Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Far-Right Propaganda Creeping into News Stories

One of the tactics the far-right has used for years is to repeat the same phrases so often that they eventually acquire a negative connotation. We know that happened with the word "liberal," but there is a host of others, including referring to the Democratic Party as "the Democrat Party," a grammatically incorrect construction.

Some of the phrases become so familiar to far-right extremists that they carry special meaning that others don't immediately pick up on, referred to as "dog whistle" politics. Sometimes, people have heard them so often that they start to use them even if they don't agree with the coded message.

One of the words that has become burdened with negative meanings is "government." Far-right extremists use it instead of "public," as in "government schools" instead of "public schools."

Americans For Prosperity, for example, has tried to smear the prospect of a public bridge over the Detroit River between Michigan and Canada by calling it a "government" bridge.

And now the Detroit Free Press's Dawson Bell appears to have joined in, referring to the bridge proposed by the state of Michigan and the Canadian government as a "government-sponsored bridge" rather than a public bridge.

It's a subtle difference, but an important one. The Free Press should let opponents of the publicly-owned bridge pay for their own propaganda, rather than spread it for them.

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