Cognitive Dissonance, Hillary Clinton, and empire

23 Jan

Hillary Clinton said something today that made my head spin:

“The United States is the most extraordinary force for peace and progress the world has ever known”

“Cognitive dissonance” is a term that’s been losing its meaning due to misuse as a popular stand-in term for illogical activity in general. But what it refers to, per the original coinage, is the unpleasant experience of having a core belief challenged by contrary evidence. The frequent result is that people ignore the contrary evidence (even if overwhelming), invalidate that evidence through mental gymnastics, or otherwise make excuses that allow them to keep their core belief and feel good about it.

The core belief that Hillary Clinton articulates in the quote above is refuted by such a mountain of evidence that it’s hard to believe an educated, neutral observer wouldn’t consider this a classic case of cognitive dissonance and its result.

The Empire is the most extraordinary force for peace and progress the galaxy has ever known. ~ Darth Vader

Everyone in the United States, with few exceptions, has been bombarded with nationalistic propaganda since before they could walk.  Some of this propaganda arises “organically” from people who naturally want to believe that the big, sexy, powerful nation to which they feel attached is good.  More of it is the product of a multi-billion dollar propaganda machine that does its job much better than I do mine.  I’ve spent hundreds of hours trying to convince people, mostly Democrats, that cheerful support of leaders like Obama and Clinton is, in effect, support of what they do.  Does that seem like it would be difficult? It’s almost impossible.

The reason it’s almost impossible, I think, is because it would mean abandoning the core belief “the US is mostly good, except when Republicans are in charge.”  In order to hold a core belief like this, people will say grass is blue, the sky is green and the moon is made of cheese.  They will say anything rather than the truth.

I don’t know how to work around this.  I wish I did.  I’ve been studying methods of debate and persuasion but it hasn’t helped. I often feel ineffective and frustrated.  I’d do anything to stop these wars.

But frankly, I have no idea what to do.  I’m wondering if I should just shut up and enjoy the perks of this evil empire I’ve been born into rather than continue to struggle and accomplish nothing.  Comments?


9 Responses to “Cognitive Dissonance, Hillary Clinton, and empire”

  1. robert perry January 23, 2013 at 3:55 pm #

    Your view of us as the evil empire is both pointless and untrue. We are part of a greater empire that attempts to bring order to a messy world. If we do nothing the world burns if we act we’re bullies-read history.occupy or die.

  2. Nolan January 24, 2013 at 11:25 am #

    I am not blind to our shortcomings — even crimes — but I would really appreciate hearing from you who you consider to be the real good guys.

    • ninetyninepercentboston January 25, 2013 at 8:46 am #

      Who are the good guys in this scenario? In my opinion, the good guys in this scenario are Noam Chomsky, Chris Hedges, Cornell West and millions of other people (both famous and publicly unknown) who have been brave enough to insist that good guys don’t murder innocent people and that doing so is planting seeds of retribution which make us less safe, not safer. BTW, I’m glad you don’t seem too comfortable with the term “shortcomings” to describe this country’s criminal acts of terrorism. Words like that and phrases like “Obama and isn’t perfect but…” serve to distort and cover-up the gravity of what the United States is doing, i.e. mass murdering innocent human beings.

  3. Dennis Brasky February 10, 2013 at 9:20 am #

    Robert Perry must be exercising his sarcasm. Must we list the crimes of the US against the people of the world?

    Stabbing the 1898 independence movements of Cuba and the Philippines in the back and keeping them as colonies – 200,000 dead Filippinos;

    military interventions throughout Central America from the 1910s thru 1930s;

    firebombing German and Japanese cities with no military targets during WW2 – Robert McNamara – “if we lost, we could’ve been tried as war criminals”;

    nuking Hiroshima and Nagasaki when Japan had no defenses left against daytime bombing raids of its cities and was suing for peace;

    CIA intervention into postwar French and Italian elections (aided by the mafia);

    Occupation of the southern half of Korea and opposition to the Korean people’s desire for independence and its own path of economic development – 3 million dead;

    CIA coups overthrowing democratically-elected governments in Iran (1953) and Guatemala (1954);

    violating the 1954 Geneva Agreement to hold nationwide elections in Vietnam in 1956 because “Ho Chi Minh would’ve won 80% of the vote” and opening the door to two decades of savage war and atrocities of civilians throughout Indochina (3-4 million dead);

    decades of terrorism and sabotage against the Cuban people’s movement for independence and self-determination;

    CIA coups in Congo, Iraq (installing Saddam’s Ba’ath Party), Brazil, Indonesia, Ghana, Greece, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia;

    Invasions of Dominican Republic, Grenada, Panama;

    secret support to the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan in 1979 six months BEFORE the Soviets invaded -creating the Frankenstein monster known as al-Qaeda;

    support for death squads in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras;

    support for contra thugs to overthrow the popular government of Nicaragua;

    Supplying Saddam with WMDs like poison gas in the 1980-88 war with Iran – one million dead;

    Genocidal sanctions against Iraq from 1991-2003 that killed over one million civilians;

    Violating international law by attacking Afghanistan in 2001 for “harboring terrorists” when the US has harbored terrorists in south Florida since the 1959 Cuban Revolution;

    Violating international law by starting a pre-emptive war against Iraq in 2003 over non-existent WMDs;

    Violating international law by employing torture;

    economic war today against Iran to stop a non-existent nuclear weapons program;


  4. bill breidenstein February 27, 2013 at 5:37 pm #

    Cognitive Dissonance, what a concept, we have lost our way even from self. I am amazed that there is not much more interest in the NDAA lawsuit and its impact on our civil liberties. media control and propaganda has its impact on public opinion apathy accounts for some. But if there aren’t people reporting and fighting these transgressions of liberty what chance do we have? 99%Boston is right the heroes in this story are Chris Hedges, Noam Chomsky, Thomas Drake, John Kiriakou, , Jill Stein, Cheri Honkala Tangerine Bolen Birgitta Jonsdottir and hundreds and thousands more we need to bring the message to the people and it will be an uphill battle. Please do not give up hope your work is critically needed, PEACE, Love and Respect!

  5. Guy Fraser February 28, 2013 at 5:55 pm #

    Don’t give up. I feel exactly the same way, it’s like no matter how much documented evidence you have, people just refuse to believe it. It’s as if the only thing they believe are the lies, and the more blatantly obvious the lie is, the more they believe it.

    The first thing to do is get as many people as possible to switch of the TV. TV is a direct propaganda uplink to the brain. Get people watching more alternative media, and make sure they are aware that each media outlet has it’s own biases – eg. RT will obviously not say anything bad about Russia, etc., thus it’s important to have several sources with differing viewpoints.

    But whatever you do, don’t give up. Even if you wake up just a couple of people, as I have over the past 6 months (yes, it’s that difficult), just imagine what happens when they go on to wake up a couple of people – slow at first, but eventually an exponential increase in awake people.

    You’ll also start to find that a lot of people who tend not to say much are secretly starting to wake up. By you speaking openly about these things, they’ll see that it’s OK to talk about these atrocities. Try and inject humour, pictures of cats, etc., wherever possible. Keep the mood light if you can (I really struggle with this as I despair at so many things I see these days).

  6. Christie Gorecki July 26, 2013 at 10:18 pm #

    Its an idology like that of the Trinity.You see it in print, read it on facebook and cannot put your finger on it.It is a feeling of bringing back the happy days when America was thought to be the ideal place to live. The willingness to give your life to bring it back is a harsh statement. That will not do it. Watching history unravel the way it is no better than the idiotic laws these so called politicians are pushing is like a bad joke.
    What we have is a world of over population. A world that was united and prepared to move on accepting everyone
    As brothers and sistersand the whole bottom fell out. It fell out hard and fast. We are now in a position where we can try to get back to that happiness or just move on.This is what they are trying to recover. This past. We had it and want it back.

  7. Samuel Pepys November 15, 2013 at 8:48 am #

    Thank you for holding the line: ‘“Cognitive dissonance” is a term that’s been losing its meaning due to misuse as a popular stand-in term for illogical activity in general.’
    It sickens me to hear even (so-called) educated people misuse the expression. Kudos to you, whoever you are.

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