The will to close off debate” (Stanley 48).

The devastating
consequences of undermining propaganda show that a
democracy raided by propaganda can be used to conceal an undemocratic
reality. Democratic ideals require that a
government affords liberty to all of its citizens, but having liberty makes it
possible to use propaganda to gain power that can ultimately make a democracy
unstable. Although it is the hope in a democracy that
politicians and pundits engage in reasoned debate about the truth, this is not
the reality of our political discourse and instead, propaganda is used as the, “manipulation of the rational will to close
off debate” (Stanley 48). Because it is difficult to engage with and contest the idea that Muslims
are dangerous when it is typically introduced in implicit ways, debate tends to
be closed off. In addition, propaganda that
influences through emotional or non-rational appeals can play upon deeper
prejudices that rob, “us of the capacity for empathy towards them” (Stanley 127).
Because propaganda and its tactics lead people to associate Muslims as
inhumane, this ultimately undermines the ability of Muslims to employ their
voice because they are categorized as threatening and inferior. As a result,
the perspectives of Muslim Americans are excluded in public political debates
about immigration laws, refugee care and other issues that directly affect them.
Laws and policies regarding the lives of Muslims are enacted without taking
into consideration their perspectives and, therefore, are less legitimate and
just. Ultimately, American citizens cannot be rational actors who use
the democratic system to defend their interests and values if they are being
manipulated into an irrational public discussion.

            Throughout his book, Stanley
provides a theoretical explanation to why and how propaganda arises in a
liberal democratic society, but does not provide a strategy on overcoming this
propaganda and preventing it’s many consequences. Although it is necessary to
take steps to protect the right to live, which includes measures to prevent
terrorism, the current measures taken to counter terrorism are not proportionate
with our democratic values. Laws designed to protect people from the threat of
terrorism and the enforcement of these laws should be compatible with all
American’s rights and freedoms, including Muslim Americans. Therefore, a way of overcoming propaganda is not through
the media, education, or government, but the citizens themselves who are active
and creative agents of their common worlds. To be effective, propaganda must be
hidden from awareness, however, Briant argues that the, “rules which govern
propaganda (when, how, if and where it is used) should be debated” (Briant
249).

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Because propaganda relays messages mindlessly, the only
way to defend against it is to be more aware of the tactics being used. Because the American privileged elite will most likely
always have exclusive authority over knowledge and decision-making, at the very
least, the rules governing the use of propaganda should be transparent
and subject to enquiry. If public opinion corresponded to these decisions and the
intentions and goals of those employing propaganda were known, fresh
perspectives based on strong evidence could inform attempts to reform systems
in a democratic way and would ultimately encourage an informed electorate.

            Jason Stanley’s analysis of
propaganda in his book, How Propaganda
Works, extends beyond the examples he writes about and can inform us about
the undermining propaganda used against Muslims in our political and public
discourse today. Because
media, television, and the internet encompass our culture, it is nearly impossible
to escape the barrage of propaganda that exists in our everyday lives. In the
United States, headlines of destruction, reports of terrorist activity and stories
of the government’s daily efforts to enact legislation are pervasive. However,
because the undermining propaganda in these outlets link traditional
stereotypes about Muslims to these current events, people’s prejudices only
become reinforced with each exposure and their flawed ideologies continue to
shape their stereotypes. The consequences of propaganda are far worse than most
people consuming and even producing it realize and it ultimately contributes to
a less welcoming, less inclusive and less diverse nation. Although the current goal
of propaganda is to target the audience and help the speaker, propaganda should
instead be used as an exchange of ideas between the speaker and the audience,
where the speaker is conversing with the audience instead of speaking to them,
in order to stop undermining, and start enhancing the freedom, security, and
equality for all Americans.