Almost since its founding in 1923, Henry Luce’s Time Magazine has been something more and something other than a mere news magazine. More than any other American publication, Time Magazine has consciously if insidiously attempted to mold American identity, both by guiding Americans to see themselves in a certain light and to see America in an even more certain light. A believer in the silly Great Man Theory of History, an unabashed supporter of Mussolini and corporatists of all strips, Luce was naturally a fervent believer in the toxic notion of “American Exceptionalsim,” a notion that Time still reeks of today, if in a somewhat modified form. By 1941 Luce declared that the world had entered nothing less than the “America Century. ”
The son of a missionary, Luce retained a missionary zeal for his idea of America — corporate, patriarchal, and mindlessly patriotic — and was happy to use whatever tools he had at his disposal to help shape it into permanent existence.
In The Mighty Wurlitzer, an expose of how the Central Intelligence Agency had secretly funded citizen front groups “in the secret superpower struggle for hearts and minds in the Cold War,” author Hugh Wilford succinctly stated Time Magazine‘s special place in that universe where “news “ and ideology met, mated and propagated.
“The rightwing of the CIA’s covert network in the news magazine world was occupied by the mass-circulation Time. Like the New York Times, Henry Luce’s weekly provided CIA officers with journalistic credentials. “
And even if Luce is long dead and the Cold War is over, Time Magazine — the world’s largest weekly news magazine — continues to thrive and, with or without the help of the CIA, is still doing its best to pass off outright propaganda as news, still using its immense influence to shape the way Americans see themselves and their country.
The methods remains the same. Only the enemies and the saviors have changed.
Where there were once communists, there are now public school teachers and their evil unions. Where there was once the FBI exposing evil foes, there are now guileless multimillionaires and billionaires selflessly rescuing American innocents. In both cases, nothing less than the fate of the nation, is at stake. Just ask Joel Klein and Condi Rice.
Which brings us to the remarkable November 3, Time Magazine cover story titled Rotten Apples, which should win some kind of Weasel Word Award for Most Insidious Propaganda Writing of 2014.
Forget for a moment that not a single teacher was interviewed for an article promoting radical change in the teaching profession.
Remember the point is not to prove or even to persuade but to poison.
Consider simply the sheer amount of messages sausaged into a mere 21 words (including the title and articles. )
– The lie of the impossibility of firing a teacher (a lie confirmed by Time Magazine’s own reporting of Michelle Rhee’s firing of 266 teachers plus dozens of administrators)
– The need to bust teacher unions allowing the firing of bad teachers that will in turn lead directly to the flowering of American education and the recreation of an American Eden, despoiled by teacher unions.
– The need of wise, heroic and altruistic millionaires – especially tech millionaires who are somehow even wiser than real estate and hedge fund millionaires — to save the suffering children from a life of eternal damnation caused by impossible to rid bad teachers.
– The preference for private oligarchic rule over democratically run public institutions
– The supremacy of privatization in all human endeavors.
– And let us not underestimate for one moment the emotional reaction of the words “impossible to fire” on a workforce that is more degraded, overworked, and insecure every day.
Propaganda does not get much more insidious or richer than that, that much the more when it is passed off as news. Moreover, it matters little that the article inside was somewhat more nuanced: with a readership of 25 million, 20 million in the United States alone, like the deceitfully named Common Core States Initiative, the cover of Time Magazine reaches into every nook and cranny of the continental United States and its message is absorbed, as if by osmosis, by millions of exhausted, over worked Americans.
21 words for an entire ideology.
21 words to help poison the mind of an entire nation.
Edwards Bernays, “father of public relations” and a man whose methods should be studied by every high school student in America so as to inoculate themselves from them, would be proud. Exceedingly proud, as only a man with no moral boundaries whatsoever could be.
The public relations campaign to turn Americans against their children’s teachers and their children’s schools, of which the Time cover is an exemplary example of, has raged on, ceaseless and hydra headed, for over a decade now. This attack on the teaching profession is wholly without precedent in American history and, as no profession has ever undergone such as assault, wholly new to the American experience. So too is the unholy alliance of the America’s richest individuals, mightiest corporations and most powerful if spineless politicians.
All of today, as if to drive the point home, I received articles and emails telling of my governor, Andrew Cuomo’s latest betrayals and schemes, all intended to eventually privatize the public school system.
At times, I will admit, it feels as if the constant attacks are too much to bear.
More often, however, I know I have no choice but to fight this madness in every way that I can.
It is New Years Day 2015.
Like New Years Day 2014, and New Years Day 2013, and the one before that and the one before that, I am again preparing myself for a battle that I know has no end in sight.