---Ralph Waldo Emerson
When I taught tenth grade English, I included a unit on propaganda, hoping my students would learn how to avoid it. I hope they learned well, because there is no avoiding it during this election cycle. Even the most honest of candidates use it to make their point. "Cherry picking" the truth is a technique that encourages the candidate to only tell the parts of the truth that benefit their point of view. Whenever candidates speak, and "fact-check" follows up on them, most of what they say falls into the half-truth category.
Flag-waving has been used consistently during this campaign, and it is frankly driving me crazy. Stop telling me that in order to be a "real" patriot I have to do things your way. You are simply trying to justify your actions, and if they are so in need of justification, perhaps they need to be changed.
How about the good old "loaded language" trick? The candidates and their spokespeople are using words with strong emotional appeal to sway us to their way of thinking. Somehow we feel that it is more important to support a "reform" than a "change." Or using "guilt by association" when a pundit compares an action of a candidate as "Hitler-like" or saying a candidate is "Lucifer in the flesh."
Come on America, don't be fooled by a politician's use of propaganda. Don't "jump on any candidate's bandwagon" without making sure it is going to take you exactly where you want to go. Emerson had it right when he told us to go where there is no path and leave our own. If we jump to follow the person with the best use of propaganda, we may find ourselves sadly in need of a better path before we know it.
The legal profession's use of propaganda is a close second to the politician's use of these techniques. The Wrong Man by David Ellis takes us into the world of defense attorney Jason Kolarich and the wrongly accused veteran that he is trying to successfully defend. I love reading courtroom thrillers that allow me to hunt for the use of propaganda as I follow the lawyers presentations of their cases. Ellis does a great job in building strong characters and allowing them to drive a great story.
The other book that I greatly enjoyed this week is The Girl From Home by Adam Mitzner. When hedge fund operator Jonathan Caine's world starts to fall apart, he seeks solace in his hometown. When he runs into Jackie, the girl who in high school took his heart without ever knowing his name, he is thrilled to see that she is still beautiful, kind but unfortunately married to an abusive former football hero. Jonathan's relationship with Jackie builds until they are placed in a position where they have to have total trust in each other to survive. Mitzner is a strong writer who never disappoints, and this book is definitely one of his winners.
As always, complete reviews of these books follow this blog.