Brainwashed Blues

Politically obsessed readers of a certain age might recall that Mitt Romney’s father lost a chance to become president due to the injudicious use of the word “brainwashing.”

For those too young or too old to remember, George Romney had become a business legend by rescuing the American Motors Corporation from failure, parlayed his fame into the governorship of Michigan, and was successful enough in the job to be considered a leading contender for the presidency in 1968. Romney had come back from a fact-finding mission to Vietnam in 1965 as an outspoken supporter of America’s military efforts there, but had become a critic of the war by 1967, and he explained his change of mind by telling a television reporter that the generals had given him a “brainwashing” during his trip. Republican primary voters decided they didn’t want a candidate whose brain was so easily susceptible to washing, and thus Richard Nixon became president.

The incident was brought to mind by a video from 1995, recently uncovered by the invaluable Brietbrat.com site, which features current Attorney General Eric Holder employing a far more troubling use of the term “brainwash.”

Holder, then a U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, is seen telling the Women’s National Democratic Club that the government should employ the news media, the entertainment, sports and advertising industries, the public schools, and all other available resources to inculcate in the public an attitude that it’s “not cool, not acceptable, that it’s not hip to carry a gun anymore.” Just when the more paranoid listener will be musing that what he describes sounds very much like brainwashing, Holder adds with no apparent embarrassment that “we need to do this every day of the week and just really brainwash people into thinking about guns in a vastly different way.”

There is much to criticize in the speech, including Holder’s recommendation of famously crack-addicted Mayor Marion Berry as a possible star for the public service advertisements as someone who “has credibility with young people,” but his unabashed belief that the government should be in the business of brainwashing its citizens is outrageous.

All the more so because he was urging that the government do it in order to enforce a law that was later declared unconstitutional as a violation of the Second Amendment, but such enthusiastic use of relentless propaganda methods by the government for any reason is frightening. Holder will likely protest that he didn’t mean brainwashing as it is defined in our Random House Dictionary — “a method for systematically changing attitudes or altering beliefs, originated in totalitarian countries, esp. through the use of torture, drugs or psychological stress techniques — but the “informational campaign” he laid out precisely meets the secondary definition of “any method of controlled systematic indoctrination, esp. one based on repetition or confusion.”

Alas, similar techniques are consistently used by the presidential administration that Holder serves. From the Hollywood-produced advertising and pop star paeans of the campaign to the blatant attempt to use the National Endowment for the Arts to coerce the “arts community” into shilling for Obamacare and other initiatives, the constant staged events and television appearances, and the Hollywood-produced ads and pop star paeans of the present, something suspiciously akin to brainwashing is constantly at work. There has been widespread speculation that the infamous Fast and Furious Operation was meant to provide more anti-gun for Holder’s Department of Justice, and this video will do little to quell that suspicion.

The careless use of the word “brainwashing” cost George Romney a good job, and it should do the same for Holder.

– Bud Norman

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