Dangers of Propaganda


In today’s society, with news stories surrounding us from every direction, it is nearly impossible to avoid influence by the media. Television, radio, newspapers, and the Internet affect the way we think, and consequently our behavior. I believe that one of the main differences between propaganda now and propaganda of the 1930’s is that today we are more aware of the fact that the media aims to influence us. This means that we can make educated decisions about political discussions instead of basing our opinions solely on what journalists tell us.

The first time propaganda was really made big in the US was during World War I. President Woodrow Wilson kept America out of the war during his first term, and his campaign slogan for reelection was “vote for Wilson, he kept us out of the war.” However, after he was reelected he knew that America’s involvement in the war was inevitable. In order to get Americans excited about entering the war, journalists and marketing teams used the psychological tactics of propaganda. By creating an anti-German sentiment, Americans mobilized support for their troops and generated hatred towards their enemy.

During the time of the Harlem Riot of 1935, the idea of propaganda was relatively new, and people didn’t realize how much influence the journalists had over their behavior. By writing phrases like “negro boy brutally beaten.” The journalists stirred up the spectators’ emotions and ultimately caused them to riot.

The articles we have read have each been written with a biased opinion. Even Cheryl Greenberg’s article The Politics of Disorder: Reexamining Harlem’s Riots of 1935 and 1943, which for the most part seems unprejudiced has subtleties that hint towards her opinion. Her point of view probably stems from the fact that “Professor Greenberg teaches courses in African American history, the history of race in the U.S., and the interplay of race and ethnicity, as well as courses in recent US history. Professor Greenberg's research interests are equally varied, ranging from African American communities during the Great Depression to grass-roots organizing in the Civil Rights movement, and from race riots to Black-Jewish relations.”


While reading these articles, watching the news, or reading a political argument on the Internet, it is important to keep in mind WHO is writing it. We need to be conscious of the fact that our thoughts are vulnerable and that the news can be dangerous if we only see one side of it.

The pictures I chose represent propaganda in today’s society. Whether it is about a presidential campaign or about which computer system is better, propaganda exists everywhere we look.