Propaganda War

My column for the West Bend Daily News is online. Here you go:

The 115th Congress took a break last week from wrestling over repealing Obamacare, confirming appointees and all of the other ideas bubbling around the beginning of a new session. It was a brief opportunity for our elected representatives to return home and spend some time listening to the people in their respective districts. And boy, did they get an earful.

If you were watching the news in the past few weeks, the scene was repeated over and over again. A Republican Congressperson or Senator hosted a town hall or attend a public event. They were greeted by dozens of protestors who would interrupt, shout, wave signs, chant, and generally try to be as disruptive as possible. Given President Trump’s temporary travel ban from unstable countries, enforcement of immigration laws, and continued insistence on building a wall on America’s southern border, the most frequent topic of unrest was immigration and/or illegal aliens.

Wisconsin’s own Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner was one such recipient of this treatment. Sensenbrenner has been listening to his constituents in town halls since President Carter was in the White House. As a conservative Republican, Sensenbrenner has been a prime target of protestors. At a recent town hall in Menomonee Falls, the mob shouted down other attendees with chants of “No ban. No wall. America has room for all.” The video of it filled social media and the local news broadcasts.

If one were to just watch the news, one could be forgiven for thinking that there is overwhelming opposition to Trump’s immigration policies. The polls disabuse that perception.

According to a survey conducted by Harvard-Harris Poll and provided to The Hill, the public overwhelmingly supports Trump’s immigration policies. Eighty percent of respondents oppose sanctuary cities and support the federal government compelling sanctuary cities to comply with immigration laws — including local police reporting illegal aliens with whom they come into contact to federal immigration authorities. Seventy-seven percent of the poll’s respondents support an overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws.

Slightly lesser majorities, but still majorities, support Trump’s other efforts regarding immigration. 53 percent support Trump’s temporary travel ban. Fifty-one percent think that the United States should accept fewer Syrian refugees with only 15 percent thinking that the country should accept more.

The only point on which the poll showed disapproval was when it came to the wall. Fifty-three percent of respondents oppose the wall, but 75 percent support increased border patrols. The public clearly wants a less permeable southern border, but is less enthusiastic about that being accomplished with a wall.

How does one reconcile the media perception of massive opposition to Trump’s immigration policies with the Harvard-Harris’ poll’s findings of overwhelming support for those policies? First, one must remember that this is the same media that told the world that Trump was unelectable right up until the day he won the election.

Second, the media, intentionally or not, is the mouthpiece for an intentional misinformation campaign being conducted by Barack Obama’s activist stormtroopers, Organizing for Action (OFA). In a Facebook post on Feb. 9, OFA called on activists to attend Republican town halls to protest. The instruction manual distributed by OFA advises protesters to enter the town halls quietly, sit in the front but “not all sit together,” and spread out in pairs to give the impression of broad opposition.

Then the activists are advised to confront Republican elected officials and “loudly boo the GOP politician if he isn’t ‘giving you real answers.’” The goal is to make Republicans feel uneasy about supporting the Trump agenda and seed “the ground for the 2018 midterms when Democrats retake power.”

Most importantly, activists are told to record their interactions with Republicans, post it to social media, and then feed the video to local and national media. The intent of OFA is to create the impression of broad opposition to Trump’s policies and to destabilize and delegitimize our Republic.

While there is certainly opposition to various policies, and some of it is quite intense, the efforts by OFA to create and feed a fake perception is subversive and reprehensible. It reeks of the tactics used by communist revolutionary organizations for decades. The ability to distribute propaganda instantly through social media and a media willing to parrot their false narrative makes their work easier and more effective.