Bob Franken




When does journalism turn to propaganda? (Fellow journalists, let’s not get sanctimonious too quickly.) It’s not as simple as someone with a point of view spinning like a whirling dervish preaching to a choir, like Donald Trump speaking at a rally. Media influencing is really more subtle than that.
Journalists use the word “moderates” to describe those of both parties — Republicans and Democrats — who are realists and have already accepted the concept that give-and-take means you can’t bargain if you’re not willing to give. So what’s the opposite of moderates? “Immoderates”? Well-intentioned reporters toss around words like “moderate” off the walls of the political arena to describe somebody who is not an off-the-wall fanatic.
Here’s another one: “faith,” as in “man of faith” or “woman of faith,” of course. The question is faith in what? Faith in whom? All of the great religions of the world fall short of knowing. And yet they fight great wars over their faiths, and send huge crowds of men (and a few women, but usually men) to die with the promise of great rewards, but until then it’s just conjecture.
And what about life before birth? Isn’t the bitter abortion argument about what constitutes life? The descriptors “pro-choice” and “pro-life” are totally misleading. And yet we journalists use them, possibly out of laziness because we don’t want to do the hard work or suffer the wrath of one side or the other in this fundamentalist fight.
Until you define the fetus inside a woman — is it life or is it an extension of the woman — you can’t define an action as a “choice” between obliviously aborting it or, if the opposite is true and it is a separate life, murder.
And we can’t leave that up to religions, which are historically institutions of male oppression.

How much influence should a man have in the decision, particularly since his investment is exactly one sperm? It takes a meeting of the minds in a society to decide how much stature the male should have in this discussion. The female of our species is the host, both for gestation and beyond.
The mother is responsible not only during the nursing period but, try as we might to achieve progress, it is the mother who is usually assigned by society to raise children if there’s a dispute or a divorce. And the father is assigned to be the breadwinner in all but the most enlightened of families.
And there’s another word: “enlightened.”
Talk about a judgmental way of describing a relationship. Does that mean that couples who deviate from equal distribution of the chores of parenthood are somehow unenlightened? There are few “soccer dads,” for instance, but also not too many “single dads.” That’s partly due to the fact that, even in this day and age, the dad is paid more than the mom, and partly due to tradition, as in “we’ve always done it this way.”
“Progress,” as in “progressive,” means advocating for an advanced society. That’s double propaganda. A new idea is not a good idea just because it replaces the way things have survived for generations. Obviously some are: The mistreatment of people of color, particularly Black Americans, from slavery onward, needs to go. And all vestiges. The continued unequal treatment of women, the continued hostility between religions and ethnic groups, and, this is a biggie, the oppression of cultural norms and sexual norms all require some replacing and rethinking.
And when does a totally sane protection against COVID become some insane resistance against tyranny, and when did it separate from a reasonable function of government regulation?
Furthermore, when does attachment to one man become a yearning for America, which was never really all that great? And when is an honest broker, the journalist, to be trusted, and when are we propagandists?

© 2021 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap