Propaganda Machine Tools: Name Calling
The first and one of the most effective tools of the propaganda trade is in the category of word games. “Name calling” is a powerful tool. A skillfully attached bad name can sometimes have nation changing consequences. If a negative emotional response can be attached or linked to a person or an idea in the form of a bad name, there is almost an unbreakable non-logical, non-intuitive association. It is almost impossible to remove the bad name attachment if it has been skillfully propagated. Skillful propaganda involves sustained repetition in the media. There must also be repetition that includes both the bad name and the events or circumstances that supposedly precipitated its creation. Once the link between the event or circumstance is established, the negative emotional association becomes part of the name itself. From that point forward it is only necessary to use the bad name and the negative emotional response is automatically activated. Repetition in the media then spreads the name to the point where it self-replicates itself through conversations and debates between ordinary citizens.
A more subtle form of name calling uses emotionally charged words in descriptions or characterizations. For example, Democratic candidates are always being called “tax and spenders,” while the Republicans characterize themselves as “fiscally conservative.” The GOP propaganda machine has been able to attach the “tax and spend” label to the Democrats, so that regardless of the facts, the emotional response is to conjure up visions of people who first take your money and then spend it foolishly. The GOP, the right wing conservatives, and the Christian fundamentalists combined with a willing media have used both overt name calling and subtle emotionally charged characterizations with a devastating effect. Their propaganda machine was able to turn a war hero into an unpatriotic war protester who helped the enemy and hurt our troops. They turned non-issues into issues and issues into non-issues. Their ability to use overt name calling and emotionally charged characterizations to perpetuate their agenda is almost completely unchecked.