“You furnish the pictures and I’ll furnish the war.” William Hearst to Frederic Remington

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The Correspondent by Frederic Remington

This Thanksgiving pray for our leaders. They either don’t know what they’re doing–or they do.

Remember a few years ago when the American people and their  soldiers refused to support overthrowing Syria? Let’s do a little comparative history, shall we?

I’ll quote extensively from Wikipedia (not always the best source of info, but in this case they get it right) about a “Splendid Little War.”

“The Spanish–American War (April–August 1898) is considered to be both a turning point in the history of propaganda and the beginning of the practice of yellow journalism.

It was the first conflict in which military action was precipitated by media involvement. The war grew out of U.S. interest in a fight for revolution between the Spanish military and citizens of their Cuban colony. American newspapers fanned the flames of interest in the war by fabricating atrocities which justified intervention in a number of Spanish colonies worldwide.

Several forces within the United States were pushing for a war with Spain. Their tactics were wide-ranging and their goal was to engage the opinion of the American people in any way possible. Men such as William Hearst, the owner of The New York Journal was involved in a circulation war with Joseph Pulitzer of the New York World and saw the conflict as a way to sell papers. Many newspapers ran articles of a sensationalist nature and sent correspondents to Cuba to cover the war.

The situation prior to the Spanish–American War was particularly tense. Several members of the media, such as William Randolph Hearst, and of the military were calling for intervention by the United States to help the revolutionaries in Cuba. American opinion was overwhelmingly swayed and hostility towards Spain began to build. American newspapers ran stories of a sensationalist nature depicting fabricated atrocities committed by the Spanish. These stories often reflected on how thousands of Cubans had been displaced to the country side in concentration camps. Many stories used depictions of gruesome murders, rapes, and slaughter. During this time there was a riot in Havana by those sympathetic to the Spanish. The printing presses of newspapers that had criticized the actions of the Spanish Army were destroyed.

In the days following the sinking of the USS Maine, Hearst ran a story with the heading “The War Ship Maine was Split in Two by an Enemy’s Secret Infernal Machine”. The story told how the Spanish had planted a torpedo beneath the USS Maine and detonated it from shore. Hearst soon followed this article with one containing diagrams and blueprints of the secret torpedoes used by Spain. This Article was so convincing that even Captain Sigsbee of the USS Maine, who put in an official statement that judgment and opinion should be suspended until further report, now believed the Spanish were responsible for sinking his ship.

Many stories like the one published by Hearst were printed across the country blaming the Spanish military for the destruction of the USS Maine. These stories struck a chord with the American people stirring public opinion up into a divided frenzy, with a large group of Americans wanting to attack and another wanting to wait for confirmation. The Americans that wanted to attack wanted to remove Spain from power in many of their colonies close to the U.S. Those easily persuaded by the Yellow Journalism eventually prevailed, and American troops were sent to Cuba.”

ANY THOUGHTS??

QUOTE: “. . .the people shake off their state of dependence just long enough to select their master and then relapse into it again.” Alexis de Tocqueville

“I seek to trace the novel features under which despotism may appear in the world.

The first thing that strikes the observation is an innumerable multitude of men, all equal and alike, incessantly endeavoring to procure the petty and paltry pleasures with which they glut their lives.

Each of them, living apart, is as a stranger to the fate of all the rest; his children and his private friends constitute to him the whole of mankind. As for the rest of his fellow citizens, he is close to them, but he does not see them; he touches them, but he does not feel them; he exists only in himself and for himself alone; and if his kindred still remain to him, he may be said at any rate to have lost his country.

Above this race of men stands an immense and tutelary power, which takes upon itself alone to secure their gratifications and to watch over their fate.

That power is absolute, minute, regular, provident, and mild. It would be like the authority of a parent if, like that authority, its object was to prepare men for manhood; but it seeks, on the contrary, to keep them in perpetual childhood: it is well content that the people should rejoice, provided they think of nothing but rejoicing.

For their happiness such a government willingly labors, but it chooses to be the sole agent and the only arbiter of that happiness; it provides for their security, foresees and supplies their necessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages their principal concerns, directs their industry, regulates the descent of property, and subdivides their inheritances: what remains, but to spare them all the care of thinking and all the trouble of living?

Landscape by John Francis Murphy

landscape by John Francis Murphy

Thus it every day renders the exercise of the free agency of man less useful and less frequent; it circumscribes the will within a narrower range and gradually robs a man of all the uses of himself. The principle of equality has prepared men for these things;it has predisposed men to endure them and often to look on them as benefits.

After having thus successively taken each member of the community in its powerful grasp and fashioned him at will, the supreme power then extends its arm over the whole community.

It covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.”

DEMOCRACY IN AMERICA by Alexis de Tocqueville

Landscape by Henry Ward Ranger

Landscape by Henry Ward Ranger

**Featured painting Pastoral by Jerome Thompson