The current buzzword is “fake news”. In the 1930’s it would have been called the “big lie” as Goebbles perpetuated his propaganda. The point is made that if you say something often enough and loud enough people will begin to accept it as truth. So it was that the hatred against the Jews depicted in Hitler’s Mein Kampf came to be systematically institutionalized in the Nuremberg Laws a decade later. The slow unraveling of nothing less than genocide against the Jews was legal under German law. They were not the only people to face discrimination. Hitler railed against Slavs, communists, blacks, and many other groups. Where does the press figure into all of this?
It would be false to argue that modern, industrialized societies are not capable of genocide. Images of concentration camps are still painful. Ethnic cleansing is used as a euphemism to explain crimes against humanity whether they be in Bosnia, Cambodia or Rwanda. How is it that one group can conduct gross violations of human rights against another group to the point of genocide?
In my Master’s thesis I explored the role of the media with respect to the period of the “Indian Wars”, specifically the period from the outbreak of hostilities in May 1862 in Minnesota to the massacre at Wounded Knee, South Dakota on December 29, 1890. Previous treaties between the United States and the Lakota and Cheyenne Nations respecting territory ended with the passage of the Homestead Act as white settlers moved into Indian territory.