by Beverly Eakman
October 19, 2012
An editorial in the Washington Times shocked a many readers last week when it was revealed that the Pentagon is hawking an online course entitled “Power and Privilege,” compliments of the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute, a taxpayer-funded entity. The curricular theme, according to the editorial, was that “’the American dream’ is simply a manufactured ideology used to keep the underclass in its place; [that it] is part of the ‘myth of meritocracy’.”
In other words, the course is the same recycled Marxist, liberation theology we’ve heard since the Weathermen and original Black Panther Party of the 1960s and 70s. The only surprise—for those who haven’t logged onto the DOD’s website recently—is that it’s coming out of the Pentagon.
Most citizens, even in this modern era of career-altering political correctness, assume that the military is one place that is free of such extremism, that men and women of all ethnicities share foxholes in battle and provide each other with moral support through tough assignments overseas and harsh training exercises at home.
Alas, America’s military is no longer the safe haven from activism and zealotry we have been conditioned over the years to imagine. The editorial cited “[h]istorian and documentary filmmaker David A. Stein,” who logged onto the “Power and Privilege” course and got an eye-popping whammy—so much so that he posted slides from his “find” on the Republican Party Animals website.
The justification for the curriculum? Ostensibly, “optimizing … mission readiness and capabilities by promoting human dignity through equity education….”
Actually, most federal agencies have some variation of the same thing—typically a “workshop” or “training” session mandated for employees. Sometimes the theme is homosexuals in the workplace (and the DOD has that, too); other times a “roundtable” will feature multiculturalism, sexual harassment, or white-on-black discrimination. Regardless of any incidences of anti-white, anti-Christian, anti-male, or anti-heterosexual bigotry, there is never an admission, much less a course of study, even though such occurrences are becoming increasingly frequent. The so-called “hostile environment” of liberal rage is a one-way street. The fact that racism, gender bias, ethnic slander, and religious intolerance are resolving themselves in America—and most likely would have done so naturally, without interference from government—is beside the point. The pot must be kept stirred; the masses must remain inflamed.
To put a different spin on an old adage: The indoctrination will continue until morale is depleted.
Most Americans still are not familiar with a new approach to what used to be called “molding public opinion”—an expression typically associated with journalism. The modernized version is called “perception management,” and it originated with the military—the DOD to be specific. Look it up. Here is the DOD’s website definition:
“Actions to convey and/or deny selected information … to influence their emotions, motives, and objective reasoning as well as to … influence official estimates, ultimately resulting in foreign behaviors and official actions favorable to the originator’s objectives. [P]erception management combines truth projection, … cover and deception, and psychological operations.”
In other words, this is psy-ops—except it’s not necessarily aimed at “enemy forces.” You are its target, whether you declare yourself a liberal, a conservative, a constitutionalist, a libertarian—or even a socialist.
Perception Management (or PM) takes its cue from your values, your emotional state (mood), your ego (self-view), your past ethical judgments, and your purchase history. All these data are open in the digital age. What magazines do you subscribe to? What websites do you visit? What kinds of things do you purchase repeatedly? Where do you go to church (or do you go at all)? Where do your kids go to school? Are you politically active? What charities do you support? What issues or activities motivate you? What gets you angry? Where do you like to vacation? Have you made public comments on any issue? What groups do you align with?
It’s all available, if anyone cares to look. You may not even be aware of any snooping.
Perception managers look for weaknesses—ambiguity, job changes, inconsistency, clashes with neighbors, career choices. All these provide a wedge for “agents of change” to ratchet up the discomfort factor in your neighborhood, town or city. If you feel uncomfortable; you are an easier target. Uncomfortable people are careless. They accommodate, or avoid, certain situations in a more noticeable way.
Many activist leaders emanate from front groups well-versed in PM, such as the American Planning Association. When hired out to spearhead a meeting in a community—usually to drum up support for certain regulations, mandates, rules or causes—they look for ways to demonize or exaggerate issues and for individuals that might be easy to sway owing to distinctive personality traits. They fabricate enough “factoids” to appear credible and seek out the town’s movers and shakers to get a handle on the public pulse. They are masters of deception and concealment. They use terms that are seductive, and twist others to fit the situation and the demographic. They ostracize holdouts by getting the larger group to do the dirty work.
It isn’t as though we weren’t warned about all this. The first tip-off was when schoolchildren started getting “tests” that incorporated opinion-oriented questions and family enquiries. Pretty soon the word “test” disappeared, and “assessment” was substituted, thereby making it legal to ask (and mask) such queries. Some well-intentioned legislators and leaders of otherwise level-headed organizations saw no reason for alarm.
Blatantly biased curricula quickly followed, and parents couldn’t “opt out” their children. Dress codes were dropped until they hit bottom, literally, stripping away the last vestiges of parental authority. Perception managers began convincing parents 20 years ago that peers were more important than principles. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) helped a teenager file suit over the “right” to drop his pants in 2008—mostly because the fad started with the black culture hip-hop craze, which glorified the swagger and “attitude” of gangsters. Yet, the Justice and Education Departments were both working to discourage gangs.
Because Perception Managers were busily exalting all things African, baggy pants superseded programs to counter the “gangsta” lifestyle. And PM always wins.
Soon students and adults alike were awash in polls, surveys and questionnaires to affirm this extreme take on the “right to free expression.” Computers cross-matched and “shared” information. Privacy questions were ignored. And because everybody was so anxious to express their innermost thoughts—in nauseating detail—each uptick in technological know-how eventually made it laughably easy to instigate rumors, eradicate moral values, dump cultural norms, and hard-sell new parameters of “tolerance.”
PM doesn’t get any better than this.
But some began to notice: The late Michael Crichton exclaimed in a speech a September 2003 speech to The Commonwealth Club: “The greatest challenge facing mankind is…distinguishing reality from fantasy, truth from propaganda. …[I]n the information age (or…the disinformation age), we must daily decide whether the threats we face are real, whether the solutions we are offered will do any good, whether the problems we’re told exist are in fact real….”
David Baldacci appended an Author’s Note to his 2008 thriller, The Whole Truth: “…a major untruth can be established so quickly and overwhelmingly across the world that no amount of digging by anyone after the fact can make a dent in the public consciousness that it isn’t actually true at all.”
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Neither man apparently was familiar with the term “perception management.”
Today, a whole new wisdom has become ingrained. When was the last time you heard the term “rugged individualism,” “self-sufficiency” or “self-reliance”? Probably in the 1970s. Now these terms are associated with “loners” and “misfits.” A close reading of the newspaper reminds us daily that the “loner” requires psychiatric intervention, and maybe psychotropic drugs as well.
So don’t make a big deal of the “American Dream.” You can bet your “human dignity” that the ACLU wouldn’t put one dime into your child’s “right” to wear a necklace featuring a Christian cross.
That might be mistaken for a gang insignia, after all.
© 2012 Beverly Eakman - All Rights Reserved
Beverly K. Eakman began her career as a teacher in 1968. She left to become a scientific writer for a NASA contractor. She went on to serve as a former speechwriter for the Voice of America and for the late Chief Justice Warren E. Burger when he chaired the Commission on the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution. She was an editor and writer for the U.S. Dept. of Justice before retiring from federal government. Her first book in 1991 blew the whistle on misrepresented standardized testing of schoolchildren. She is now author of seven books covering education policy, mental-health fraud, data-trafficking, privacy and political strategy, with dozens of keynote speeches, feature articles and op-eds to her credit. Her most recent work is Agenda Games: How Today’s High-Stakes Political Combat Works (Midnight Whistler Publishers, 2012).
Eakman can be reached through her