Monday, July 6, 2015

Stars & Bars: The Power of Symbolism

Say what you will about what it stands for, but the latest debate over the Confederate Flag and the passion behind it clearly show the power of symbols.

Passion has been aroused on both sides of the Confederate Flag issue. Advocates and opponents are voicing their opinions and taking actions. While perhaps the debate’s center of gravity is the old Confederacy which has evolved even more in many ways – socially – economically – politically than even the past 200 years since the Civil War.

We can all agree that the Stars and Bars has galvanized people into action.

Isn’t that the essence of PSYOP?

A recent article in the on-line publication, The Havok Journal considers whether or not the flag’s historical connotation should be erased just as Pharaoh ordered Moses’ name stricken from the obelisks and pyramids of Biblical Egypt. (See: which is also the photo source.)

No matter what the outcome of the debate. Several things are pretty certain in my mind.
1.     No one will look at the Confederate Flag quite the same way again.
2.     Disaffected groups and individuals will use the Confederate Flag as a rally point or justification for their anti-social beliefs and actions or tools for other nefarious purposes.
·      The unintended consequences of restricting use of the symbol have not been a factor of the decision making process.
·      The flag may be used to arouse flag opponents.
·      Criminals may employ the image as a part of a cyber scam – click here if you hate the flag or vice versa.
·      Hacktivist groups such as Anonymous may take cyber action against groups they feel are not sensitive enough and continue to display the flag on-line.
3.     The PSYOP/MISO Community should step back and appreciate the raw power of historical symbols and take a fresh look at current operations and the possibility of applying this lesson.

This post represents a different perspective than I normally take. Please let me know what you think – one way or the other.

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