research programmes:

For decades, the CCP has co-opted scientists through its unparalleled overseas influence network, the United Front Work Department, which expanded dramatically under Xi. In June, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced that 189 of its grantees had received undisclosed funding from foreign governments. In 93% of cases, including that of Charles Lieber, chair of Harvard’s chemistry department, the undisclosed funding came from China. Likewise, the National Science Foundation, a smaller organization, reported 16–20 cases of undisclosed foreign financial ties; all but two were with China.

Michael P Senger has a Twitter feed, which is also worth reading.

On the ties to China and related propaganda, here are tweets from an informative thread of his:

I had not seen that video until today. That said, in April or May, the BBC News channel ran regular reports from China around dinnertime in the UK. One young couple interviewed said, whilst smiling, that the lockdown, which had ended by then, showed that the Chinese government cared about its people and that the restrictions were for ‘health’ and the common good. Of course!

Here is a collage of CCP-sponsored tweets:

Many countries have them, including France.

Some might wonder about the severe lockdown in Victoria State, Australia, best known for the city of Melbourne. This tweet has a collage of Australian tweets thanking Victoria’s governor, Dan Andrews. Senger’s text reads:

Andrews’ long-time staffer attended a high-level CCP academy. An MP leading Andrews’ Belt & Road negotiations with Beijing lauded China’s handling of COVID.

That explains a lot, too.

Bill Gates also approves of strict lockdowns that violate civil liberties (see second tweet):

Oh. My. Word.

I rather liked this short exchange after the thread:

That means us.

So, please be sociable and circulate Michael P Senger’s links and tweets. Thank you.

In researching the Vietnam War, I ran across an article that British-American journalist Robert Elegant, born in 1928, wrote for the magazine Encounter.

Elegant — what a marvellous name — was born in New York City and spent most of his journalistic career in Asia. He covered the Korean and Vietnam Wars and has a keen knowledge of China and its culture, supplemented earlier by a Masters in Far Eastern Studies from Columbia University. He has won several awards during his career. He currently divides his time between London and Italy and still travels to the Far East.

Elegant’s article is entitled ‘How to Lose A War: The Press and Viet Nam’ (Encounter (London), vol. LVII, No. 2, August 1981, pp. 73-90). Below are excerpts; reading the article in full is highly recommended for his insight into the media spin, borne of ignorance, on this war.

If you read only one post in my Vietnam series, this is it. This is especially important for parents and guardians to pass along to children. I also recommend it to teachers and lecturers, provided they can position it such that they do not incur the wrath of their notional superiors.

Emphases mine below.

The Vietnam War was unique:

For the first time in modern history, the outcome of a war was determined not on the battlefield but on the printed page and, above all, on the television screen.

Who won?

Looking back coolly, I believe it can be said (surprising as it may still sound) that South Vietnamese and American forces actually won the limited military struggle. They virtually crushed the Viet Cong in the South, the “native” guerrillas who were directed, reinforced, and equipped from Hanoi; and thereafter they threw back the invasion by regular North Vietnamese divisions. Nonetheless, the war was finally lost to the invaders after the U.S. disengagement because the political pressures built up by the media had made it quite impossible for Washington to maintain even the minimal material and moral support that would have enabled the Saigon regime to continue effective resistance.

As for knock-on effects to the 1981 — when Elegant wrote the article — we can probably safely add on later conflicts to the present day:

It is, however, interesting to wonder whether Angola, Afghanistan, and Iran would have occurred if Saigon had not fallen amid nearly universal odium—that is to say, if the “Viet Nam Syndrome,” for which the press (in my view) was largely responsible, had not afflicted the Carter Administration and paralyzed American will. On the credit side, largely despite the press, the People’s Republic of China would almost certainly not have purged itself of the Maoist doctrine of “worldwide liberation through people’s war” and, later, would not have come to blows with Hanoi if the defense of South Viet Nam had not been maintained for so long.

The media reporting on Vietnam were a ‘brotherhood’ which had already chosen which side they were on. Their reporting was also for their fellow journalists:

In my own personal experience most correspondents wanted to talk chiefly to other correspondents to confirm their own mythical vision of the war. Even newcomers were precommitted, as the American jargon has it, to the collective position most of their colleagues had already taken. What I can only call surrealistic reporting constantly fed on itself, and did not diminish thereby, but swelled into ever more grotesque shapes. I found the process equally reprehensible for being in no small part unwitting.

In part, this was because:

Most correspondents were isolated from the Vietnamese by ignorance of their language and culture, as well as by a measure of race estrangement. Most were isolated from the quixotic American Army establishment, itself often as confused as they themselves were, by their moralistic attitudes and their political prejudices.

However, the journalists also wanted to protect their jobs and wrote accordingly:

After each other, correspondents wrote to win the approbation of their editors, who controlled their professional lives and who were closely linked with the intellectual community at home. The consensus of that third circle, the domestic intelligentsia, derived largely from correspondents’ reports and in turn served to determine the nature of those reports. If dispatches did not accord with that consensus, approbation was withheld. Only in the last instance did correspondents address themselves to the general public, the mass of lay readers and viewers.

Ironically, given this state of affairs, journalists, Elegant contends, could be compared to the soldiers whom they were criticising:

A tour in Viet Nam was almost essential to promotion for a U.S. Regular Army officer, and a combat command was the best road to rapid advancement. Covering the biggest continuing story in the world was not absolutely essential to a correspondent’s rise, but it was an invaluable cachet. Quick careers were made by spectacular reporting of the obvious fact that men, women, and children were being killed; fame or at least notoriety rewarded the correspondent who became part of the action—rather than a mere observer—by influencing events directly.

Journalists, particularly those serving in television, were therefore, like soldiers, “rotated” to Viet Nam. Few were given time to develop the knowledge, and indeed the intellectual instincts, necessary to report the war in the round. Only a few remained “in country” for years, though the experienced Far Eastern correspondents visited regularly from Hong Kong, Singapore, and Tokyo. Not surprisingly, one found that most reporting veered farther and farther from the fundamental political, economic, and military realities of the war, for these were usually not spectacular. Reporting Viet Nam became a closed, self-generating system sustained largely by the acclaim the participants lavished on each other in almost equal measure to the opprobrium they heaped on “the Establishment,” a fashionable and very vulnerable target.

Ignorance and spin were not germane only to American journalists:

For some journalists, perhaps most, a moment of truth through self-examination was never to come. The farther they were from the real conflict, the more smugly self-approving they now remain as commentators who led the public to expect a brave new world when the North Vietnamese finally “liberated” South Viet Nam. Even those correspondents who today gingerly confess to some errors or distortions usually insist that the true fault was not theirs at all, but Washington’s. The enormity of having helped in one way or another to bring tens of millions under grinding totalitarian rule—and having tilted the global balance of power—appears too great to acknowledge. It is easier to absolve one’s self by blaming exclusively Johnson, Nixon, and Kissinger.

I found few American correspondents to be as tough-minded as one Briton I knew who was very close to the action for many years in the employ of an American wire-news service. “I’m ashamed of most of what I wrote in Viet Nam,” he told me recently. “But I was a new boy, and I took my lead from the Americans, who were afire with the crusading spirit of ’60s journalism—the involvement, man, in the good fight. When I look at what’s happened now, I’m ashamed of my ignorance—and what I helped to do to the Vietnamese….”

Only journalists who knew recent history of Southeast Asia could see through Hanoi’s (North Vietnam’s capital) propaganda:

We knew that, in 1956, close to 50,000 peasants were executed in North Viet Nam. We knew that after the division of the country nearly one million North Vietnamese had fled to the South. Many of us have seen the tortured and carved-up bodies of men, women, and children executed by the Viet Cong in the early phases of the war. And many of us saw, in 1968, the mass graves of Hue, saw the corpses of thousands of civilians still festively dressed for Tet, the Vietnamese New Year.

But:

Why, for heaven’s sake, did we not report about these expressions of deliberate North Vietnamese strategy at least as extensively as of the My Lai massacre and other such isolated incidents that were definitely not part of the U.S. policy in Viet Nam?

Therefore:

I think at least a little humility would be in order for us old Viet Nam hands. . . .

And let us not confuse coyness on their part with humility:

the media have been rather coy; they have not declared that they played a key role in the conflict. They have not proudly trumpeted Hanoi’s repeated expressions of gratitude to the mass media of the non-Communist world, although Hanoi has indeed affirmed that it could not have won “without the Western press.” The Western press appears either unaware of the direct connection between cause (its reporting) and effect (the Western defeat in Viet Nam), or strangely reluctant to proclaim that the pen and the camera proved decisively mightier than the bayonet and ultra-modern weapons …

Any searching analysis of fundamental premises has remained as unthinkable to “the critics” as it was during the fighting. They have remained committed to the proposition that the American role in Indochina was totally reprehensible and inexcusable, while the North Vietnamese role—and, by extension, the roles of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia and the Pathet Lao in Laos—was righteous, magnanimous, and just. Even the growing number who finally deplored the repressive consequences of the totalitarian victory could not bring themselves to re-examine the premises that led them to contribute so decisively to those victories.

Television reinforced the media’s perspective:

At any given moment, a million images were available to the camera’s lens in Saigon alone—and hundreds of million throughout Indochina. But TV crews naturally preferred the most dramatic. That, after all, was their business—show business. It was not news to film farmers peacefully tilling their rice fields, though it might have been argued that nothing happening was news when the American public had been led to believe that almost every Vietnamese farmer was regularly threatened by the Viet Cong, constantly imperiled by battle, and rarely safe from indiscriminate U.S. bombing.

If I might interject here, this is exactly what I thought as a child. My parents tried to explain otherwise, but there it was on the news every night. Television couldn’t lie. Could it?

But television could “prove” either a negative or a positive proposition—depending on where the camera pointed and upon the correspondent’s inclination.

The military was unhappy with the nature of the reporting. It seemed as if Vietnam were two wars — one which the armed forces were fighting and the second on which the journalists reported:

Sgt. John Ashe (brother of the world-famous tennis player) was a Marine assigned to public relations duties. He delivered a biting indictment of the young wire-service correspondents and the “war freaks” who frequented Da Nang (which was a remote outpost to the media, though not to the military). They would, he recalled, rarely go into the field and never spend the night when they did; would deport themselves as if they had never heard a shot fired with intent to kill before that moment—to their own and the Marines’ peril; and then file stories that “bore little or no relation” to what he—and they—had seen. They didn’t want to know, Ashe added, what was really happening in the First Corps Area, where the Marines had winkled out the Viet Cong by stationing squads in villages.

The media’s opposition to the Establishment — government, principally — was so strong that anything the administration or military said was thought to be a lie. Only the Communists were seen to be honest:

A faulty syllogism was unconsciously accepted: Washington was lying consistently; Hanoi contradicted Washington; therefore Hanoi was telling the truth.

Communists, not surprisingly, had set up this faulty syllogism:

The initial inclination to look upon Hanoi as a fount of pure truth was intelligently fostered by the Communists, who selectively rewarded “critics of the American war” with visas to North Viet Nam.

These famous ‘critics’ included celebrities, among them Jane Fonda:

A number of influential journalists and public figures (ranging from former cabinet officers to film actresses) were feted in North Viet Nam. They were flattered not only by the attention and the presumed inside information proffered by the North Vietnamese but by their access to a land closed to most Americans.

Running like lemmings, they were — and what Elegant writes in the next paragraph is especially true; you can still read it from readers of left-wing sites such as the Daily Kos:

The favored few—and the aspiring many—helped establish a climate in which it was not only fashionable but, somehow, an act of courage to follow the critical crowd in Saigon and Washington while praising Hanoi. The skeptical correspondent risked ostracism by his peers and conflicts with his editors if he did not run with “the herd of independent minds,” if he did not support the consensus.

Historically — and even among the left-wing peace proponents, there was a respect for war, especially the Great War and the Second World War. The Korean War was seen as just about acceptable, including from a media perspective.

Just not the Vietnam War. This is why I say that the Communist and Marxist propaganda machine worked very well during that time:

World War II was generally considered a crusade against evil …

The Korean War was not a universal crusade …  Moved neither by basic antagonism towards official aims nor by unthinking commitment to those aims, a surprisingly youthful press corps offered surprisingly objective reports. Aside from a marked weakness in covering internal politics in both the South and the North—a weakness that presaged a disastrous disability in Indochina—Korea was, in my view, the best-covered American war of modern times. Besides, the conflict was, by and large, straightforward and simple to understand.

Elegant states that, as far as the Vietnam War was concerned, this part of the world, its history and its place in the Cold War were difficult to understand, ‘arcane’ at times, especially for the general public. However, he observes that the media did not help lift that cloud of ignorance for them.

Getting back to journalistic ignorance, the glaring lack of knowledge about the nature of war  (somehow — didn’t any of these people learn world history at school?) manifested itself in coverage of Vietnam:

Most, as I have noted, knew little about war in general from either experience or study—and less about the theory or practice of guerrilla war.

And, let’s not forget Marxist theory:

Since so many were also untroubled by acquaintance with Marxist theory or practice and were hazy about the international balance of power, they were incapable of covering effectively a conflict involving all those elements.

Therefore:

As long as the “Viet Nam Syndrome” afflicts the media, it seems to me that it will be virtually impossible for the West to conduct an effective foreign policy.

And this, I believe, is what James Higham was saying recently at Orphans of Liberty in his post on Vietnam (which I cited yesterday), which alluded to the United Nations and the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).

Unfortunately, and I believe Elegant is correct:

It is possible that the “Viet Nam Syndrome” will recur; it is not unlikely that Western foreign policy, with the United States as its faltering—or even resurgent—leader, will again be forced to operate in an environment dominated by a hostile press.

This is yet another reason why it is so important to understand history, even — perhaps especially — ‘difficult’ conflicts such as the Vietnam War.

Whilst researching the post on the Browder family, I ran across an issue of Solanka, the publication of the old United Communist Party (UCP) in the US.

In fact, this issue would have appeared around the same time the late, one-time party chief Earl Browder received his membership.

Out of curiosity, I read through it and was struck by its aggressiveness, which Bella Dodd explored in detail in her memoir School of Darkness.

If anyone thinks Communism is a ‘nice’ and ‘compassionate’ way of thinking or governing, ask them how they would like to receive the following, typical of the rest of Solanka.

The following excerpted meeting minutes are dated August 14, 1920 (pp. 5 and 6). Note the focus on money, organisation and seeming disregard for Party members as people.

Also observe how much it sounds like a hostile office memo one might receive today. It could have been subtitled ‘Pull a finger out, idiots’.

Did we get our love of corporate acronyms (see last line of memo) from the Commies? I wonder.

In any case, I found this so absolutely frightful I couldn’t resist sharing it with you.

Emphases mine below except for words in caps and italics:

TO ALL MEMBERS OF THE UCP.

Comrades:-

Your CEC has just had a meeting. Here’s an account of its decisions and actions.

Information of this character will no longer be published in the Official Organ [The Communist], but will be sent you in Bulletins like this. After reading to the group members, destroy the Bulletin.

VERY special information will not even be published in Bulletins, but conveyed verbally through organizers. Unless you attend EVERY group meeting you may miss something important. Moral: BE THERE.

Still more important is it for your organizers and committeemen to attend all committee meetings. If any refuse to do this, fire them, and put comrades on the job who’ll attend to business.

Here are several specific matters for your action:—

Soviet Russia Resolution. The last page of this Bulletin contains a resolution for support of Soviet Russia. Bring it before your unions.

Raise Defense Funds.The Party has accepted proposition from the National Defense Committee. Dispose of as many Defense stamps as you can to outsiders. Push collection of Defense Fund among non-members in every way you can think of, so that regular receipts can be used for organization work. Forward all funds collected BY MEMBERS through the regular Party channels, whether from stamps or lists.

$50,000 Organization Fund.The tremendous campaign mapped out by your CEC is based on expectation that you will raise the $50,000 Fund necessary to carry it through. Remember that EVERY group should raise $50, or $5 per member, by September 1st [1920].

Intensive Propaganda. There are in this country at least 100,00 Left Wing Socialists and IWWs whom it is perfectly safe for you to approach with Communist message.Your CEC can not do this. Neither can your organizers. This is a task that You Yourselves must do. For this purpose every member is requested to take 5 copies of each issue of the Official Organ in English or some other language. If possible pay for them in advance. Then sell or give them away. The Party can not afford to distribute this free, except 1 copy to every member. But by this plan you can start a vast propaganda campaign at once. Surely there is not a single member who can not do this: Pick out 5 people to whom it is safe for you to talk. Keep after them with each issue until they are ready for membership in the UCP.

Reports and Orders.Your group organizer must make financial reports at least twice a month. Ours can be “a party of action” only if YOU act. See to it that he has something to report from you each time. Tell him exactly how many copies of each language organ to order for you on the requisition blank that he has for this purpose. Only if your group does this systematically can your District Organizer make proper orders and reports to the National Office.

Kicks. If papers you order do not reach you, please KICK to the higher party units until they come through. If we do not hear you holler we take it for granted that all papers and literature reach you OK.

Remember, Comrades: Our Communist Movement is just what YOU make it. Up and AT IT.

Yours in Revolt,

The CEC of the UCP.

The other day I featured excerpts from an article by Toby Westerman, editor-in-chief and publisher of International News Analysis (INA) Today.

In another column, ‘Weapons of Thought Destruction’ dated February 23, 2010, Westerman describes how leftist propaganda works and why conservative counterpoints are denounced.  Emphases mine below.

The tools which the Moscow elite use are as current as the Internet and YouTube, and their goal is as old as Lenin and the Bolsheviks …

Most “experts” continue to approach Moscow as a work in progress, a regime needing only the right words to produce a responsible, peaceful actor on the world stage.

Yet, blind eyes are being turned toward a series of threatening developments to which the “experts” pay little public attention and discuss even less. These include the Moscow-Beijing military/political alliance; Moscow’s aid to not only Iran but also to Syria and North Korea; and the support – even inside Russia as well as in Latin America — for the Venezuelan Marxist dictator, Hugo Chavez.

The blindness toward the Moscow ruling elite is no accident, but is carefully orchestrated and cultivated within the Kremlin itself.

Westerman then describes the tactics the Kremlin uses around the world, particularly in the West.  When you read it, does it remind you of the BBC or the major networks in the US and other Western countries?  Interestingly, the propaganda still runs in much the same way as Yuri Bezmenov described it in the 1980s.  Westerman explains:

As in the Soviet era, the Moscow elite are employing a multi-layered approach to internal and external political manipulation.

Coordinating these efforts is the Main Department of Domestic Politics, an “independent subunit” of Russia’s presidential administration, which oversees a vast and intricate web of local governments, political parties, and think tanks.

From the Main Department, Russia’s elite can both form opinion and then poll it, i.e., analyze what they have created.

These analyses of concocted public opinion, based upon manufactured information in a controlled news environment, are then fed to Western, and especially American, “experts” who then form their own assessments based upon Moscow’s predetermined strategies.

These “experts” publish in learned periodicals, which are then cited by a host of journalists and pundits in front page articles and editorials across the nation.

In this way, alternative views are quickly dismissed as extreme or uninformed.

Just as Lenin in the early 20th century embraced the emerging film industry, today’s Kremlin elite attempt to use the Internet (liberty.ru, and others) and You Tube to spread their propaganda.

Certain journalists have been offered money to reprint articles, and English-language websites occasionally appear which spread the targeted message of the Russian elite.

Those deemed as “experts,” or who are recognized as opinion makers, receive special attention.

The Valdai Discussion Club, founded in 2004 by then-president Vladimir Putin, hosts annual meetings with Russian experts around the world, especially from the United States and Europe. Former ambassadors, editors and journalists from influential news organizations, and top personnel from influential think tanks, speak directly with top Russian government and business leaders and gain unique insights from these exclusive contacts.

These insights, however, are contoured to the priorities of the Moscow elite.

Propaganda and the self-loathing American

In another of Westerman’s articles, ‘Birth of the Anti-American American’, he traces the history and impact of Soviet propaganda techniques in the United States.

America did not always produce citizens who loathed the nation and identified with mass murders and dictators. The America-hating elite of the Obama administration is part of an ongoing process to turn America against itself.

It is a process which also produces a nexus of propaganda and espionage. The two are never far apart …

Until around 1920, the United States of America was the universally acknowledged land of opportunity and beacon of freedom to the world. While certainly not perfect, America stood out proudly from the social chaos and dictatorial regimes which held sway over much of the earth.

While the promise of America made life more difficult for oppressive political elites around the world, only one dictatorial leader decided to take action …

Shortly after the communist seizure of power in Russia in 1917, Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin commissioned a tough fellow revolutionary, Willi Münzenberg, to establish a propaganda network in the West, with the United States as one of its prime targets.

… the “masses” must be led by those who demonstrate correct thinking, and, in 1902, he published What is to be Done?, in which he advocated revolution led by an uncompromising elite. Lenin had implicitly broken with Marx’s idea of inevitable class insurrection …

The uninformed “masses” must be guided

Along with political elitism, Lenin demanded that religion, if it was allowed to exist, would serve the state. Today’s socialists/communists around the world similarly seek religious submission to the demands of government. In the United States, the attack on personal conscience regarding abortion is one example of socialism demanding primacy over belief …

Both Lenin and Münzenberg were keenly aware of the power of the emerging media, especially the development of film presentations. Münzenberg’s network quickly grew and spread into the United States. Lenin’s revolution and policies were presented in the best light possible – mass murders and imprisonments were ignored – and anti-communist governments were assailed.

In the United States, Münzenberg’s network worked to attack every social defect. The admittedly flawed 1920 murder trial of two Italian born anarchists, Fernando Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, became the vehicle for the first truly world-wide anti-American propaganda campaign …

The Münzenberg network worked unceasingly to tarnish the image of the United States around the world, and when Sacco and Vanzetti were execution in 1927, riots erupted from London to Tokyo. America’s beacon of freedom now shone less brightly.

Münzenberg’s propaganda empire made him the “Red Millionaire.” His financial success and influential communist propaganda, however, earned him enemies in western Europe and Josef Stalin’s Soviet Union. Münzenberg was murdered by person or persons unknown in France in 1940. The propaganda machine founded by Münzenberg, however, outlived him, and took on a life of its own

The most damaging aspect of Lenin’s attack on the United States is what is referred to a as “The Politics of Self-Loathing,” in Lies, Terror, and the Rise of the Neo-Communist Empire: Origins and Direction. In many ways Lenin’s anti-American propaganda has become part of American life.

Generations of literary, film, and theater artists, as well as academics, school teachers, and journalists have accepted and propagated the line of hostility to America which extends back to Lenin and his revolutionary elitism.

This anti-American campaign also produced individuals willing to injure the security of the United States in favor of Communist powers

More recently, anti-American propaganda enabled Communist Cuban recruiters to obtain the services of Ana Belen Montes, an influential Defense Department Analyst, who admitted in 2001 that she was spying for Cuba, and Walter Kendall Myers, a State Department veteran, and his wife, Gwendolyn, who plead guilty in 2009 to serving Cuban intelligence for thirty years.

The similarity of the anti-American theme is striking: the U.S. is the source of the world’s problems, society must be transformed with wealth spread more equitably, all opposition must be silenced, and God must be banished from the market place of ideas. It began with Lenin, initially propagated by Münzenberg, and continues to this day.

The theme of America, a land of racism and greed, as the perpetrator of evil around the world is an accepted secular gospel to many Americans. To protect the world, some “liberals” advocate the surrender of American sovereignty to an all-powerful world Socialist/Communist government.

God, the necessary author of all “human rights,” has been ejected from nearly all political discussion, and all reference to social morality, which underpins everything we do as a nation.

Because most private and public schools are more interested in advocating “politically correct” modes of thinking than teaching even an elementary knowledge of America and its past , many young adults share “liberal” misconceptions about our nation, its institutions, and history

The necessary truth is that all “human rights” come from the God who loves us — what the state gives, the state can take away. Absolute “rights” can come only from an absolute authority – God. The state is a necessary evil which must be kept within strict bounds.

Think of it.  Every time your children watch television or go to the cinema, they receive a (sometimes benign — even worse) dose of anti-Americanism. Every time they sit down in a classroom, they learn more about America’s failings than successes.

I know a number of teachers in primary and secondary schools — state as well as church-affiliated — in the US and England who are ashamed to be European and believe that the Left is correct on all these points.  They learn this at university as well as at teacher-training days. They read ‘important’ left-leaning publications (e.g. New York Times, The Economist), which also help to shape their thinking.

However, we cannot leave the blame exclusively with teachers and the media.  As you know, we are all affected by these influences from news, books and film.  As my better half says, ‘Take it in but don’t be taken in by it.’

That said, please ensure you spread the word about the manipulative and false media messages we receive.  Most people are unaware of their history.

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