In a struggle to be happy and free

Drystone Wall

Category: propaganda Page 5 of 6

Lies indeed

With a mix of incredulity and amusement, I read a few reports on the press conference China’s Ambassador to Canada, Lu Shumin, held earlier today. The CTV story has the most meat, but I was quite surprised at the CBC report. In the story, the writer quotes the Ambassador:

People in the West [see] the Dalai Lama as some sort of angel, some sort figure of peace, but look at Tibet before [the Chinese invasion in] 1949, before 1959, and you’ll find out what the Dalai Lama was, what he still is.

The lefty CBC must’ve been close to melting down with trying to decide between being nice and including a jab or two when reporting on the Ambassador’s accusing the Dalai Lama of being behind the Tibetan unrest. I agree with the slant of what appears in the second set of brackets, but I’m surprised to see it, none the less.

Remember my writing about how ridiculously awkward the Chinese media comes across in the West? China’s Ambassador to Canada is no better.

I couldn’t help myself. I wrote him an e‑mail message:

From: Rick Pali <rpali@alienshore.com>
Date: March 26, 2008 11:37:41 PM GMT-04:00
To: chinaemb_ca@mfa.gov.cn
Subject: The ‘Lhasa Unrest’ news conference

Mr. Shumin,

I read a number of news reports about the press conference you held earlier today.

My first thought is that you desperately need to gain some media savvy. You stand up in front of the camera and accuse a beloved figure of having lied for decades? Even if your charge were true, the way you’re going about will make sure you fail. I’ve heard plenty of talk of proof from you, your government, and the Chinese media (which is the government again), but I’ve seen no proof. None.

Further, on Monday you claimed the Dalai Lama was a slave owner. Perhaps the carefully controlled news in China would make these claims easily believable, but things are different outside your borders. What I read of your clumsy press conference was amusing and not at all convincing.

You’ve got your work cut out for you if you want to prevent further damage to China’s international reputation. Best of luck. You’ll need it with the Chinese government acting the way it does.

Rick.

In the spirit of China’s openness, the Chinese Embassy to Canada’s web site doesn’t provide an e‑mail address. If course it’s not hard to dig up, but it seems appropriate from a government that wants only to be heard and obeyed. Listening is only used as a means to target their laughably ineffective damage-control.

Daily propaganda, fresh from the government

Boing Boing quoted a number of bloggers and news sources about the unrest in Tibet. Particularly interesting was the report of a reader named Adam who was (is?) there. Adam writes,

The China Daily newspaper I grabbed from the lounge has a small article on the bottom of the front page, titled “Dalai Lama behind sabotage”, and states that his “clique” has “organized, premeditated, and masterminded” the beatings, looting, and arson, which “has aroused the indignation of, and is strongly condemned by, the people of all ethnic groups in Tibet.”

Seriously? I’ve seen press-releases run as news stories, or thinly veiled opinion-pieces run as news, but this really takes the cake. There’s nothing thinly veiled about this.

Curious, I looked up the China Daily and am still quite surprised that the above quote barely hints at how plainly manipulative the Chinese press is. Not only that, but it’s remarkably obvious and ham-fisted in the way it attempts to manipulate the public.

The first China Daily story about Tibet I see linked from their homepage is titled “Dalai coterie’s secessionist attempts doomed to fail.” Is it doomed to fail because of something the article’s author discovered after some crack investigative reporting? Of course not. It’s doomed to fail because the government says so. The lead paragraph does not sum up the core of the story, as is typical in a western news story. Remarkably thin of facts, the lead spares no time shoveling on the propaganda:

Memories of horror were alive again. Rioting that erupted in Lhasa on Friday resembled two previous riots in 1959 and 1989, only in its cruelty and always indisputable links to peace-preaching Dalai Lama.

You can bet that when the government doesn’t give the facts and instead claims their conclusions are indisputable, the conclusion can certainly be disputed, or is a complete fabrication.

Thank goodness the government forces are there to take care of the people.

Throughout the incident, Lhasa police officers exercised great restraint. They remained patient, professional and were instructed not to use force. In humanitarian spirit, they even rescued the malicious monks who attempted sensation through hurting themselves. But such restraint was met with even more malice.

I’ve read reports of more than ten thousand Chinese troops entering Tibet. Goodness knows they’ll need overwhelming numbers if they’re not using force. They’re all such nice guys though:

Young officers — fathers, husbands and brothers — were stoned, lunged, stabbed and clubbed, like any other innocent victim. Twelve of them were badly injured, two of them critical.

I can almost hear songs of togetherness, self-sacrifice, and protecting the motherland.

It gets worse, however. The author of the article isn’t credited, likely because of his or her weak grasp on reality.

It has been the common understanding of the international community that Tibet is an inseparable part of China. No country in the world recognizes the so-called “Tibetan government-in-exile”. The series of farces and sabotages by the Dalai clique were strongly opposed by the international community.

I’m thinking the author thinks the term ‘the international community’ actually refers to the Chinese government. The only people I know who believe the Chinese propaganda are themselves from China, recently arrived in Canada.

It’s pretty clear that the article is pure propaganda, written for Chinese consumption. The only thing that surprises me is that they’d publish it for the international community to see. It might work on people who have always had their news fabricated and provided with conclusions so the reader doesn’t have to worry their little head about it, but looking at it with western eyes makes me a little embarrassed on China’s behalf. Over the top satire is more credible than what the Chinese government tries to pass off as news.

I guess this is what happens when the government controls the news. There’s no need to spin what others are reporting, because they’re the only game going. They can just say whatever they want.

Let me leave you with the last paragraph of the story:

All these facts have come to say and will continue to prove that the Dalai group’s ill-willed attempts to destabilize Tibet, in whatever forms, will not succeed, since such efforts go against the popular will of the international community and 2.8 million people in the Tibet Autonomous Region.

See? All is well. Now just put it out of your head and the government will take care of you. Your betters will do all of your thinking for you so you can get back to work and not worry about it.

We’ve lost

Boing Boing linked a new ad campaign from London’s Metropolitan Police Service. It makes me profoundly sad. Here is one of the images:

I do understand that the police want the citizenry to be more aware of what’s going on around them. What bothers me is this ad feels a lot like the clumsy propaganda posters from World War II.

What bothers me even more is how this strategy is likely to make people more fearful and have little benefit. Is it the terrorist who have won? I don’t believe so. Those who seek power are using fear against us. Controlling a fearful population is easier than controlling the kind of population we should strive to become. Certainly watchful and aware, but not afraid.

I wonder if enough people will realize the Metropolitan Police’s ad is itself odd and deserves the full weight of our suspicion. Coupled with everything else eroding our personal freedoms, I hear Big Brother’s footsteps approaching.

Free, with strings

What is with the media? The New York Times printed an article titled “Microsoft Pledges Cash for IT in Developing World.” This is not nearly the whole story, however. Orlando Ayala, of Microsoft’s education division, lets us in on the important part: “Of course, that includes the fact they use Windows.” So if the potential recipients of this ‘cash’ don’t use Windows, they get nothing.

This seems like a drug dealer offering free samples. Once the user is addicted, there’s money to be made. Windows is not compelling enough to be addictive, but switching operating systems is a major undertaking, even if no hardware requires replacement. Rather than aid, this is simply an investment to grow their market. Is smart business charity?

The article does get into this issue, but only in its last half. The title gives a very different impression of Microsoft’s actions than you get after reading the whole story.

Crackdown

I am saddened by what’s going on in Pakistan. In case you’ve been off-planet, President General Pervez Musharraf has imposed emergency rule to crack down on Islamist fundamentalists because of the danger they pose to Pakistan’s democracy. This emergency rule suspends the country’s constitution and sounds a lot like a nice way of saying ‘martial law.’

The reason sounds laudable, but the only people arrested have been opposition members, judges, lawyers, and human rights activists. All non-government media has also been shut down. While it might be a coincidence that Pakistan’s supreme court was about to hand down its ruling on whether Musharraf’s election to the presidency is valid, I wouldn’t bet on it.

Musharraff, head of Pakistan’s military, seized power in a 1999 coup. Over the weekend, his government claimed the January elections might be delayed for up to a year. Monday, they backtracked and said the elections would be held as scheduled. I guess we’ll see, but I wouldn’t bet on this either.

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