Propaganda Machine Tools: Glittering Generalities
There are many words in our language that illicit strong emotions. In name calling the propagandist tries to attach a negative emotional message to what seems like a normal communication. Glittering generalities involves the skillful use of words that already have an emotional message attached to them. Glittering generalities carry a positive emotional message that many people can identify with and at the same time can mean different things to different people. A good example of a glittering generality used by the current propaganda machine is the word Christian. For many people in the United States the word Christian sends a positive emotional message. Even people who don’t participate in organized religious activities or people who have even a small degree of exposure to the fundamentals of Christianity feel emotionally positive about the word Christian. At the same time the word Christian means one thing to me and an entirely different thing to a fundamentalist Christian. A skilled propagandist can use a glittering generality to help win approval for a communication that is non-logical or non-intuitive. A statement like, “ It is the duty of this Christian nation to fight for democracy and freedom” is a good example of the use of glittering generalities. This message can be interpreted in many ways and is cloaked with the glittering generalities; Christian, democracy, and freedom. One only has to turn on the TV or read a newspaper to see glittering generalities being constantly used by the surrogates of the conservative propaganda machine. President Bush’s talking points are filled with them. Their effectiveness lies in how they are able to get all of their surrogates to use the same talking points with the same glittering generalities at the same time. They are then repeated again and again in the willing corporate media. Before long it is almost impossible to separate the issue they are trying to perpetuate from the glittering generalities that have been used to disguise it.