The Manipulation of the Mind in America

Suddenly, out of the blue — I mean, out of the DNC environment designed in blue — the U.S. is witnessing an unexpected resurgence of feminism. A dear friend of mine, who is in her late thirties, married, two children, found herself to be a fierce feminist, a strong advocate of feminine causes, and she’s not alone. Even the most conservative women pundits (and also male ones, for that matter) were unanimous in recognizing the historic significance of the “breaking of the glass ceiling” performed by Hillary Clinton, the first woman to be nominated for President of the United States by a major party.

My foreign eye was honestly astonished. What the heck was that, all those “girls” in unison chanting their triumph?

True feminism, as I remember, was underway when I was a teenager, in the 1960s. I went to Google to remind myself of our dearest icons: Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, Angela Davis, with her impressive Afro. Man, we made history. At that time, my 30-something friend was as young as “Zoe,” the iconic 8-months-old advertised this week at the DNC as “running for President,” personifying the future of America. So be it.

Our main staple, beyond the mandatory human rights and gender equality, was feminine simplicity, authenticity, including the “burning of bras.” Afro hair was a must, and wild curls for whites, and how beautiful it all was. I still cherish it, my curly hair, I mean. But today, as we all know, feminism includes the resurgence of costly stilettos, strong chemicals to “tame the mane” and other unaccountable clichés of sexual commercial exploitation of the feminine figure, not to mention the obvious attempt to steal our rights performed by the 20-something variations in gender.

Do you think I’m being too tough? I haven’t even started.

The Democratic Convention in Philly was close to perfection, elating, really. All the celebrities you can think of, icons of the present and of the not so present were present there to affirm their support to our next woman political hero. In a “day-after” interview on CNN, the DJ Jazzy Jeff explained what music could do in such a political environment: “People feel good, and this impression is made to last.” He did not mention the “confused with the political message” part, but that’s okay. It is a sad society when we trust the judgment of “celebrities” concerning the complexity of our real lives; it is all dumbed down to a cartoon, so regular folks can “get it.” The whole thing resembled a movie so much that they even came up with an original theme song, “Stronger Together.” Get out of the theater, America!

Every detail in that Convention was carefully designed to respond to and attack particular points on Donald Trump’s agenda, the “midnight America agenda,” according to Clinton. Now, what if it is really midnight, or at least three minutes to midnight, as the nuclear clock is showing? I worry. There was a clear preoccupation with establishing a contrast with the much more alarming Republican Convention the week before, by conveying optimism and hope to America. But it was a difficult task. Even the wonderful, charming Barack Obama, the most impressive orator and political personality in modern times, was exhibiting a forced smile and equally forcing his “cool.” Maybe he knows something that we don’t; and still, it was show time, folks.

The show must go on, and it did, at least this week at the DNC; oh God, everything sounded so fake, including the loving depiction Bill Clinton made of his relationship with Hillary. Everybody knows it is not so, so why even try?

Later, Bill tried to hold Hillary’s hand, but she walked the stage hand in hand with her brand-new partner, Tim Kaine, who declared, in Spanish, that he and Hillary are “compañeros de alma.” Alright, he knows his Spanish and made a point of showing it off, but I wonder if he really knew what he was talking about. If he did, Bill was totally entitled to be jealous if he ever got interested. “Soulmates,” that I know of, refers to romantic involvement; to lovers, not political partners.

At any rate, love was so overrated, I mean, so overused at the DNC — in an obvious counterpoint to Trump’s alleged hate — that gave the impression that the very concept of it now belongs to the Democrats. You might be even sued for breaching intellectual rights if you ever incur the unauthorized use of the word “love,” from now on.

Donald Trump has threatened the Latinos; therefore, Tim Kaine spoke Spanish at the Convention (if proficiency in any Latin language were a prerequisite to running for office, I could be President of the United States). Moreover, President Obama has lately held a lot of meetings with Mexico’s Peña Nieto, and I wonder why. Maybe he’s negotiating stronger penalties for Mexican drug barons behind the curtain while advocating the opposite in public, one can never know.

Donald Trump has threatened Muslims and is planning to vet them thoroughly to avoid the risk of terrorism. Therefore, the Muslim presence was massive at the DNC to show their support, and this included Michael Jor… oops, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. One of the most emotional moments of the Convention included the painful exploitation of a Muslim couple who lost their son in Iraq, a U.S. Marine officer “dreaming to be a military lawyer” (this, I must confess, affected me personally: My son is right now graduating from the Marine Corps OCS intending to be a military lawyer, may God always protect him).

At the apex of his speech, the poor man attacked Trump with his most dangerous weapon, a copy of the Constitution of the United States that he got out of his pocket and waved as a gun, targeting the audience. Except that, I discovered the next day, also on CNN, their unfortunate son had died in Iraq, yes, but in 2004, when there was no ISIS, no Islamist terrorism threat, not even a Trump threat, for that matter. Moreover, according to his accent, the man (and his mute wife) appeared to be immigrants from India, and Muslims from India, as we all know, tend to be peaceful and do not pose any kind of threat.

Come on, people. Donald Trump is not demonizing all generations of Muslims that ever came to this country, although, I know, at some point he tried to blame Omar Mateen’s Afghan father for the killings in Orlando. Donald Trump, let’s face it, is quite incapable of keeping his tongue in his mouth.

Which takes us to our next topic, oh my God. This whole country was taken hostage on Wednesday when Trump declared, in relation to the email hacking scandal involving the DNC (Democratic National Committee, this time): “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.” By God, he was being ironic! How could he not? As someone reminded us, he was “inviting” the Russians to hack into a server that no longer exists and find emails that were erased three years ago! All hell broke loose. Trump was accused of being a traitor, a Russian agent and a friend of Putin’s. Suddenly, out of nowhere, we were back to the glorious, hysterical days of the Cold War, and the country was transformed instantaneously into a live version of “Saturday Night Live.” An embarrassing joke on all of us most people failed to recognize. Nobody mentioned the real threat, that is, the explosive content of the hacked emails, which proved the ex-chair of the DNC Deborah Wasserman Schultz (who was forced to step down on the eve of the Convention) to be guilty of manipulating results in disfavor of Bernie Sanders.

People seem to fail to understand why these comparisons between Hillary’s and Trump’s accomplishments in public service don’t make any sense: Donald Trump was never in public service; until a year ago, he was in the private sector, a regular American entrepreneur. Which, by the way, would explain why the ties and clothes and shoes that carry his brand are not “Made in USA”: he would simply go to where the manufacturing is currently more advantageous, that is, China — just like Apple and all the other big companies. Patriotism does not include business profit, it never did. And for the sake of electoral logic, better no public record than a blatantly bad one, like Hillary’s.

A woman I talked to this week in Walgreens criticized Trump because she “distrusts any person who feels compelled to write their name on everything they own”… “Like Trump does,” she added, while equating a work colleague of hers — who does that on notebooks, tags and Tupperware in the office’s refrigerator — to a businessman who has developed a brand. And so it goes.

An emotional Joe Biden made his convincing contribution by lamenting that someone, anyone, with a “compassionate, typical American upbringing” could get any satisfaction from saying, “You’re fired!” By God, people, Trump said that on a television show! Don’t you see that? He was not firing a real employee, who would lose his benefits and jeopardize the safety of his family, but some reality show participant whose primary goal was to resist being fired until the end of the season!

It was not real life, capisce?

On the last day of the Convention, responding to the “offensively stupid” Trump’s comments concerning the absence of American flags on the floor, thousands of “USA” signs appeared and the crowd was crying accordingly: “USA! USA!” But… this was not proof that Democrats are prone to patriotism. On the contrary, it was proof that “only Trump” truly gets it. Even if the USA fever that had taken over the RNC last week was a reminder of Reaganism.

The last attempt to destroy Trump in Philly was Hillary’s comment about Trump’s infamous remark, “I alone can fix it.” She reacted in triumph, “in America we do not fix things alone… we fix them together!” A roaring, exhilarated echo ran across the audience: “Together!” But, folks, even a pretentious foreigner like me knows that they were intentionally misinterpreting his words: “I alone can fix it” means “I’m the only one who can fix it,” not “I’m going to fix it alone.” @realDonaldTrump himself has said it in his acceptance speech: “We are a team.”

And since we’re down to Twitter identity (by the way, Hillary Clinton has declared: “A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons”), let’s check the latest numbers: Donald Trump has 10.5 million followers, while Hillary has only 7.89. Which means, if Twitter counted, he would trump her by more than two million, folks. The people hath spoken.

Let’s face it: This whole manipulation-of-the-mind business should not come as a surprise to anyone. After all, someone has already declared that “If we want your opinion we will give it to you.” And I’m not alone in perceiving it either: An interesting article published this week depicts the psychological techniques used at the Conventions — both of them, for that matter, although much more money has been invested in the Democrat one — in order to, literally, manipulate our minds; and this would include the blue backgrounds in front of which important speakers were carefully positioned.

I’m sorry, but I am profoundly aggravated by all of this. So much so that I was forced to interrupt my “personal project break” in order to come here and share these humble considerations with you.

Pay attention, America. It is our own lives that are at stake, not “someone else’s.”

About the Author
Noga Sklar was born in Tiberias, Israel, in 1952. She grew up in Belo Horizonte and lived for 30 years in Rio de Janeiro, a city she left behind to take refuge in a paradise among the mountains of Petropolis. Noga met her American husband Alan Sklar in 2004, through the American Jewish dating site JDate. This meeting gave new impetus to her life and literary career, inspiring her first novel, “No degrees of separation” (to be published in English in 2016. She now lives in Greenville, SC, US, where she moved with her husband in October 2014.
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