Without cheating, can you name the man in the picture above? It’s okay if you can’t; most people won’t be able to, and there are no Bonus Progressive Points to be earned in the unlikely event that you’re one of the few who can.
I’ll tell you his name in a minute, but right now I’d just like to draw your attention to the fact that it has been forgotten. The murder of the man in the picture by a white supremacist in an act of terrorism last March received a semi-decent amount of media coverage, but it was quickly lost in the news churn and has rarely come up since. It is probable that you heard about his murder at the time, and it’s possible you even recognize his face, but it’s highly unlikely that you remember his name, which turns up 164,000 results in a Google search.
The name “Heather Heyer” turns up nearly five million search results, despite having happened far more recently, and you are doubtless familiar with both her face and her name.
I think it’s worthwhile to take some time and ask ourselves why that might be. Why has one victim garnered so much more attention than the other? What’s happening there exactly? Why is one name being elevated so much higher than the other, and was it anyone’s conscious decision to do so?
Are the two killings being treated differently because of the severity of the crime? Each crime featured the same number of murder victims: one. Heather Heyer was killed with a car, which is horrific, but the man in the picture was stabbed multiple times on the street with a sword. It was an attack intended to be as terrifying to the public as possible, and his killer stated that he did it to send a message to women that they should avoid interracial relationships. Not sure there’s much of a case that it’s due to the severity of their respective murders.
It’s tempting to raise the possibility that they’re being treated differently because of America’s deeply ingrained racism; one victim was a young white woman, the other a 66 year-old black man. Indeed, when the man in the picture was murdered outlets like the New York Post and the New York Daily News included in their report the fact that he had a criminal record apropos of nothing whatsoever, as though that’s just what the press is meant to habitually do whenever a black man is killed by a white person. The victim was selected at random; his minor criminal history had nothing to do with anything, and they knew it. The New York Post even complimented the murderer’s nice suit without once mentioning the fact that the murder was racially motivated.
I don’t for a second doubt that the depraved manipulators who run America’s mass media machine were secretly delighted that the victim of the attack in Charlottesville was a photogenic young white woman. I am quite sure that they drooled a bit when they thought about the ratings Heyer’s photograph was going to bring in as they repeatedly flashed it across screens for mainstream America to see. But I’m not sure that’s the whole story either.
Is it hard to imagine that had the car attack killed a black woman instead of Heather Heyer, the media would be treating her in essentially the same way? I think that they would be. I think that the brave martyr who died standing up to Nazis could just as easily have had brown skin, and would have been portrayed in more or less the same way. She might gain less sympathy from low-key racist Americans who subconsciously care less about black murder victims than white murder victims, but the presentation I think would be more or less the same.
Would you like to know what I think? I think Heather Heyer received more attention than the man in the picture because we are being manipulated. One of them died in a highly politicized incident, and the other did not. It’s the politicized nature of the so-called “Unite the Right” rally which led the same mass media which completely ignored Standing Rock to unanimously converge upon Charlottesville long before anyone got killed, and it’s that same politicization which has made Heather Heyer a household name while the man in the picture is not. The story of the man in the picture brought in a few clicks for media outlets for a few days, but Heyer’s death is part of a narrative that the propaganda arm of the US power establishment is advancing.
Why was there so much media attention on Charlottesville prior to the murder? Do you remember ever seeing so much media attention on a white supremacist rally? I’ve certainly never seen the American press focus with so much gravity on a hate group’s demonstration, but it’s not like hate groups just sprung into existence when Trump was elected. Hate incidents were happening throughout the Obama administration, from his inauguration all the way up until he left office. The only thing that’s different about Heather Heyer’s murder is that it fits into a narrative being fed to the public by the mass media propaganda machine.
What is that narrative, and where is it taking us? How is this narrative about murderous white nationalists taking over America being used by the people advancing it? Does it have something to do with how we’re no longer hearing about Trump-Russia collusion all of a sudden? How we’ve been seamlessly paced from “Impeach Trump because he’s a secret Kremlin agent” to “Impeach Trump because he’s a secret Nazi”? Is it in some way tied to the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity report that was brought toward mainstream awareness in a viral article by The Nation, which seems to punch some major plot holes in the official Russia narrative and which mainstream outlets have consistently failed to refute?
I don’t know, but these questions are worth asking and this is worth keeping careful track of.
The War on Sensemaking
I’d like to propose that we are already fighting World War III. We are not merely getting perilously close or or…
It has been 100 years since Edward Bernays was asked to help the American war effort by applying his uncle Sigmund Freud’s studies to a new German military tactic known as propaganda. As noted by Jordan Greenhall in an interesting essay titled “The War On Sensemaking”, the science behind these psychological manipulations could be expected to develop just as rapidly as other sciences within the US war machine. Think about how much development has been made in just the military technologies that we know about in the last 100 years, and it should give you a rough idea of how far the manipulation techniques of propaganda could be expected to have advanced by now.
In an influential 1983 paper titled “Military Psychological Operations and US Strategy,” Col. Alfred R. Paddock Jr. wrote that “psychological operations is the one weapons system which has an important role to play in peacetime.” According to an article titled “How US Flooded the World with Psyops” by investigative journalist Robert Parry of Consortium News, “Until the 1980s, psyops were normally regarded as a military technique for undermining the will of an enemy force by spreading lies, confusion and terror… Essentially, the psyops idea was to play on the cultural weaknesses of a target population so they could be more easily manipulated and controlled. But the challenges facing the Reagan administration in the 1980s led to its determination that peacetime psyops were also needed and that the target populations had to include the American public.”
In a corporatist system of government, which the United States indisputably has, corporate media is state media. There is no meaningful separation between corporate power and government power, and so the plutocrats who own the corporate media can use it to advance the agendas of the nation’s true leaders.
Mainstream America is not being told the raw facts about what is happening in the United States. Nor is mainstream America simply being fed whatever information will draw the highest ratings and bring in the most advertising revenue for the consolidated corporate media conglomerates. Mainstream America is being paced through a narrative, slowly and methodically. Up until last month it was Russians. Now it’s Nazis. Soon it will be Russians again, or something else entirely. All will be geared toward manipulating the way people think and manufacturing public support for the agendas of America’s unelected power establishment.
What those agendas are exactly is hard to say. They’re surrounded in smoke and mirrors, in lies and half-truths and bluffs, double bluffs and triple bluffs. The propaganda machine has had a century of high-budget scientific research and development going into it, and we’re all just barely figuring out that we’re being dicked around. It’s hard to see the shapes clearly.
We’ve got to try though. What other choice do we have? We’ve got to try to remember, to keep track of the patterns so we’ll notice something fishy when the next trick rolls around. Don’t forget about Heather Heyer. Don’t forget how aggressively they sold you the story that America is in grave danger of being taken over by Nazis. Don’t forget how panicked they made people feel. This will be valuable information later on when they try to use the news churn to jostle you into amnesia and into the next manipulation. Keep track of their manipulations and remember.
The man in the picture’s name was Timothy Caughman.
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