Are you feeling pressured to re-mold your opinions? To accept things you have long believed were morally wrong? To change your deepest convictions? To be quiet when you are offended? Have you been a victim of propaganda?

What is propaganda? It’s “communication for purpose of persuasion,” says the Think Quest website, “the manipulation of public opinion. It is generally carried out through media that is capable of reaching a large number of people and effectively persuade them for or against a cause.”

“Propaganda is a form of communication aimed towards influencing the attitude of the community toward some cause or position by presenting only one side of an argument,” says Wikipedia. “Propaganda statements may be partly false and partly true. Propaganda is usually repeated and dispersed over a wide variety of media in order to create the chosen result in audience attitudes.”

Why should you care? “When you're confronted with propaganda, it's bad news aimed straight at your heart, and it's not random at all. Another human being is aiming that arrow,” writes Guy Bergstrom. Propaganda is “an organized campaign of misinformation, fear, censorship, half-truths and lies.”

“Every waking moment we are given a choice, a test of our free will, to be ruled by desire and fear, or to do what we know at our very core is right,” offers Brandon Smith in How The Corrupt Establishment Is Selling Moral Bankruptcy To America.

“When a man silences his inner voice, the results can be terrible for him and those around him," writes Smith. "When an entire culture silences its inner voice, the results can be catastrophic. Such a shift in the moral compass of a society rarely takes place in a vacuum.”

But who would want to change an entire society? Look at Hitler’s Nazi Germany or Mao’s China. “There is always a false shepherd,” writes Smith, “a corrupt leadership that seeks to rule. Rulership, though, is difficult in the face of an awake population that respects integrity and honor.”

Destroy a society’s integrity and honor, says Smith, and you can lead them anywhere,” writes Smith. Look at what Lenin and Stalin did to traditionally Christian and family-oriented Russia.

“Some people believe that morality comes from the force of bureaucracy and government law. Still others believe there is no such thing; that morality is a facade created by men in order to better grease the wheels of society. The reality is that we are not born good or evil. Rather, we are all born with the capacity for good and evil. This internal battle stays with us until the end of our days.”

“Propaganda uses images, caricatures and fear like a weapon. If you're the target of propaganda, it's not random. It's a dagger aimed at your heart.”

Here are a few tried and true propaganda tactics to watch out for.

Those taking power pretend to be righteous: This propaganda technique has worked over and over for those seizing power. “They must first sell the public on the idea that they hold the exact same values as everyone else,” writes Smith.

“The public must at first believe that corrupt leaders are pure in their motives and have the best interests of the nation at heart, even if they secretly do not.”

Pretend to be patriotic, protecting the nation from any convenient enemy. The corrupt Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe is a master of this one. “Despots often proclaim an untarnished love of their homeland and the values that it was founded upon,” continues Smith. “However, what they really seek is to become a living symbol of the homeland.”

“They insist first that they are the embodiment of the national legacy, and then they attempt to change that national legacy entirely. A corrupt government uses the ideals of a society to acquire a foothold, and when they have gained sufficient control, they dictate to that society a new set of ideals that are totally contrary to the original.”

Offer to “fix” the economy: Hitler did this one very effectively. “Tyrants do not like it when the citizens under them are self-sufficient or economically independent,” writes Smith.

“They will use whatever methods are at their disposal including subversive legislation and even engineered financial collapse in order to remove the public’s ability to function autonomously.”

“They will begin this process under the guise that the current less-controlled and less-centralized system is ‘not safe enough,’ and that they have a better way to ensure prosperity.”

Offer to take care of everybody: Evita Peron used this tactic in fascist Argentina. “Once the population has been removed from its own survival imperative and is for the most part helpless, the criminal leadership moves in and offers to ‘help’ using taxation and money creation, slowly siphoning the wealth from the middle class and raising prices through inflation.”

“Eventually, everyone will be ‘equal;' equally poor that is. In the end, the whole nation will see the rulership as indispensable, for without them, the economy would no longer exist and tragedy would ensue."

Create external fear: The mullahs in Iran have mastered this: “The criminal leadership conjures an enemy for the people, or multiple enemies for the people,” writes Smith. “The goal is to create a catalyst for mass fear.”

“When the majority of people are afraid of an artificial external threat, they will embrace the establishment as a vital safeguard. When a society becomes convinced that it cannot take care of itself economically, little coaxing is required to convince them that they are also not competent enough to take care of their own defense."

“The government not only becomes caregiver and nanny, but also bodyguard. At this point, the establishment has free reign to dissolve long cherished liberties while the masses are distracted by a mysterious threat hiding somewhere over the horizon.”

Create internal fear: The Muslim Brotherhood is using this in Egypt against Christians, prompting mobs to attack churches, Christian orphanages and Christian-owned homes and businesses.

Hitler used it against the Jews. So did Stalin. “Move the threat from over the horizon, right to the public’s front door, or even within their own home. The enemy is no longer a foreigner. Now, the enemy is the average looking guy two houses over, or an outspoken friend, or even a dissenting family member.”

“The enemy is all around them, according to the establishment. The public is sold on the idea that the sacrifice needed in order to combat such a pervasive ‘threat’ is necessarily high.”

Dissent must be replaced with silence. Look at the campaign that led to racial genocide in the African nation of Rwanda – when ethnic groups that had lived side-by-side for decades were urged by those grabbing power to turn on their neighbor and murder men, women and children with machetes.

“Peace must be replaced with violence,” warns Smith. “The independent should be treated with suspicion. The outspoken treated with contempt. Good men are labeled cowards because they refuse to ‘do what needs to be done,’ while evil men are labeled heroes for having the ‘strength of will’ to abandon their conscience.”

Are Smith’s warnings alarmist? Take a look at Pol Pot’s Cambodia, where millions were killed by their own countrymen -- had been convinced that good was bad, cities were evil and being educated deserved a death sentence.

Mao used the same tactic. Murders by his young “Red Guards” of the Cultural Revolution soared into the millions.

Today Gangaweed militias still are targeting southern Sudan’s black tribes – particularly the Christians, murdering men, enslaving women and girls while forcing young boys to become killers of their own people. Stalin and Mao enlisted children, too. So did the Nazis – the Hitler Youth were vicious, searching the streets for Jews or anyone not demonstrating enthusiastic fervor for the Fuhrer.

In Nazi Germany and Cold War eastern Europe, the average citizen was not merely complicit in repudiating the truth, warns Smith, but out of fear aided the despots. Under Stalin, even an unfounded suspicion of disloyalty was often punishable by death -- or exile to the prison camps of Siberia. Today in North Korea, failure to show wildly emotional public devotion to the nation's leader can result in entire familes suffering long sentences in "re-education

How many times in history has the populace been spurred to “froth and stomp in excitement for the carnival of death – and treat the truth as poison?” asks Smith. The answer is troubling – and serves as a stern warning for the future.

Could it happen here? Have your convictions been attacked? Have you been pressured to accept things you’ve long considered immoral? Or evil? Or dangerous to the "Land of the Free, Home of the Brave?"

Do you find yourself forced to embrace ideas you always believed were wrong? Have you been intimidated to remain silent when in years past you would have spoken out in righteous fury?Have you been compelled to concede that what was once absurd or obviously wrong must now be accepted, even celebrated, in the name of tolerance? Are you a victim of propaganda? If the answer is "Yes," will you dare to resist? To refuse to bend or to bow? To fight back with the many tools of democracy that the U.S. Constitution gives you?

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