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I’ve always been fond of Noam Chomsky’s theory of media analysis, though I’m not a fan of the man himself. The theory of “Manufacturing Consent” is strangely relevant to a recent disturbing story. Manufacturing consent posits the basic rules of journalism that lead to trusting certain power structures, even when they are acting in their own interest. Take the issue of police funding: police have an interest in increasing funding (this isn’t to say whether they are justified, just an example) and they also are the primary, if not only, source for local crime news.So if the police give more press releases on local arrests, greater crime coverage creates a perception of rising crime even when it isn’t, driving support for increased police budgets. This doesn’t need to be some cabal conspiracy, but a byproduct of people and institutions acting in their own interest. So how does this relate to current events?Recently there has been a lot of public outrage directed toward the public school system, especially curriculum about race and sexuality. The critical race theory outrage, admonishment of the proposed sex ed curriculum, and the most recent “anti-racism” plan by the university system, are perfect examples.I have written about how these have been prompted by disinformation spread by Gov. Pete Ricketts, other politicians, and hate groups. Ricketts lied about the proposed sex ed curriculum in order to slander the plan as “promoting radical gender ideology.” NU Regent and GOP gubernatorial candidate Jim Pillen piggy-backed off propaganda surrounding critical race theory to whitewash history.This campaign of disinformation has manufactured outrage and promoted distrust of the school system.Now there is a new petition to dissolve the state Board of Education, replacing the board with a new office accountable to the governor. One of the activists behind this told the Lincoln Journal Star “give the power back to the people that are dealing directly with the children.”This is a bit confusing, as the Board of Education is directly elected on a non-partisan ballot. This petition would actually strip democratic control over our school system. Giving the governor direct control over schools, rather than independence from political influence, would be a step backward.This petition to seize control of the educational system has been fueled by the misinformation surrounding CRT and the sex ed proposal. The disinformation campaign by Ricketts and some Republican gubernatorial candidates has created an attempt to give them direct power over the schools.I am not a conspiracy theorist. This was not an organized attempt to take control of the school system and propagandize children. Everyone involved has simply acted in their own interests, just like the theory of manufacturing consent, and most likely will opportunistically promote this petition. Regardless, the result is the same. Does it really matter whether the consolidation of political power is an organized plan or an act of unintentional opportunism, or is it still authoritarianism?Jaden Longfellow, Kearney
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