Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Yes they can!

A long time ago I posted about the ideology of war. The post basically describes some research done by Hugh Nibley concerning the rhetoric of war. This rhetoric was an an attempt by the "villains" in the Book of Mormon to present themselves as heroes.

The Lamanites only fought to regain their rights "stolen" by Nephi and his descendants. Korihor was only trying to free an oppressed populace. The Zoramites just wanted to live on their own until they were subjected to Nephite cultural Imperialism, that is, the preaching of Alma and the conversion of large segments of the Zoramite population. I have no doubt that if we had more of the words of King Noah he would say that his excessive building projects were designed as a show of strength against Lamanite aggression and were thus protecting his people. And the Gadianton robber, Giddianhi, simply wished to reclaim his rights which the Nephites had taken from him.

The point is that you rarely find somebody proudly proclaims they are overthrowing freedom, leading a murderous rebellion, or seeking wars of aggression. Even Hitler conquered territory claiming to correct the wrongs of the Versailles Treaty, seeking to bring freedom to Germans in other lands, or seeking a joining (Anschluss) with other Germans. Terrorists obfuscate their true nature and tactics by claiming the mantle of "freedom fighter". In short, dictators will find more subtle ways to cloak and or justify their actions:

We need to continually parse and examine the words that people use to justify their actions. We receive great training in the scriptures, since we already know who the "bad guys" are. And even Moroni [1] had to rally the people to the cause of righteousness. Real life is a bit more tricky, but we can and should apply the lessons we learn to modern situations.

For example, I will demonstrate how even singing about hope and change can have ominous connotations. I came across this video from 2008. It was without a doubt the creepiest thing I saw the entire election. And the "Pyongyang Remix" shows why. I don't think Obama is Hitler, but this video clearly shows how even lofty and inspiring rhetoric can really be used as a tool for political control by real or potential dictators.

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