Truth vs. Propaganda

Published: March 15, 2022

By Jim Lichtman
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How does this end?

That’s the existential question for all of us as the world sits on the brink of a war too terrible to imagine.

Under Russia’s relentless, unprovoked assault, Ukraine has suffered missile attacks, the bombing of a maternity hospital, women and children killed. As a result, more than 2.8 million refugees, and counting, have fled the country.

What’s next?

Now that Russian President Putin has effectively banned the truth to the Russian people, the only message that echoes is pure propaganda. When Ukrainian relatives contact family members in Russia with words and images of the devastation, they’re met with the party line response: Russia is conducting a “special military operation” with the honorable mission of “de-Nazifying” Ukraine. While the younger generation of Russians are able to connect to legitimate news sources to learn the truth, the older generation continues to cling to the propaganda.

As a result, the lies win.

At home, we face our own propaganda.

Even though the country has legitimate news sources, the propaganda spread by the former president and his officeholder lackeys is frighteningly like Russia’s: “fake news”; “stolen elections”; and disinformation targeted to those who cling to the political propaganda causing an ever-growing divide between families and the country.

As a result, the lies win over many.

“I am fearful when I see people substituting fear for reason.”

That timely observation comes from Klaatu, the visitor from another planet in the science fiction film, The Day the Earth Stood Still.

Failing to bring the leaders of earth’s countries together to learn of the dire consequences that face the planet if they continue down a path of war and destruction, Klaatu, in a final warning, makes clear the crisis earth and its people face is more relevant today than ever.

“I am leaving soon, and you will forgive me if I speak bluntly. The universe grows smaller every day, and the threat of aggression by any group, anywhere, can no longer be tolerated. There must be security for all or no one is secure. Now, this does not mean giving up any freedom except the freedom to act irresponsibly. Your ancestors knew this when they made laws to govern themselves and hired policemen to enforce them. We of the other planets have long accepted this principle.

“We have an organization for the mutual protection of all planets and for the complete elimination of aggression. The test of any such higher authority is, of course, the police force that supports it. For our policemen, we created a race of robots. Their function is to patrol the planets—in spaceships like this one—and preserve the peace. In matters of aggression, we have given them absolute power over us; this power cannot be revoked. At the first sign of violence, they act automatically against the aggressor.

“The penalty for provoking their action is too terrible to risk. The result is that we live in peace, without arms or armies, secure in the knowledge that we are free from aggression and war—free to pursue more profitable enterprises.

“Now, we do not pretend to have achieved perfection, but we do have a system, and it works. I came here to give you these facts. It is no concern of ours how you run your own planet. But if you threaten to extend your violence, this Earth of yours will be reduced to a burned-out cinder.

“Your choice is simple: Join us and live in peace or pursue your present course and face obliteration. We shall be waiting for your answer; the decision rests with you.”

When will we replace fear with reason?

When will the people of all countries allow the light of truth and reason to overcome the darkness of fear and lies? How does this madness end?

The decision rests with all of us.

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