Myth of Propaganda in the Balkans and Rwanda Essay

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Mass Manipulation and Genocide: The Myth of Propaganda in the Balkans and Rwanda War and conquest have been among the most enduring traits of humankind throughout the ages. While we would all like to believe that we are, by nature, a peaceful species, we still understand there are some things worth fighting for, and given the appropriate context, there are some things worth killing for. As reasoning beings, we hope that if violence is the only option it is for a clear and legitimate purpose. That is why it was so confounding to hear of such heinous acts of senseless violence as stories from Germany began to emerge after World War II. The world shuddered as the actions of Hitler’s henchmen attempting to eradicate entire ethnic groups…show more content…
Indeed, the propaganda employed through various media was instrumental in the rise of nationalism and the fomenting of fear and ethnic hatred in the Balkans and in Rwanda. It is clear that propaganda is a powerful tool and its implementation played a significant role in these conflicts, but the extent of that role is less certain. Does propaganda alone have the power to incite genocide and ethnic cleansing? Are certain media more effective in achieving extremist goals than others? Could we stop genocides before they start by identifying and targeting outlets of propaganda? As this paper will demonstrate, the social, political and economic climates of nations in question—in this case, Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia—determine how effective state-sponsored propaganda is at crystallizing divisions among people and inspiring one group to attempt to eradicate another. Before we can understand how propaganda operates, it is important to define exactly what we mean by “propaganda.” The term itself dates back to 1622 when Pope Gregory XV established a papal bull with the title Sacra Congregatio de Propaganda Fedei, an effort to counter the Protestant movement. Thus from its inception, propaganda was employed to establish a sense of otherness within populations, inspiring negative reactions among Protestants and positive feelings among
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