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OAKLAND, Calif. — Part of what makes propaganda effective is the way it uses words that collectively sound like they mean something but ultimately signal very little. Speaking on this topic, Noam Chomsky noted that, “you [the propagandist] want to create a slogan that nobody is gonna be against and I suppose everybody will be for because nobody knows what it means because it doesn’t mean anything, but its crucial value is it diverts your attention from a question that does mean something. Do you support our policy and that’s the one you’re not allowed to talk about.”
The syrianpresidency Instagram account, which The Atlantic recently wrote about, is just such an example. Though it’s not quite selfies of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, it’s also not a parody account. Writing on the classic role of propaganda as distraction, Megan Garber pointed out the strategy: “It’s not neurotoxins and explosions and the violent deaths of civilians and children; it’s science competitions and basketball games and, as my National Journal colleague Marin Cogan points out, Tiffany-blue fitness-tracking bracelets.”
This issue of diversion is key and in a world of centrally-controlled media, diversion is a straightforward affair. Transferring these techniques to social media doesn’t quite translate — beneath each post from syrianpresidency is a comment section, and these comments are rich with dissent and debate. Comments alone don’t change anything, and it’s not like everyone who makes the comments agrees with each other. However, the simple act of being able to leave a comment breaks a key function of propaganda by raising the issue that isn’t supposed to be discussed.
There remains one very large group of people who have no way of talking back (yet). Two years ago, North Korea famously opened up accounts on YouTube and Twitter, but the majority of their citizens have no access (not even censored access) to the internet. One wonders what they would say if they could just add a short comment.
“Black infants in America are now more than twice as likely to die as white infants—11.3 per 1,000 black babies, compared with 4.9 per 1,000 white babies, according to the most recent government data—a racial disparity that is actually wider than in 1850, 15 years before the end of slavery, when most black women were…
he ownership of images has a long and nuanced legal history, which has evolved dramatically in recent years as cultural standards and photographic technologies have rapidly advanced
The show, which honors the 50th anniversary of an exhibition history once ignored, continues a series of projects documenting Wilmington’s contemporary art scene.
Renty and his daughter Delia. Renty was an enslaved African, kidnapped from the Congo, sold and forced into slave labor on the South Carolina plantation of B.F. Taylor
What is the relation between possessing a person, possessing their image, and dispossessing their progeny
As a scholar of African American history and photography whose work has focused on the status of violent images in museums and archives, I fully support the validity of Ms. Tamara Lanier’s claim and the amicus brief.
Two K-12 art teachers will each receive a $1,000 cash gift and an additional $500 to put toward classroom art supplies. Nominations are due October 31.
The daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor, Delia, Drana, Alfred, Jack, George Fassena, and Jem remained in an unused storage cabinet until 1975, when it was discovered by an employee of the Peabody Museum.
I am writing in support of the amicus curiae brief submitted by Professor Ariella Aïsha Azoulay of Brown University for the full restitution of the daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor and his daughter Delia, currently held by Harvard University, to their familial descendant, Tamara Lanier.
We cannot be indifferent to the long-lasting effects of photography. The photographs at the center of Lanier v. Harvard are relentless in making Renty and Delia Taylor work and perform as slaves. The pain inflicted on them has not ceased. Photography has the capacity to propagate harm, and we have the moral obligation to interrupt…