The Propagandists Problem with Propaganda

We all know that propaganda lies, and who knows it better than the propagandist himself. But in a way, propaganda is always the other sides propaganda. Most people would not classify their own media output as propaganda – at least not to the outside world. That used to be different and I keep stumbling upon the fact that Joseph Goebbels was head of the “Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda“ … what a title! But today, propaganda sounds bad and therefore it is mostly used to classify the outpour of the other side.

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What happens though, when two groups utilizing propaganda collide? It might not be enough to classify the other sides productions as propaganda, more might be needed. An interesting case is a video from Yemen, that has been released recently, entitled “The Hollywood Reality of Al Bagdadi Group” (sic!). “Al Bagdadi” refers to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the head of ISIS. This video has been released by a group associated to Al Qaeda, which has a deep rooted hatred for ISIS.

The video shows a guy, who’s face is blurred, claiming to be a former ISIS member, who discusses the way he was involved in the staging of a recent propaganda video. In front of a monitor, he explains certain scenes from the video and how they are manipulated Later he is shown in a house that was apparently been used as a set for the video and he even reenacts a scene, where on of his ISIS colleagues was posing as a dead Houthi fighter. The blood, that can be seen in the original video, he claims, was not blood, but merely Vimto, a dark red soft drink.

I find it quite fascinating, that this kind of “educational video” is produced by a group that uses the same techniques to produce their own propaganda. I wonder if the people watching this video are going to be more doubtful about the next Al Qaeda video, they encounter.

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