PROPAGANDA AND PUBLIC OPINION
'In proportion as the structure of government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion shall be enlightened.'
-- GEORGE WASHINGTONin his Farewell Address
ALL of us can recall the mixed feelings with which we reacted to the outbreak of war--the overwhelming anguish, our momentary possession by that insight, which in peace we so readily discard, the tragic sense of life; and, withal, the strange exhilaration (acknowledged only between intimates), the relief from tension, as of men alerted, at last, for action. The issue, we said, was clear and simple; minor differences were forgotten in our dedication to the common cause; certainty triumphed over doubt, and 'carking cares' yielded to one dominant preoccupation.
War, in a sense, is tonic. It purges our emotions; it clears (or seems to clear) our minds--and therein lies its danger. It oversimplifies the issue, foreshortens sight, distorts perspective, offers through action a convenient alibi for thought. To repine, in retrospect, over the lost virtues of wartime--the united front at home, the camaraderie and heroism of the battlefield--is to
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Publication information: Book title: Radio, Television and Society. Contributors: Charles A. Siepmann - Author. Publisher: Oxford University Press. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1950. Page number: 168.