The Yazidi burst onto the world stage last month for the first and probably the last time. The twists and turns of the Yazidi tale illustrate several common propaganda techniques.
The story was that ISIS, those “dogs from hell” as one Muslim cleric called them, were rolling toward Yazidi villages, which they were targeting with extra-special malevolence, since the Yazidi are allegedly “devil worshippers.” How much more special ISIS malevolence could get beyond eating the internal organs of its enemies was left to the imagination.
Fleeing the ISIS apocalypse, the persecuted religious minority ran to the mountains (the mountain they believe Noah’s Ark came to rest on!) where reportedly 40,000 were surrounded and hounded by the afore-mentioned hell-dogs. The Yazidi were dying of thirst; they had only a few days to live. So the western nations, led by the USA, dropped food and water to them, bombed ISIS and the Yazidi were saved. Yay!
What really happened is always more knobbly and interesting, though less satisfying than a pat story with a beginning, middle, end and clear-cut heroes and villains. What really happened was that indeed, the dogs from hell were heading toward…big cities with loot, like Erbil where live the US’s new BFFs, the Iraqi Kurds. Erbil also supposedly had “thousands of Americans” to protect. What were thousands of Americans doing in Erbil? CIA? Mercenaries? Oil company employees?
The Yazidi are called devil-worshippers, but they are not. Their origins are lost in the distant mists of time, but they claim to be the only race descended from Adam without benefit of Eve. They blend Jewish, Muslim, Zoroastrian and older religious ideas, baptize believers, often circumcise them, refuse to intermarry and do not allow converts.
Groups who think they are superior to all others and who refuse to interact with their neighbors are often unpopular, and apparently the Yazidis fit this profile, since their neighbors turned on them as ISIS approached and the Kurds who had promised to protect them just disarmed and then abandoned them. Do the Yazidis begin to look like pawns? On what chessboard?
The Yazidis headed for the hills. Some were stranded without food and water. It was certainly a nasty refugee situation and they needed help. When the US finally got on the mountain, they had to admit, “Uh…the situation is not as bad as we thought.” That’s because the PKK had already saved them. Western media say “Kurdish militias” saved them, because, remember? The Kurds are our new BFFs.
Actually, it was the PKK who saved them-the PKK, a registered Kurdish (originally communist) “terrorist” group which has been fighting for Kurdish independence for many years. Why does the PKK want independence? Well, there are upward of 50 million Kurds without a homeland for one thing. Think about it-the Jews got a homeland and there are only about 6 million of them in Israel all these years later.
Many Yazidi have joined the swollen ranks of refugees, now numbering an incredible 50 million souls worldwide. The elements of propaganda present in this tale are:
- A dire threat to innocent victims.
- U.S. national interests are at stake.
- A really nasty villain to vanquish.
- A chance to use bombs to attain prior political objectives.
Be on the lookout for these elements to reappear, starring other innocent victims, national interests, nasty villains and bombs. Be on the lookout because these elements are almost always effective for manufacturing consent among the population back home.