Some of Barack Obama’s opponents have come to the conclusion that he may be preparing a modern version of Hitler’s Youth or perhaps something more subtle; this is almost certainly an exaggeration but there may be many things that deserve legitimate concern and a close look at his agenda may indicate that even though this isn’t a modern version of Hitler’s Youth this may be part of a corporate agenda to increase their influence in education without adequate input from the majority of the public or full disclosure of their agenda. This theory didn’t start long after Obama took office and one of the articles cited to back it up is the following New York Times article from 2009.
First of all, before I get to the article this was written in response to a more moderate article that wasn’t the most extreme article and was taken down by the author; at first I thought it was deleted by a board that I didn’t expect censorship from and intended to write about possible censorship. This isn’t the case but apparently a quick search of “Obama's Youth Army Hitler's Youth” or a variety of other similar words will turn up more conspiracy theories then many people can keep track of and most of them are almost certainly exaggerated or baseless. However dismissing it in it’s entirety would be inappropriate for two reasons; even though it is an exaggeration many people believe it and they may be the extremists that people may have to worry about; and a close look might indicate that they have some legitimate concerns but the most extreme conspiracy theorists may not be very good at sorting out the details. Furthermore many of you may suspect that I’m not good at sorting out the details, which is fine; if I’m right then eventually it will stand up to scrutiny if it is done reasonably; if I’m wrong you would of course be right to be skeptical.
The simplest thing to debunk should be the claim that it was formed by Obama since the New York Times article went to press on May 13 2009, less than four months after Barack Obama took office and it was based on activities that presumably must have taken place before he even won the election. Furthermore barrack Obama isn’t the charismatic leader that Hitler was and, as far as I can tell he hasn’t been expressing bigoted propaganda and hate speech as his most extreme critics have indicated. Frankly this should be easy for most people to recognize assuming they have been raised rationally and the people that do take this seriously almost certainly won’t change their views based on a thorough debunking effort unless they receive the appropriate counseling in person anyway so I’m not going to go too much farther than that to debunk the false claims but they clearly are there.
Another indication that this isn’t necessarily a federal plan to create a modern version of Hitler’s Youth is indicated by the claim that “The law enforcement programs are highly decentralized, and each post is run in a way that reflects the culture of its sponsoring agency and region.” I’m inclined to believe this is true; it would be difficult if not impossible to cover this up if it wasn’t. It would be possible to arrange for someone to set up a small scale effort to educate children in the manner they choose and pick a location that would provide the people that are most likely to go along with the program but I suspect that this is unlikely.
The bigger problem is the possibility that these children are being raised in a strict authoritarian manner; this may involve educating them from an early age by strict disciplinarian methods that often start with using corporal punishment starting when children are less than two years old. This is very similar to the articles I reviewed in Children Psychopaths? And Mitt Romney’s Bullying History. The basic point I made in those two posts and many others is that child abuse and corporal punishment leads to escalating violence and that it also teaches people to believe what they’re told without question. This is common when teaching people in an authoritarian manner and it is quite common among people that are inclined to join the military of the police.
This essentially means that the greatest threat that might be indicated by this isn’t necessarily a conspiracy, but it might be a sociological or psychological issue that could lead people to be inclined to follow their leaders. In the case of Hitler it was a single leader with a powerful hierarchy to enforce loyalty. That isn’t present in the current situation but there are still a lot of people being taught to blindly obey orders from a larger group of people that have a common ideology that is focused on fighting what they consider terrorism. One of the most extreme examples of this was indicated by a soldier that was a JBLM soldier sentenced for water-boarding his own daughter. This isn’t typical I’m sure and his lawyer claimed that he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, which I suspect is probably a major contributing factor but post-traumatic stress disorder that follows combat activities is almost certainly not a sole contributing factor for most soldiers that get in trouble after leaving the army. Post-traumatic stress disorder is almost certainly another step of escalating violence that comes after many other steps. This was almost certainly preceded by earlier problems before the soldier joined the military.
However using intimidation tactics or corporal punishment to teach toilet training or reading is actually much more common than many people realize especially if they were raised during after the so called “Spock generation” in the methods promoted by Benjamin Spock and many others that also contributed to the research at that time. This is actually a method that teaches children at a very early age that they should believe what their told from authority figures without question and there are still many people that use this method and think it is appropriate although they usually don’t use as extreme a version as they used to, which is why I suspect that the current indoctrination that is being used on many people isn’t quite as thorough and it may lead to more reform; but it is still very compelling so the problem shouldn’t be underestimated. Prior to his semi-retirement James Dobson has been promoting these methods to a lot of people that don’t subscribe to the methods that Spock and others that followed have recommended, as I attempted to explain in Dobson’s Indoctrination Machine. He may not be as active but there are still many others that have picked up where he left off that believe this is the appropriate method to educate children; although it results in children that believe what they’re told whether it makes sense or not.
This could be a partial explanation for why the police would follow orders in such a casual manner when they were ordered to pepper spray students by their superiors at UC Davis. These police officers weren’t necessarily taught to think about the reasons for the orders they were given to follow without thinking about the reasons behind the orders or if they’re justified. These protesters were making legitimate complaints about tuition increases that have been decided on by a small number of people without much if any input from the majority and they haven’t done much to explain their reasons for these increases. The cost of education has been rising at a much faster rate than inflation at a time when technology should make it easier to spread educational material much cheaper. Part of the reason that this isn’t resulting in a reduction of the costs of education is because of copyrights which make it illegal to distribute educational material without permission from the owner of the “intellectual property.” It costs more to control this educational material than it does to distribute it; yet the police don’t take this into consideration. This is just one of many methods they use to increase the cost of education without justification yet it isn’t the place of the police to question orders or understand them it is just their place to follow them.
The same goes when it comes to corporations that are destroying the environment and causing much more damage in many other ways including negligent homicide like the disaster at the BP oil rig which caused an explosion that directly killed workers due to negligence that was covered up. No arrest was made of the people at BP and Joe Barton even apologized but when the police were ordered to arrest protesters that complained about the obvious and blatant injustice they arrested the victims without question. This was repeated when well-connected bankers were involved in embezzling millions if not billions but once again instead of arresting the bankers that had connection the police arrested the protesters on several occasions.
They follow orders without question the way they were taught to.
The same goes for Lynndie England and the reason may be indicated in the following quote from the Guardian although many people may not recognize the significance.
She states that she was raised in a method that was considered normal even though she was hit so hard that a table tennis bat that her mother used to hit her broke; yet she doesn’t think that is wrong. The story about how she was coerced into writing a letter by her class mate that got her into trouble. This is not uncommon among people that were raised in this manner. They often go along with the crowd or disobey inappropriate orders without question.
In both cases the people that followed order at the bottom were the ones that took the blame for it while their superiors manipulated the system to avoid accountability. The people that took the blame spoke out about the fact that they believe they were unjustly blamed but it is unlikely that they were inclined to fully understand why they followed orders or how to take a major part in reforming the system that allows people at the bottom to take the blame while those that give the orders avoid accountability unless they receive help from others that are able to advise them and, hopefully not mislead them again.
Ironically many of the people that believe the most extreme versions of the “Obama’s Youth” conspiracy theories have been raised in the same manner and they go along with the crowd just as much as the police or the soldiers that obey illegal orders. The biggest difference is that they may be taking their views from a different “authority figure” that might be a demagogue that is manipulating their emotions. This could be someone like Glen Beck or Dick Army who was actually part of the establishment they are protesting against. This is ironic, many of them can’t see that their new leaders might be using them for the benefit of the same corporations that they have been protesting against or they misplace the blame when it should be those corporations they object to.
In the fifties through the seventies, or perhaps longer, the military did some research into Obedience to Authority, the most famous of which was done by Stanley Milgram and a widely known related research project commonly referred to as The Stanford Prison Experiment by Philip Zimbardo to better understand why people blindly obeyed orders during WWII, or so they claimed. As I indicated in the posts I just cited, if they really did want to understand why people obeyed orders without question and avoid allowing it to happen again they would attempt to educate the public about it in the most effective way possible; however this wasn’t done. Instead what they appear to have done is use it to develop improved indoctrination tactics in boot camp and possibly develop the techniques that Lynndie England was eventually taught to use although Philip Zimbardo denies any knowledge of this possibility. These experiments were funded with the support or funding from the Office of Naval Research and as indicated in the blogs about them Alfred McCoy has done some research to indicate why he believes that they may have been supported by the CIA.
The behavior of the police and Lynndie England and other soldiers should raise some serious doubts about whether they learned the lesson they indicated they wanted to or not or whether they actually had something else in mind. Whether they intentionally used this research to ensure that more people would obey orders even when they are wrong or not it is clear that more needs to be done to teach people that they need to think about the orders that they are given and more needs to be done to let the public know more about the research and methods that have been used to train our police and military since it is clear that we have to live with the consequences when they get out of control.
The Social Psychology community has been doing an enormous amount of research into understanding why people obey orders and it appears that they may be doing it in many cases so that they can do a more effective job manipulating people; which would mean that although the most extreme versions that the people that accept the “Obama’s Youth” theory may be exaggerated they may also have some partial legitimacy although they need a lot of review and correction. While they were doing research into obedience to authority many other researchers have been doing research into why violence escalates starting with early childhood abuse but the people who research obedience to authority have been reluctant to take this into consideration as I have indicated in the previous post about Children Psychopaths? And Mitt Romney’s Bullying History.
As I have been finishing up this blog a new video which was reported on Democracy Now has surfaced involving a heavily armed SWAT team that arrived in ten or more trucks to evict Sahara Donahue, an unarmed woman, who had the support of unarmed protesters. This has become surprisingly common in a country where many of us were taught for a long time that things like this doesn’t happen here, only in other authoritarian countries. I don’t think this is so common in many other parts of the country that might be less authoritarian but if more attention isn’t drawn to this type of activity then it could escalate and it could become more common or it could lead to enough outrage that it inspires people to stand up for reform. Colorado is, to the best of my knowledge, a conservative area where James Dobson has an enormous amount of influence and it is also the area where the Columbine, Youth With a Mission and Aurora shootings took place. I suspect that the majority of the people there may be taught to obey orders without question from an early age through strict disciplinarian measures starting with corporal punishment at a very early age. It is also the place where Barbara Coloroso, author of “Kids are Worth It” comes from; she has been attempting to educate people about better alternatives.
But in order for this to have an impact the activities like this have to come to a stop and the people in authority have to start being held accountable for their activities. For more information about this incident, including the video, see Occupy Denver: Harrowing account of the eviction of Sahara Donahue and Sheriffs, SWAT, and Assault Rifles.
Some of the people that have been expressing these theories have cited Obama’s “Corporation for National and Community Service” which is supposed to help people in need during disaster or other occasions by developing a partnership with private corporations that support it. Susanne Posel has implied that it is associated with the Explorers program as part of Obama’s plans to fight the war on terror in Obama, FEMA Create Civilian Army Trained In Domestic Preparedness. This is almost certainly an exaggeration, and a closer look at her record at Occupy Corporatism may indicate additional credibility problems, but it may be a legitimate problem with the efforts to increase corporate influence in community activities without adequate input from local people and it may be part of a pattern where decisions are made without input from people that implement the decisions.
If these programs are done well I think they would be a good idea and my impression is that they aren’t new at all although they may be new variation on old ideas. America Corp was developed by Bill Clinton and the Peace Corp was of course developed by John F Kennedy. These types of programs have been around for a long time and there have been many similar ones implemented at the local level which have done a lot of good, so they shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand.
In the seventies I participated in some community organization projects as a teen to clean up the local areas and pick up an enormous amount of litter which was way out of hand, much worse than anything I see near where I live now. This was organized by local teachers and parents to clean up parks and they recruited a lot of parents and students to help during a major cleanup day or weekend. Someone bought a few boxes of trash bags to fill up and that was all the investment that was needed. The rest was all volunteer work mostly from us children. We spread out over a large area and collected an enormous amount of trash. Most of us worked so far apart that we couldn’t see more than one or two of the rest and there may well of been a couple of people that might have run off or slacked off since they might have been out of sight out of mind; but we didn’t think about that and we accomplished a lot to clean the place up. This was followed up with some additional littering but it never got as bad again because the community was concerned about it and they would conduct another smaller cleanup effort if necessary.
There was nothing complicated about it and it accomplished its goal without a major amount of investment.
Today on occasion I see other cleanup efforts and they accomplish their goals as well but some of them aren’t quite the same. They often have signs that say this beach or park has been patrolled and cleaned by such and such sponsor which sounds nice. On occasion I have seen these cleanup crews come in and clean the area that they agreed to sponsor and they often come in a large group to pick up trash over their area. They seem to be concentrated in a small area and they sometimes wear shirts that were made for the occasion to let people know they were part of a volunteer cleanup crew. On at least one occasion after walking my dog when they came out just as I began my walk they were done by the time I came back from my walk and I found a large pile of trash bags waiting to the city to pick them up with the rest of the trash that were mostly empty and they had their promotional slogans about who was sponsoring them on all the bags, which presumably made them more expensive to produce and slightly less environmental friendly. They had people so crowded together that they were competing to find a piece of trash and they used ten times as many bags as they should have.
I just hate stupid people.
Don’t get me wrong I think it is a good idea for them to clean up the park but they didn’t have to buy special tee shirts for this simple project that we accomplished without any such thing thirty years ago; nor did they have to buy special bags that almost certainly cost much more than the plain bags that we used. On one occasion when they did one of these cleanup efforts they went to greater extravagances than usual and even created a big tent and had special bags to promote it and lots of signs; but there wasn’t anything spectacular about the cleanup effort.
I often get the impression that some of these organizations are more interested in selling tee shirts or something like that than they are in cleaning up parks or beaches. This appears to be part of what they call a “public private partnership.” There is always a great effort to give someone credit for doing all this cleanup but they usually rely on volunteers to do the actual work and they also conduct fund raising activities so the private corporations may be making a profit and getting credit for “helping” society even though their participation is making the efforts much less efficient than they would if they were done by sincere citizens that don’t have a separate profit or ideological motive impacting their decisions.
Ironically when they don’t have their cleanup efforts there is a middle aged lady that comes by the park a couple times a week in the morning and walks her dog; while she does this she carries a bag and picks up trash as she goes and puts it in the barrel; she reuses the same bag and covers a much larger area. There are many more people that often pick up a few pieces of trash here and there; including me although I usually only worry about the glass since it could be broken and harder to pick up then.
When these people do it they don’t make a fuss or hoopla about it and it is much more efficient than the efforts sponsored by those with another agenda.
Even when they are concerned with activities that may be beneficent to the public they may wind up doing things in an extremely foolish manner when the decisions are made by those not involved in the activities. On another occasion in a different city I saw one of these cleanup efforts and noticed that after picking up a piece of trash they took out a pad and made a mark; then they did it again. I couldn’t resist so I asked what they were writing down.
They were keeping a tally of how many cigarette butts they were picking up.
I wanted to scream.
It might be helpful to have some idea how much cigarettes are contributing to littering but it would be much easier to simply put them in a separate bag and either measure the volume or count them after wards or something like that. Something’s like this are so simple and they would figure them out quickly if they did so as they went along but if a planning committee does the thinking then someone else does the activities without flexibility things like this happens and it is extremely stupid. This is the kind of thing we were told were so bad about the Soviet Union where they had a centralized government bureaucracy make the decisions without input from the local people or any flexibility.
But this incompetence has nothing to do with creating something that would be considered similar to Hitler’s Youth. The bigger problem that is implied by this type of activities is who is making the decisions and is there real accountability. In many cases I suspect that there is little real accountability since the decision have been taken out of the hands of the people at the local level. For all their talk about sending the control back to the local levels that isn’t always what the government does. In many cases they have people acting at the local level to implement their own agenda like the activities being promoted by the American Legislative Exchange Council or ALEC. This has often involved the participation of corporations and Charter Schools including increased efforts to make schools more reliant of advertisers for their funding. Both Charter Schools and advertising have had a major impact on the way schools have been run and they put more control in the hands of the corporations and it is often done with less scrutiny.
One of the greatest impacts on education that corporations have had in the past has been Channel One which has been reviewed by Roy Fox in his book “Harvesting Minds.” this is just one of many efforts to increase the amount of advertising to children in schools but it is the most extreme since it requires students to watch TV controlled by advertisers including programs that pretend to be unbiased news. Whether it is the advertising at Channel one or any other advertising researchers have found that it impairs the ability of children to develop rational thinking skills and children that are subject to excessive advertising from an early age are less likely to recognize how deceptive they are and they also develop less critical thinking skills that enable them to sort through propaganda about political issues as well including wars. Psychologist Susan Linn, author of “Consuming Kids” has come to many of same conclusions.
The control of the education process by corporations from an early age is teaching them to adopt a fiscal ideology that doesn’t involve serious consideration of many other ideas and it often teaches false science when the real science contradicts the best interest of the corporate sponsors, as indicated in the following excerpt from Consuming Kids.
Susan Linn is also the founder of the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood which has been trying to get limits on the manipulation of children starting at a very early age or better completely ban it since it is doing a lot of long term damage to their development and even their ability to participate in the democratic process. Unfortunately she can’t compete with the enormous amount of influence that the corporations and the advertising industry buy with their campaign dollars and she can’t get nearly as much media attention as the opposition which is almost completely blacking her out from the corporate media. One simple and blatant example of how much influence the advertising industry has is the fact that when they conduct research to effectively manipulate children for their adverting instead of staying neutral, providing disclosure laws or banning this type of research altogether they pass laws about trade secrecy or proprietary information to keep them secret. Thi9s would outrage most parents if they know but they probably don’t since it doesn’t get much attention. Susan Linn also contributed to [PDF] an American Psychological Association Report on Advertising
Another effort that may be in the works that could increase the amount of corporate3 influence on children is a potential Presidential Youth Council which is being considered now. Its stated goal is to create a youth advisory board to inform congress and the president on youth issues; which sounds like a good idea and it probably would be if it was done right but the plan they currently have may do more harm than good and increase corporate control over the advisory process. The following is an excerpt from their web page.
This reinforces the assumption that the two party system covers all views and is balanced; this assumption if not even remotely true. Both parties have been heavily influenced by corporations and the leadership of the parties tends to be the ones that are most committed to the corporations not the best interest of children. These are the same politicians that pass laws protecting the secrecy of psychological manipulation of children instead of acting to protect them and they’re the ones that should choose which children to pick for this council? Furthermore it also reinforces the assumption that we should go to corporations for money whenever they need anything. These corporations rarely if ever provide this money without conditions and they have a record of including conditions that involve the indoctrination of children to accept their ideologies.
Unless these issues are solved this council would almost certainly do more harm than good.
On top of that the corporate media has almost complete control over what is presented in the mass media and they have no accountability to go along with it. This isn’t intended as a call to censorship as it is usually interpreted by those that support the current system but for the most part the opposite. The corporate media has consolidated into a small number of companies and although they have many channels they’re almost all owned by the same six media outlets and they put out almost all the same type of material. It is mostly sex and violence and it is done primarily for the purpose of helping them sell anything and everything that can help them increase their profits.
The most effective way to increase profits doesn’t involve providing the best educational material and certainly not educational material that would teach children how to recognize the deception in the epidemic volume of ads targeting children at a young age; so they don’t provide any. Instead they prove an enormous amount of obsession TV and it is being presented by the same people that study how to manipulate children’s emotion for the purpose of advertising. Should we believe that they would use commercials to manipulate the emotions of children but pass when it comes to the choices of programming they provide? This seems especially unlikely when you look at the programming and realize that it is clearly designed to manipulate emotion for one reason or another.
Clearly there should be much more diversity in the programming and in the people that choose what types of show they provide. People like Susan Linn are completely shut out of the decision making process when it comes to corporate programming but those that want to profit from manipulating children have an enormous amount of influence. The corporate influence on children with their programming combined with an authoritarian upbringing is almost certainly related to the fact that some of these children learn to “like shooting them,” as Cathy said in the New York Times article; “I like the sound they make. It gets me excited.” If corporations have a problem with the treatment of the children like the sexual abuse problem of them that was suffered from some police then they have more priorities than the best interest of the children; they may be more interested in protecting their profits than fixing the problem as quickly as possible.
Whether corporations are involved or not, the statement that, “the law enforcement programs are highly decentralized, and each post is run in a way that reflects the culture of its sponsoring agency and region;” is worth some additional consideration. If law enforcement officers are trained in areas with different cultures and might be chosen because they are more inclined to follow orders without question then it should be disclosed to the public and they should have some say in it and they should have the advice of sincere and diverse points of view from those that are more educated on the subject.
This program is clearly not exactly like Hitler’s Youth but if enough scrutiny is applied there are still a lot of characteristics that they may have in common and they should be considered carefully. Furthermore just because this doesn’t fit all the characteristics that were present in Hitler’s Youth doesn’t mean that Obama and the mainstream establishment, including Mitt Romney aren’t a threat to freedom and civil rights. Obama has continued to conduct drone strikes and many other activities that have been killing innocent people and Mitt Romney has indicated that when it comes to these policies he agrees and might actually even become tougher if he thinks it suits whatever political agenda he has at any given time. Evidence of this has been clearly indicated by an article last May in the New York Times about his Kill list, Secret ‘Kill List’ Proves a Test of Obama’s Principles and Will which spurred an editorial by Andrew Rosenthal “President Obama’s Kill List.” More recently Debbie Wasserman Schultz laughed off a question about it as if it wasn’t happening and claimed she wasn’t even aware of it and indicated she didn’t think it was a serious question as reported in Democracy Now, DNC Chair, Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz Unaware of U.S. "Kill List."
Jon Letman wrote a worthy piece at Susan Ohanian.org about how his daughter was being taught at school, Lowering the Bar: Kindergarten Recruitment and the following are some other related articles that might be worth checking out on the subject as well for those of you who are interested.
Militarization at Susan Ohanian.org
The National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth (NNOMY)
Education as Enforcement:Militarization and Corporatization of Schools By Kenneth J. Saltman
Students Not Soldiers By John Judge
Militarizing the Homeland by: Dahr Jamail and Jason Coppola
The Complex: How the Military Invades Our Everyday Lives By Nick Turse
Police Explorer Programs at Go law enforcement.com
A Few New Developments in The Makings of a Police State