Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Immigration Propaganda Matrix - Part 2: Positioning and Demonizing & HB116:

One goal of propaganda is to position the opposition so that they are effectively silenced.

Silenced, however, may not be quite the right term for the process.

They are certainly capable of still proclaiming their point of view - but may hesitate to do so.

The process is also directed towards those who will interpret the words and actions of those expressing the targeted point of view.

The purpose is to create a response, on the part of those who may not be too familiar with the other point of view, so that they essentially refuse to consider the other position.

The positioning itself creates a negative view of those holding the view under attack. 

Throw in some additional demonizing and the marginalization becomes even more secure.

The case of HB116 illustrates this process.

Two recent articles from the Salt Lake Tribune contain examples of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) who are key players in the pro-HB116 efforts and who are using the Church as a wedge to push LDS state Republican delegates away from their determination to repeal HB116 and pass a resolution to that end at the state Republican convention on June 18. 

Those determined to repeal the bill will most likely not be swayed.  However, they may be positioned in such a way as to be hesitant to speak out on behalf of their position. 

Those not having a strong view of HB116 are certainly targets of this propaganda process.

In the first article ("Supporter of Utah guest-worker law launch campaign," June 7, 2011 -, Jeremy Roberts, the recently elected Utah County Republican Party secretary, is quoted as saying of those delegates opposing HB116:

"If there are delegates who are willing to openly fight against the LDS Church..."

Mr. Roberts equates support for HB116 as the only proper position one can have because he equates supporting the bill as having official sanction of the LDS Church. 

Delegates who are LDS members are, therefore, obligated to support that position. 

LDS members who are involved in the political process opposing the bill are thus seen to be openly opposing, not just HB116, but the LDS Church itself. 

Mr. Roberts may be sincere in his views. 

On the other hand, he may also be engaging in a type of characterization intentionally designed to take advantage of many state delegates' religious attachments to the LDS Church and to use those attachments as a way to try to subtly coerce LDS members into rejecting the repeal of HB116. 

Additional details of Mr. Roberts' view were described earlier in the article:

"Roberts scoffs at opponents of the bill who still doubt the church’s support for the measure, saying that there is no way top Mormon leaders are "letting their [public relations] department go off the reservation."

"I think the [Republican] Party’s anti-establishment arm has gotten to the point where it has carried over from their politics to their religion," he said."

Mr. Roberts creates a strong characterization of those opposing HB116.  He essentially positions both sides in the fight over HB116 as either "good" or "bad."  Those who are pro-HB116 are "good" because they support the LDS Church.  Those who oppose the bill are "bad" because they oppose the LDS Church.

The question to ask is whether or not it is appropriate, in any sense, to portray the Republican Party in Utah as if it were an auxiliary of a single religious organization. 

Certainly, in Utah, many state delegates and opponents of HB116 are LDS.  But many are not.  Many may participate in other churches and many may not participate in any church at all or may be non-religious.  They are all part of the Republican Party and deserve to have a voice in it.   

In a recent development, the LDS Church released another statement about immigration on June 10, 2011.  The LDS Church has presented us with a thoughtful document which warrants careful consideration as to how it applies to any particular political action regarding immigration.  Indeed, thoughtful statements by all religious and other groups presenting us with important principles to consider should be welcomed. The question for this blog entry, however, is not directly related to this new statement.  My purpose here is to consider how the LDS Church is being used as part of a campaign to marginalize opponents of a particular bill, HB116.  

Is this use justifiable?  It is not.   

Referencing this new LDS Church statement, State Senator Curt Bramble, R-Provo, also gets into the act.  In the Salt Lake Tribune's article, "Latest LDS statement on illegal immigration is murky," (June 10, 2011 -, Senator Bramble's comments are:

"For Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, who is Mormon and a key architect of Utah’s new guest-worker law, there was no question the statement came from the top, and a vote to repeal HB116 would run counter to the LDS leadership’s wishes. 

"This statement leaves no doubt," Bramble said. "None."

Senator Bramble, it seems, is willing to position opponents in the same fashion as Mr. Roberts.

Again, Senator Bramble may be sincere in his views or he may be intentionally using the Church's statement as a way to marginalize those who oppose HB116. 

These are strong statements by the pro-HB116 spokesmen. 

But, by themselves, are they a strong enough marginalization and demonizing of opponents of HB116?

Apparently not.

Mr. Roberts' quote continues:

"If there are delegates who are willing to openly fight against the LDS Church and there are delegates who sincerely think we should reopen places like Topaz [an internment camp for Japanese-Americans in WWII] and begin rounding up brown people … then maybe there are people who should think about getting [politically] involved and replacing those delegates."

Enforcement, therefore, means brutalization.

The anti-HB116 delegates now, not only openly oppose the LDS Church, but they also want a brutal rounding up of "brown" people?

Who could support such a view?

Mr. Roberts should certainly know better than to leave out any alternative enforcement mechanisms in his portrayal of enforcement as the rounding up of "brown" people.  Leaving out any other option for enforcement is a serious omission.  It delegitimizes his own point of view through the presenting of a false choice - either you are for a compassionate approach, such as HB116, or you support a brutal rounding up of illegal aliens.  His implied racist charge against opponents is equally out of place.  His own position must be weak or he would not feel the need to engage in such demonizing of his opponents' views through suspect rhetorical tactics.

Will the delegates fall for the propaganda of the HB116 proponents?

Thankfully, there are clearly those who see through the effort, whether intentional or not, to demonize the anti-HB116 delegates.  In the Tribune article, "Latest LDS statement on illegal immigration is murky," one delegate tells us:

"Dan Deuel, a state GOP delegate from Weber County, said a signature by the First Presidency — as had been done when the church dived into the Proposition 8 anti-gay marriage debate in California — wouldn’t make a difference to him, but mentioning HB116 might have.

"The church doesn’t dictate my vote," he said. "I look for my own answers, and there are other ways to do what the church is asking."

Indeed, as important as such statements by the LDS Church are for consideration in the public domain of politics, we also need to remember that delegates were elected by Republicans in their precincts.  The delegates, therefore, represent all Republicans within their precincts.  This, of course, includes individuals of various other faiths as well as of non-religious Republicans. 

For Senator Bramble and Mr. Roberts to imply that a delegate is obligated to follow a Bramble-esque interpretation of LDS Church statements as calling for a specific action, which then represents one's devotion to the LDS Church on the matter, is to pull the delegate away from his or her commitment to that precinct's Republican voters and to subordinate that obligation in a way that cannot be done without being dishonest to those same voters. 

Mr. Deuel's thoughtful approach represents the best in the delegate-system.

If all the delegates follow his approach, the convention on Saturday (June 18) will fulfill its duty to represent the Republican voters of Utah.

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