Three months ago I warned
that the BN/mainstream media (MSM) complex was taking a page from the playbook of the strongly partisan, highly vindictive American media.
To briefly recap, the American media - dominated by liberal Democrats - mocked and misrepresented Sarah Palin as a sexy, but brainless airhead. This was to protect their favoured candidate Barack Obama and clear the way for his 2008 election as president.
Taking no chances, the media kept up the attacks even afterwards - to the point that no casual observer will take Sarah Palin seriously today. I should know, I got plenty of mindlessly reflexive criticism from Malaysian commentators for not regarding her as a pure bimbo! Quod erat demonstrandum.
This is a classic tactic of Saul Alinsky, who wrote in his book 'Rules for Radicals':
Rule 12: Pick the target, freeze it, personalise it, and polarise it. Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions. (This is cruel, but very effective. Direct, personalised criticism and ridicule works.)
Barack Obama is a student of Alinskyite tactics, and the American media's use of these tactics in belittling his critics has greatly benefited him and his agenda.
Anyway, I surmised that the Malaysian mainstream media - owned and controlled by the BN's component parties - was taking note of the effectiveness of its American big brother's tactics.
Anwar Ibrahim is being smeared with allegation after allegation - sodomy, sex videos, lackey of American Zionists - simply to tarnish him in the eyes of Malaysians, foreigners and even (especially!) opposition members.
You want proof? Evidence that this is really happening?
Look no further than the MCA-owned newspaper, The Star
, which on Aug 28 published a very lengthy piece
about Anwar Ibrahim's travails entitled 'Weighed down by a flawed image'. Some excerpts:
- Anwar used to look good for his age, but the sex video controversy has really weighed him down;
- Anwar has been further compromised by the sex video controversy. Nothing has handicapped him and his partners as much as the video. It has raised doubts in the minds of people, especially Malays in the rural areas;
- "The whole problem with Anwar is not the sex thing. The problem with him is that he is not leading. He is just not focused at all. We are so close yet so far and it's all because of him," said a DAP MP;
- Pakatan used to ride on his name and prestige. Today, he is clinging on to Pakatan as he struggles to wade through his personal problems and his allies feel he is like an albatross around their neck;
- "He is not going to be my leader, whether he is found guilty or not. This guy has too many problems. He was a major factor in the last election but now he is zero to me";
- All those sex-related accusations, said Dr Ong, create the impression that Anwar has skeletons to hide, that he is morally and spiritually unfit to lead. The danger is that as the allegations build up, those who are sympathetic will decrease; and.
- All those tawdry details about his private life have overshadowed his track record as a political leader and, like it or not, there will be people who think his behaviour has made him unworthy of representing them.
Refer to Alinksy's Rule 12 again. The BN/MSM complex has picked Anwar Ibrahim, frozen him in endless trials so he cannot do anything worthwhile, headlined his personal ethics as the main focus, and turned him into a divisive figure (‘Should Pakatan Rakyat dump him to save itself?').
He is being slowly cut off from even diehard support and is painted as a bullying pervert to isolate him from public sympathy. He is being cruelly but effectively targeted with criticism and ridicule, which has shown to be easier than targeting Pakatan itself with legitimate political questions.
So it doesn't matter if Sodomy II ends in a conviction or not. The powers-that-be don't need Anwar to be jailed - that would actually result in more local and foreign sympathy for him.
No, all that the BN/MSM complex needs is for the dog-and-pony show to be continued as long as possible. Anwar will be so worn out, and the public so sick of the whole sordid saga, that he will be finished as a champion of Pakatan and a figurehead of the opposition. One threat down.
Caveat audiens! If they succeed against Anwar, the BN/MSM complex will be encouraged to further use Alinskyite tactics against whomever else they perceive to be a challenge to their stranglehold on power.
Their role model, the American media, has already shifted targets to any Republican candidate who might be an obstacle to Barack Obama's 2012 re-election. To wit: Michele 'Crazy Eyes, Queen of Rage' Bachmann, Mitt 'Sacred Underwear' Romney and Rick 'Bush's Third Term'' Perry.
If Nik Aziz or Hadi Awang or Lim Guan Eng or Wan Azizah takes the helm of Pakatan, he or she too will be subjected to a concerted assault on character and personal life.
Indeed, we even saw it with Bersih 2.0 ("Ralliers are just greedy London-style rioters bribed with RM50 apiece!"), Parti Sosialis Malaysia ("These six are communist insurgents!") and alternative media ("RPK is a murtad, Zionist stooge!"). Go after the people, not the institution!
How can the targets of these 'Malaysia Juga Boleh' Alinskyite attacks counter such a one-sided assault?
They can quietly stand tall and firm and hope to weather the storm; or they can use the same dirty tactics to give the BN/MSM complex a taste of their own foul medicine; or they can neutralise the lies with the truth - accusation by accusation.
The first option will surely leave them standing alone - and with some dignity remaining if they are fortunate - as those who are fickle minded among the public will be swept away by the powerful tides of BN-sponsored and MSM-pushed opinion.
The second will gradually turn them into the same Nietzsche monster and abyss they are facing - and why should we support them then? The third option is already accounted for by Alinsky - the target will be worn down just by being forced onto the labourious defensive.
There is a fourth option. Look at what the essence of Alinsky's Rule 12 is - it is to focus all attention on the person. It is to shift the narrative away from the cause that the person and his institution represent.
Thus, the way to negate this tactic is to refuse to let the spotlight be wrenched away from the real issues at hand.
This has proven its potential in Bersih 2.0, where the unfettered alternative media and engaged citizenry combined to form a formidable counter to the BN/MSM complex.
More and more Malaysians are becoming sceptical of the Orwellian fare that the BN/MSM complex expects us to meekly swallow. After all, we are the world's most connected and consistent Facebook users - plenty of profile pictures were changed to Bersih yellow.
Anwar and sodomy and sex videos as they may be, Malaysians united and rallied and stood together through media smears and tear gas and chemical-laced water cannon. Non-partisan, noble ideals were their true figurehead. (And the BN/MSM complex doubts the claim that Bersih is not about the opposition.)
To use American politics as an example one more time, Barack Obama's popularity and re-election prospects among the public have fallen precipitously, despite the best efforts of his water-carriers in the media. Fantastical media portrayals can only cover up the reality of persistent unemployment, a stagnant economy and a golf-and-vacation-obsessed president for so long.
The same goes for the Malaysian situation. Our own Orwellian 'Ministry of Truth' can only steer public sentiment to one side so far, before the insulted populace bucks against the reins. This is especially so without the monopoly on information that they used to enjoy.
Meanwhile, the targets of the BN/MSM complex's coordinated attacks must resist the temptation to throw in the towel and leave the ring early. Each individual must give as hard a fight as possible. Isolated or not, cumulatively they will wear down the Alinskyites in a fitting turn of events.
So let them trot out Rule 12 all they like - we will not let it distract us from the real issues of truth, justice and purity in government. We can dodge Alinskyite attempts to control the narrative by simply ignoring their provocative catcalls, and steadfastly keeping our eyes on their own ugly truths that they are trying to hide.