WHAT IS MANUFACTURING CONSENT?
A form of manipulation of public opinion through propaganda. It is a process of the selection of perspectives that become news and how that news is reported that biases the public in favor of those perspectives.
The term was originally coined by American writer and political commentator Walter Lippmann in 1922 and was used as the title for a book written by Noam Chomksy in 1988 that described how powerful people can amplify private interest over public welfare using mainstream media.
MANUFACTURING CONSENT AND PALESTINE
The words used by the media hold the power to evoke emotions, sway opinions, and influence narratives.
Selective language and one-sided, biased perspectives have been used throughout history to justify violence against entire groups of people and continue to be weaponized against Palestinians today.
EXAMPLES OF MANUFACTURING CONSENT
Dehumanization is when one group denies the humanity of another group, and Genocide Watch lists it as one of the Ten Stages of Genocide. When a group has their humanity taken away, it is easier to justify violence against them.
Mainstream media and members of the U.S. and the Israeli governments have used dehumanizing rhetoric to refer to Palestinians, including calling them “human animals,” “monsters in Gaza,” and “children of darkness.”
Passive voice is used to emphasize an action rather than the subject. Using passive voice when reporting on Israel’s atrocities against the Palestinians, without mentioning a perpetrator, is used to intentionally shield Israel from blame.
News headlines report that Israelis die actively after being “killed” or “butchered” by Hamas, while Palestinians passively “lose their lives” or “die” with the attacker being left unnamed.
The people of Gaza are also often labeled in media as “human shields” to turn them into collateral damage, remove the blame from Israel and place it on the Palestinians, and justify Israel’s targeting of civilians, mosques, churches, and hospitals.
Many media outlets use terms like “war,” “conflict,” and “clashes” to describe the ongoing violence against the Palestinians. These terms suggest that there is a disagreement between two equal parties and downplays the genocide and ethnic cleansing Israel is committing against the Palestinians.
False narratives and misinformation have been circulated by mainstream media, Israeli officials and spokespeople—and even President Biden—including that Hamas beheaded 40 Israeli babies, Gaza used crisis actors, and IDF soldiers found a shift schedule for Hamas kidnappers in a hospital.
Although being proven false, these claims attempt to showcase the Palestinian people as deserving of the violence from Israel.
SOCIAL MEDIA AND MANUFACTURING CONSENT
Although they are newer forms of media, platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have played a role in manufacturing consent of genocide in Gaza. Misinformation, false content, and dehumanizing rhetoric have been widely circulated online.
Social media platforms have also been accused of silencing accounts that are pro-Palestine or post content showing the reality of Israel’s violence in Gaza through content removal, account suspension, limiting engagement features (follows, likes, tags), feature restrictions, and “shadow banning.”
HOW TO COMBAT MISINFORMATION
Intellectual self-defense is one of the ways to combat manufactured consent. It involves acknowledging how the media uses bias to influence its audiences, remaining objective, asking questions, and finding trusted news sources.
CAIR-LA has compiled a list of media outlets and human rights organizations that we trust:
- Al Jazeera
- IMEU: Institute for Middle East Understanding
- Human Rights Watch
- Amnesty International
- Middle East Eye