On the State of Political Rage, Part 13: the Power of the Headline–and the Headliners

Phyllis Beveridge Nissila

In what seems to be a carefully orchestrated psychological operation one might call “rage against all things–any things–Trump” but not just to change or amend his administration by due process but to destroy it by destroying him, the power of a compliant press is key–even down to the crafting of a simple news header.

I believe a recent headline illustrates this: “Kim Jong Un’s (sic) sister (Kim Yo-jong) is stealing the show at the Winter Olympics.”

Why do I suggest such a headline (and article) might well be compliant with the rage against Trump movement?

Surely, some might think, I am reading way too much into this…riding some kind of weird conspiracy train. Others might immediately label me a fascist/KKK member/Hitlerite/insert any of the monikers given to anybody who has some reservations about the anti-Trump movement…even if they, too, express some reservations about him (there is no perfect politician).

For it seems there is no debatable area of engagement anymore.

You are either for or against.

No in-between.

Topic closed.

But consider:

Though the CNN article referenced does include the skepticism that many people, particularly South Koreans, have about Yo-jong’s presence, which seems fair treatment, here is the political rub: “(Yo-jong) is seen by some as her brother’s answer to American first daughter Ivanka Trump…” with some trailing notes about how “(North Korea) too has young women that are capable and are the future leadership.”

Say what?

Comparing Kim Yo-jong* with Ivanka Trump?

Well, it’s not really that hard to connect the anti-Trump dots–in this case involving his reportedly favored daughter, Ivanka–whether one agrees or disagrees with her influence on her father’s administration or with all of his policies and behaviors. By presenting Kim Yo-jong, also referenced as her father’s “favorite” and certainly influential in her brother’s regime, as somehow the political equivalent of Ivanka Trump, the analogy is suggested–and the vulnerable bite the bait.

Hmm, the anti crowd might conclude, more like feel, emotions rising, “Yeah! Trump and his daughter are bloody tyrants, too!”

And here is how the dots may be connected, how readers may be persuaded to accept the analogy–or any other analogy equating anything or anyone affiliated in any way with President Trump as only pure evil. It is done by the use of persuasion via fallacies such as guilt by association,  black-and-white thinking, and  straw man illusion.

These are some of the most effective means of propaganda available to clever word smiths.

Not that propaganda works that logically, efficiently, or obviously.

Indeed, much of it, ginned up in the constant drumbeat of insinuation, suggestion, and most importantly, repetition, is a layered process utilizing visuals, peer-pressure, and compliant news outlets.

And it doesn’t hurt to employ psychological warfare as well, such as:  “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it. Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions. (This is cruel, but very effective. Direct, personalized criticism and ridicule works.)” (Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals).

But of course, this must be done subtly, for as Alinsky also notes, “True revolutionaries do not flaunt their radicalism. They cut their hair, put on suits and infiltrate the system from within.”

Why is this all so effective?

Because not only does the resultant emotional frenzy drown out reasonable debate and discussion, it can stop analytical thought altogether–and in this case, just when it is most needed.

Once critical thinking is drowned out, anger morphs to rage and chaos is not far away in the urgency of the moment (whether the moment is real or orchestrated).

What real dangers might be discerned, what shadow conspiracies revealed–and what counter measures might then be developed–get lost in the emotional and physical melee, as the fog of rage overpowers investigation and makes truth hard to discern.

What might have been effective analysis and change then becomes a lose-lose proposition.

Except for those who view a crisis as an excellent means to a coup because the people who might question and investigate are distracted by and in the conflict…

Thus, a simple headline can draw in the unsuspecting as well as the suspecting and thereby take chaos and overthrow to the next level, albeit subtly.

Or, it can make the wary even more so and prompt them to step off–and remain off–the rage grid and see what may be done in the vast area of possibilities that lay between “either/or,” “black/white,” and “us/them”.

That is if there is enough time to offset the power of another mechanism that may well be at work here: divide and conquer...


It’s hard, though, as rage often and tragically leaves reason and relationships in its terrible wake. One does, sometimes, long to just keep head down,  eyes closed, ears shut. Maintain what peace there might be left at dinner tables, in halls of power, at negotiations, while darkness gathers in volume and intensity to work its ultimate plan: destruction.

And here I address the biggest picture: the primordial battle between good and evil that festers to greater or lesser degrees as we comply–or not–with its forces, for it seems that what’s going down just now is more of an existential crisis than a national crisis, and we can’t ignore it, anymore, considering what’s at stake.

With what self-control, care, and compassion we can muster, we must speak, write, vote–and pray to know which corner of the conflict might be ours and how to then proceed so that the love of God, people, and country is not abandoned in the battle, because “Somebody” would really like that to happen.

And we can’t let it.

We can’t let “him,”  i.e., evil personified–the Devil of a thousand faces, tribes, tongues, and eras–win, because he opposes all of us, political parties of any given pocket of time notwithstanding.

But here is the good news: there is still time, as long as there is time, if not for the redemption of nations, for the redemption of people by the love of God Who is the ultimate overthrower of all that divides, conquers, and destroys.


For my part, I encourage you to carry on: discern, think, and follow through, keeping love at the forefront, against which there is no law and no power able to conquer. If evil were stronger, given the history of mankind bloodied by one conflict after another driven by the archetypal–and real–forces of greed and power, we would have extinguished ourselves far, far sooner.

And, especially, I implore you to get off the destructive rage grid.


See other entries in this series here.

*Kim Yo-jong, sister to North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, one of the bloodiest dictators in modern history, is his Deputy Director of the Propaganda and Agitation Department of the Workers’ Party. That title alone might shed critical light on who she really is, that is, if the compliant media has any idea of what such a title and job description might look like in real time…for political dissenters in North Korea…those who are not yet imprisoned, tortured, or executed.

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1 Response to On the State of Political Rage, Part 13: the Power of the Headline–and the Headliners

  1. Carl Gordon says:

    This really needed to be written, and I didn’t even know it!


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