The Daily Telegraph is the main conservative newspaper in Britain – at least that is how it presents itself and some of its content really is conservative, but often it follows the line of the left (the doctrines that Telegraph journalists will have been taught in school, including most private schools, and at university).
Yesterday’s print edition (which I read on a long journey from Northern Ireland) gives an interesting example (the online edition is arranged differently). Most people will see the assumptions in the article by Telegraph employee Mary Riddell – “Osbourn’s brutal cuts play right into the hands of the unions” (actually the British government spending review is not even published to October 20th – and I would not be astonished if, behind all the smoke and mirrors, government spending next year was even higher than it is this year) with language such as “slash and burn” and “destroys the very charities and community groups” (in Mary’s world, which is sadly very close to the state of modern Britain, a charity or community group is part of the government to be funded by the taxpayers) inflicting “maximum pain” and threatening a “concordant with the unions” … etc, etc. Propaganda of this sort is not really dangerous – everyone can see it for what it is and make their own judgements. However, it is not what interests me – I am interested in what people will not tend to spot, what flows into their minds without their even knowing it.
On the obituary page people will notice the obituary for John Gouriet (one of the founders of what became the Freedom Association in Britain), and some people will get angry at the scare quote marks around the word “oppression” in relation to the Soviet Union (as if Mr Gouriet was silly to think that the totalitarian Soviet Union actually was oppressive), but most people will just read without really thinking the little extract from “Great Obituaries From This Week In The Past” next to it – an extract from the obituary of the famous supporter of racial segregation Governor George Wallace (who died in 1998). First of all the placement of the “extract” associates Mr Gouriet with racial segregation (“paranoid Paul – they just happened to die in the same week, twelve years apart, so we have put them next to each other”) as does the stress on South Africa in the obituary of Mr Gouriet – it implies (but never actually states – “no Paul – we are just reporting that he opposed the postal boycott of South Africa”) that John Gouriet supported the laws on racial segregation in South Africa. But also the extract itself is a wonderful (“nice” in the old Anglo Saxon sense) distortion of George Wallace himself.
George Wallace is made out to be a man of the right (in the small government Ronald Reagan or Mrs Thatcher or John Gouriet sense) – he “detached a substantial portion of the blue collar vote from the Democratic party for a generation” with his “anti Washington” themes. In reality George Wallace was a Democrat – and a big government Democrat at that, he stood for vastly increased government spending (on education, health and old age) his whole political life, not just at the State level in Alabama, but also at the Federal level (so much for being “anti Washington” in the sense of being anti big government).
Now the full obituary back in 1998 may have told the truth about what George Wallace actually was – but the extract certainly does not. And it is little things like this extract (the “drip, drip, drip” effect) that form the background knowledge of people on subjects that people do not really know anything about. “Oh George Wallace – that racist anti big government conservative, a bit like Reagan or Sarah Palin or…”
People wonder how the left can redefine such things as the big government “Slave Holding States of America”, the Confederacy, as anti big government (and since the time of Woodrow Wilson’s history of the United States they have done such a good job of this, that some libertarians even go about showing their support for the Confederacy without having a clue about the big government polices, far worse than those of Lincoln and the Union, that Jefferson Davis and co actually followed), or how they managed to redefine the life long socialist Mussolini and his “totalitarian” Fascists as somehow pro business conservatives (and associate being pro free enterprise with being a Fascist), but here we see the process in action. George Wallace, life long big government man, is transformed into an anti big government activist before our eyes – and racism is thereby connected with being anti big government.
Is this a deep, dark plot by leftist infiltrators at the Daily Telegraph? Almost certainly not – it is “just” people following what they were taught at school and university, at that is about the most harmful thing a journalist (or non journalist) can do when writing about history, politics, economics…
If “those who control the education of the young control the future” is correct then civilization is already doomed – but I believe that people can break free of what they were taught, if we make the effort.