Roseburg, OR and Manipulation

Reading time – 65 seconds  .  .  .

President Obama went to Roseburg, OR to express condolences to the families, friends and their fellow citizens for their losses due to the murderous campus rampage of a killer at their community college. He went to meet privately with families of victims and the surviving victims to let them know of his care and to say that he and the American people were holding those hurting people in our hearts. In light of that, who could voice a complaint?

It turned out that hundreds of people found something to complain about. They came with “OBAMA GO HOME” signs. They came with their disdain and their loaded guns to greet him at the airport. They came with the message that he can’t take their guns. Other than their flagrant disrespect for a man bringing condolences to grieving people, they also came with their perfect ignorance.

The NRA has done a masterful job of propagandizing* gun rights, using the last 7 years to make people believe that President Obama is going to take their guns from them. That would be reasonable if not for the fact (and this is an ACTUAL fact) that President Obama has never spoken a word publicly that could remotely be understood to believe that he wants to do anything of the sort.

He has spoken repeatedly about sensible gun safety laws, like universal background checks so that Crazy Pete down the block can’t legally buy an AK-47 assault rifle. He’s never suggest that you should not be able to own a gun.

He has spoken repeatedly about keeping guns out of the hands of convicted violent felons. Unless that describes you, that sensible proposal would never affect you.

There is no perfect American solution for preventing all gun deaths. There are many solutions for preventing some of them. Should you find yourself a potential target of an angry young white guy who can’t get a date and who is carrying a lifetime of rage and an assault rifle with a huge clip of bullets, that moment might change your mind about access to guns and a partial solution will look pretty good to you.

The one thing that the NRA is supremely good at is propaganda. They wrap themselves up in red, white and blue, proclaim all sorts of sanctimonious, nonsensical blather about rights that has nothing to do with our Constitution and its spokesmen use that to inflame unknowing patriotic people to hate the government. They get people tied up six different ways from Sunday with a proud “Don’t tread on me” appeal to their, “You can’t tell me what to do!” passion and incite them threaten violence upon others.

The NRA has convinced well meaning, independent minded people that the government not only oppresses them now, but that their guns are their only defense against a tyrannical government. The massive sale of firearms and ammunition to citizens that comes of that phony threat creates lots of profit for the firearms industry and they pass some of their millions to their lobbyist, the NRA, to twist the arms of our legislators to their violence enabling desires. That is to say, the NRA’s self-serving manipulation creates a false and impassioned us-them conflict, all for the unnamed purpose of greed.

The downside to that is the sad and tragic list of Americans, over 406,000 since 2001, dead by gun violence.

The good news for the Roseburg protesters is that our Constitution gives people the right to protest (another ACTUAL fact). The bad news is that they have been grievously manipulated to believe that the Constitution is intended to allow everyone – even the crazy and the violent felons – the right to own and use any weapon they want, leaving us all at risk.

Do you believe that a partial solution is a good idea? Then support, campaign and vote for legislators who have the same good sense as you.


*Josef Goebbels, Hitler’s diabolically brilliant chief of propaganda, created a road map for manipulation of public opinion, his Principles of Propaganda. Here are a few that you may find rather similar to the NRA’s actions:

6. To be perceived, propaganda must evoke the interest of an audience and must be transmitted through an attention-getting communications medium.

14 Propaganda must label events and people with distinctive phrases or slogans.

16. Propaganda to the home front must create an optimum anxiety level.

18. Propaganda must facilitate the displacement of aggression by specifying the targets for hatred.


Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.

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2 Responses to Roseburg, OR and Manipulation
  1. Dominick Reply

    Goebbels’ propaganda principles are successfully practiced by politicians and the NRA to emotionally program a number of individuals to live in constant fear that their guns will be taken from them. If you ask some of these people why Obama wants to take away their guns, you may as well ask why they believe the earth is six thousand years old and we were fighting dinosaurs for food.

    Faith-based religious or political beliefs seem to have something in common. It appears that some human minds are just more susceptible to repeated messaging, even if it has no factual evidence to back it up. Even smart and educated people are completely unaware of this insidious form of psychological manipulation. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to evade in our mass media, especially from our corporate news outlets.

  2. Joel altschul Reply

    Jack, you are correct. Check out this week’s New Yorker (10/18) article by Malcolm Gladwell on the relationship among the school shooters and media influence.