This is a brief guide on how to demonise and oppress a group you hate and fear. (Or alternatively, as in Dick Cheney’s case, rob and plunder).
The first step — and this might seem obvious, but it still bears repeating — is to blind yourself to the deep-seated illogicality of your position. Remember, you will never be an effective oppressor if you harbour the slightest doubt that you might somehow be wrong. This is fatal. Therefore, you must first eradicate all traces of critical thinking from your mind. Remove all tendencies to see the other person’s point of view.
If you can’t manage this, you should not try to oppress anyone. You are a lost cause.
First choose a big lie. It doesn’t matter what the lie is, provided it tends to cause general revulsion towards the group you wish to oppress.
Once you’ve selected your lie, you must then keep repeating it no matter how many times it’s exposed as a lie. You must never deviate from your lie, but you must at every opportunity try to smear anyone who disagrees with you. They are, in fact, filthy, dirty, extreme-Left, homosexuals, blacks, immigrants, dole-scrounging Muslims, Jews, Catholic perverts.
Now, here’s the important stuff you need to remember.
The Big Lie that facilitated the USA attack on Vietnam was that North Vietnamese forces had attacked a US warship. They didn’t, but the press swallowed it.
The Big Lie that allowed Cheney’s armies to overrun Iraq was that Saddam somehow was involved in the 9-11 attacks when he was in fact a sworn enemy of Osama Bin Laden, and presided over a secular state where religion was not allowed to impose itself on day to day life, where women had equal access to all professions and all educational opportunities. Saddam might have been a despot, but he was no Muslim fanatic, yet the press swallowed Cheney’s big lie, and so began the bonanza for Halliburton, the company Cheney had absolutely, without question, separated himself from. So began the asset-stripping of an entire nation and the birth of ISIS, all thanks to the Big Lie.
The Big Lie that continues to facilitate Israel’s destruction of the Palestinian people is that they are somehow a threat to the Israeli people. And thus we watch, every couple of years, as the massive war machine pounds the world’s biggest concentration camp to rubble with the loss of thousands of lives.
We witnessed the same techniques in Ireland recently, when certain home-grown groups chose to spread insane lies about gay people with a view to defeating the marriage equality referendum. They pushed the lies that the referendum had to do with adoption, with starting a family and most bizarrely, with surrogacy.
They pushed lies about gay people being sexual abusers. They pushed lies about gay people being something other than our own sons, daughters, brothers and sisters.
Ultimately, they projected a lie based on their own self-hatred and when they met resistance, they sought to demonise those who called them out on their lies, but then an amazing life-affirming thing happened. The Irish people rejected the lies and sent the fundamentalist groups home to sulk in their socks and vests, trying somehow to convince the world that a 60-40 referendum win was a defeat for democracy.
Confirmation bias is a terrible thing, defined by some as a tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms one’s preconceptions. As more and more people desperately try to escape ISIS, the creation of the West, the new Big Lie is growing stronger, and that lie is simple. All Muslims are evil.
Perhaps the most egregious example of it occurred recently when the Daily Mail and the Telegraph reported a shocking story of a devout Muslim father who prevented his daughter’s rescue by beach lifeguards because he believed she would be dishonoured by being touched by men.
What the Mail and the Telegraph conveniently glossed over was that the incident occurred in 1996, because that wouldn’t suit their poisonous narrative. They found a negative story about a single Muslim and that was enough to project onto all the Muslims in the world, as if there had never been a stupid Christian.
What the Irish media who slavishly repeated the story failed to mention was that we have similar experiences in our own history, the most horrifying of which was the death of 35 young girls in a Cavan orphanage, prevented by prudish nuns from being rescued because the nuns didn’t wish the firemen to see them in their night dresses. By the same token, we’ve had recent court cases involving Jehovah Witness parents seeking to let their children die in hospital rather than allow blood transfusions, but such stories don’t fit the anti-Muslim narrative and are therefore never called up when confirmation bias is at work.
This is why some Irish people will look on with equanimity as people drown in the Mediterranean despite the best efforts of our heroic naval service, and yet, in the middle of the horror, there is at least some comfort to be found, since our sailors are working so hard to save the lives of those people fleeing from extremism and oppression. But on the other hand, it’s hard to escape the suspicion that many Irish people are secretly glad to keep them away from our prosperous comfortable shores.
If we had an education system that was not religious-based, but which instead encouraged critical thinking, perhaps we’d be able to avoid some of this stupidity but unfortunately, that debate is only just starting, and so we continue to be subjected to narratives based on hysteria, prejudice and ignorance.
If you don’t believe me, just take one look at the poor-man’s Golden Dawn calling themselves Identity Ireland. A bunch of clowns, admittedly, with a stupidity exaggerated by the internet, but fascists all the same.
This is the sort of ignorance we need to challenge at every opportunity, not only here in Ireland, but wherever we encounter it.