American propaganda works so well that we still have people out here thinking it was totally fine and justified that the United States dropped two atomic bombs on Japanese civilians, killing well over 100,000 innocent people. It works so well that, even though the United States is the only country to ever use a nuclear bomb in warfare, people think that the United States is still the only qualified entity to invade other countries in order to stop them from having nuclear weapons. It works so well that you can read all about every war crime committed by the United States all around the world, with little to no government censorship, and that STILL doesn’t make people rise up in anger. It works so well that you can read accounts of the CIA or FBI literally trying to brainwash Americans into total subservience and people STILL won’t resist.
Americans put the Soviets to shame in how effective their propaganda is. It’s not even close.
I would never have admitted it, or thought to say it, but looking back, I know that deep in my consciousness I thought that America was at the end of some evolutionary spectrum of civilisation, and everyone else was trying to catch up.
American exceptionalism did not only define the US as a special nation among lesser nations; it also demanded that all Americans believe they, too, were somehow superior to others. How could I, as an American, understand a foreign people, when unconsciously I did not extend the most basic faith to other people that I extended to myself? This was a limitation that was beyond racism, beyond prejudice and beyond ignorance. This was a kind of nationalism so insidious that I had not known to call it nationalism; this was a self-delusion so complete that I could not see where it began and ended, could not root it out, could not destroy it.
American exceptionalism had declared my country unique in the world, the one truly free and modern country, and instead of ever considering that that exceptionalism was no different from any other country’s nationalistic propaganda, I had internalised this belief. Wasn’t that indeed what successful propaganda was supposed to do?
“It is different in the United States,” I once said, not entirely realising what I was saying until the words came out. I had never been called upon to explain this. “We are told it is the greatest country on earth. The thing is, we will never reconsider that narrative the way you are doing just now, because to us, that isn’t propaganda, that is truth. And to us, that isn’t nationalism, it’s patriotism. And the thing is, we will never question any of it because at the same time, all we are being told is how free-thinking we are, that we are free. So we don’t know there is anything wrong in believing our country is the greatest on earth. The whole thing sort of convinces you that a collective consciousness in the world came to that very conclusion.”
“Wow,” a friend once replied. “How strange. That is a very quiet kind of fascism, isn’t it?”