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Pot calling the kettle red

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Xenoantipathy, or Pot calling the kettle red is a propaganda technique that seeks to (Propaganda techniques#demonization) demonize political opponents or military enemies by focusing, elaborating on, or inventing differences between the desirable class and the opponent. It is most distinct (and effective) as a condemnation of some aspect of the 'foreigner' or 'other' that is or can be shown to be entirely separate from the user's desirable class, but this has been known to backfire later on in history, see #Evil torturer.

The most widely used modern example is the distinction between '#Freedom-loving' countries and those who 'hate our freedom' and 'seek to destroy it'.[1]

Cloud 9[edit]

Utopian ideals were attacked, as quickly as they were proposed, as being impractical. Not content with trying social changes for a hundred years to replace social institutions that had existed for the thousands of years society itself had (largely by force or the threat of it) imposed itself, reactionaries have decried any change as 'Idealism', while ignoring the misperceptions and myths and wooly thinking about the supposed virtues of the institutions they support. One example is, the Captains of Industry. Capitalism is a crap shoot, and it is every bit the testament to the power of greed that the fictional Gordon Gecko espoused, that it works at all. Only individual companies are organized; everything else is left entirely up to chance. This is wasteful to an extent that has never been fully realized; although the wastefulness of competition itself is intuitively understood, the duplication of resources that Capitalism requires is not. Five haulage semi-trailers one-fifth full instead of one full, as a hypothetical example. Less hypothetical are the dual requirements of record-keeping of every transaction ever, and the records themselves, rather than a single record to track the goods. Factories, shipping companies, showrooms, warehouses, retail outlets and personnel are all duplicated in profusion to furnish consumers with identical goods, let alone goods that are much the same other than their style and brand name.

Government is attacked as being slow and unwieldy; Capitalism, by contrast, is quick and nimble and ready to change. But picture in your mind a Board of Directors at a company meeting; is there anything less spry and more intractable? It's a myth.


George W. Bush's 'address to a Joint Session of Congress and the American People United States' in Washington, D.C. in late 2001:

Americans are asking, why do they hate us? They hate what we see right here in this chamber -- a democratically elected government. Their leaders are self-appointed. They hate our freedoms -- our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.[1]

The phrase became widely used by Americans[2] who did indeed wonder why the rest of the world did indeed hate them,[3] oblivious to the fact that this was a long-standing tradition.[4] Others, who knew darn well why this was so, tended more to use phrases like "No More Wars for Oil".[5]

The phrase is of course ridiculous; all humans are freedom loving, whatever that even means, and the Union of thirteen US colonies was never even created to give its people Democracy, let alone Freedom, but representative democracy, and then along came the Wikipedia:Electoral College and scuppered even that idea.

The idea of hating freedom is patently ridiculous, but there is also an internal inconsistency to this argument, when applied alongside the idea of Spreading Freedom: Freedom-deprived and Freedom-hating are mutually exclusive. For the sake of argument, either one does not have it and wants it, and the US should supply it, or one hates it, and the US should not be forcing it on those who choose not to have it (I did say, for the sake of argument; this is a prime example of statements that are so stupid that the examination of its premises itself becomes tainted with their errors).

Reviling of the greater good[edit]

See CIA: SAD and SOG operations in Pakistan, Kamikaze, Dune, Viet Nam War, Conscientious Objector

All warfare requires that soldiers die, and military propagandists take pains to instill a cause in them to make them feel as though there is a point to it all. All recruitment for warfare relies on the basic principle of duty; requiring that individuals must sacrifice themselves for the greater good.

The inscrutable oriental
'Their motives are so hard to ascertain; they never give anything away'
In the World War II Pacific campaign by the US against Japan, much propaganda was made of Japan's strategy of 'suicidal' attacks: banzai charges and Kamikaze vehicle attacks, most notably those in the Mitsubishi A6M Zero aircraft. Frank Herbert answers this societal smear with of a portrayal of low-tech underdog freedom fighters who accept the necessity of dying in war and will use any means necessary to achieve their goals, and more importantly, have goals worth fighting for, in his 1965 novel Dune (WP). Militarily, the US Army has itself answered their own charge, by instituting the program of Wikipedia:drone attacks on enemy military leaders, albeit their choice of targets is itself controversial; the military desirability of a small air vehicle loaded with explosives being piloted to the target is no longer in dispute.

'Leave no man behind' is an order to troops that has since become an army slogan, to the point of being painted as graffiti by soldiers in much the same way as 'Kilroy was here' (or tagging Wikipedia articles about US invasions with the Army Company numbers of self-professed combatants) Scores or hundreds of US soldiers have died in rescue attempts to save a small number of soldiers or single soldiers and while these attempts are widely publicized by the press, it is dedicated to supporting the wars and therefore bravery and compassion are highlighted, not mass suicide. The development of this concept ran parallel and was intended to counteract the demonization of the 'suicide' tactic.

Hollywood has become particularly fond of this theme as they can pretend to be taking a brave ideological stand while offending no one. The struggle against leaving men behind offers is played up for grunts as ineffective or heartless command being the only thing stopping them from making the world a better place by killing all the people they were told in the first place by those same leaders were the bad guys. Those opposed to war are not offered nearly as much, but they take from this yet another reason why war, especially continual war inextricably linked with politics and capitalism, is a senseless waste of human life.

War nostalgia played (and continues to do so) on the 'altruist military' / Band of Brothers concept, but it evolved in the late 50's and 60's to a direct attack on those who oppose war. The necessity to demonize protest against the Wikipedia:Viet Nam War required an evasive approach; the reasons for the war were at best, anti-communism, so the cause could not be given a fanfare in order that resistance to it could be marginalized. Instead, the individual soldier was championed, and isolated incidents of direct social confrontation between protestors and soldiers given wide media exposure, distracting the populace's view of protest from the real issue-the policy, policy-makers and generals that sent the soldiers to war in the first place, to say nothing of the moral choice that the soldiers themselves have to resist (the alternative of becoming Wikipedia:Conscientious Objectors). As is usual for the reception of right-wing propaganda by leftists, it even enmired protesters themselves in an artificial moral quandary: perhaps they really were being mean, to criticize soldiers for participation in the war? The US was given a brand new coat of paint as the nation that 'takes care of our boys overseas', and this trend has been widely expanded on and increased in intensity to the point of Patriotic Correctness. It is even used in reference to police, these days.

Much was made of the status of US soldiers in Viet Nam as being unwilling participants who were forced by the draft to fight. Setting this aside, along with the aforementioned CO option, this ceased to be the case after Viet Nam, and yet the soldiers, one of the elements without which war could not be waged at all, continue to participate.

Evil torturer[edit]

Torture was in books, in movies, in war and Cold War propaganda films, and in political speeches, for many years, referred to as something other countries did. Although the CIA had practiced it since its inception, these stories were largely kept out of the mainstream, and it came as a great surprise to many Americans that their country would even consider practicing it.

The Prime Directive[edit]

The Prime Directive in Star Trek devolved, in larger society into 'Think Globally, Act Locally', which then devolved into 'Not in My Back Yard'. Doing nothing is still doing something: nothing. This runs contrary to someone's good advice (attributed to Edmund Burke, but he only said something similar): "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing".

To be fair, the setting of this principle is important; it was a dream come true for the writers and audience alike to imagine a powerful military state such as the Federation to have non-interference in other nations as its major diplomatic guideline, in contrast to the major real-life examples. However, it still had the usual chilling effect on the actions of those who embraced it as an evil, and none at all on those it marked as the problem.

'We must not interfere with Third World nations, their lives are so simple and free of complications, we can't mess that up with our advanced technological society" was the cry, and sure enough, the developing world stayed largely undeveloped for quite some time, and will always be a little further behind, or have been equal or ahead for less time, because of it.

Evil Industry making evil chemicals[edit]

The left has one other example of xenoantipathy, which has held back any attempt at creating its own infrastructure (not an easy task in any case). All industry is evil, and especially those nasty chemicals (industry does not have to pollute, or make people unemployed, and humans are entirely composed of chemicals).


Like all propaganda techniques, it is at heart a basic response to perceived differences between human social groups. But by contrast, more advanced social entities seek to bypass, ameliorate, or even sublimate differences in populations. Xenoantipathy's use as propaganda tool is an agitation of that base instinct to stir rage and use for political gain.


  1. 1.0 1.1 President Bush Address to a Joint Session of Congress and the American People United States Capitol Washington, D.C.. History Central - History's Home on the Web.
  2. Freedom-loving Google Search
  3. Paul Kedrosky. Why America Sucks, But (Maybe) Doesn’t Have To. Infectious Greed: Finance and the money culture.
  4. Yanks over Europe: American flyers in World War II By Jerome Klinkowitz: "...their successors in the Eighth Air Force; from their behavior and not of the Eagles grew the judgement that these flyers were "overpaid, overfed, over-sexed, and over here"
  5. "No More Wars for Oil" Google search
Propaganda techniquesPropaganda in history