There are many people in the U.S. who believe we have become a nation of quockerwodgers. However, rather than physical the strings being pulled are the invisible ones of our sentiments. A tug here, a twitch there and we vacillate from tears of sympathy to ire of a sort reserved for only the most villainous of dastardly poltroons.

Nice paragraph if you’re into nineteenth century English but, in truth, there is significant evidence available to make a viable claim that there are invisible puppet masters pulling emotional strings to put people in the streets protesting against whatsoever. The most recent riot in Portland, (I hesitate to use the term most recent since they seem to be daily occurrences) was fomented by the rumor a black man had been killed by police. When the rioters discovered the person killed was a white man they dispersed since rioting against police killing whites is not part of the narrative of the Punch and Judy performance, yes I know Punch and Judy were hand puppets and we’re talking about marionettes, but it’s the playing to a script written and guided by unseen hands that we’re about here.

Convincing people using emotional manipulation is as old as human kind and almost impossible to counter. Poor old Eve didn’t stand a chance. More recent events include: December 1979 the Russians and Iranians, using agents of influence in North Africa and the Middle East spread the rumor that the U.S. had bombed the Grand Mosque in Mecca when, in fact, the mosque had been seized by a group of Saudi Islamic fundamentalists. The U.S. embassy in Iran had already been overrun and Iran was using agents of influence throughout the world to spread the rumor that the U.S. was anti-Islamic. The takeover of the Mosque presented the perfect opportunity and the resulting mobs would burn the U.S. Embassies in Islamabad, Pakistan and Tripoli, Libya. No internet, no FaceBook, no Twitter just radio and good old cheek by jowl spread rumor. But like the so called 2012 protest in Benghazi where people showed up with 60 millimeter mortars and heavy machine guns, embedded with the “mobs” were trained military operatives using the “protests” as cover to effect attacks on U.S. presence in the Islamic world.

Perhaps one of the most effective and life costing rumors (aka covert influence efforts) in history was the 1857 effort by holy men, local potentates and a number of other interests, including the Russians, accusing the British of using tallow of beef and pork to seal the powder cartridges used for the Enfield rifle supplied to Sepoy troops of the East India Company. Since beef is not allowed in the Hindu religion and pork in the Muslim religion, this meant that the biting off of the top of the powder cartridge (as was the practice for loading the single shot black powder Enfield) made the Sepoy “unclean.” And thus Imperial India was born and Queen Victoria would become an Empress, but not until thousands upon thousands died in the revolt known as the Sepoy Mutiny. Britain consolidating its rule in the subcontinent was not the outcome the purveyors of the rumor had hoped to effect. Sometimes pulling the invisible strings of emotion causes lots of pain and suffering but does not result in the ultimate objective of the string pullers. But make no mistake they will look for other strings. And given the human condition they will find them.

Point is there are many forces at play in the world and emotion remains the most efficacious manner of turning people into the streets. That emotional response can be manipulated through agents of influence using mass media methods should be readily apparent to even the most basic objective observe. We’ll discuss this at more length in later blogs and I have touched upon it in earlier blogs as well. But rumor is most often presented as fact and like the myths we use to teach and from which we take wisdom, such “facts” need to be deconstructed. Is it a fact or is it just someone’s interpretation of a fact? Is it even based in fact or is it just a lie reported as if it were the truth. Remember the mayor of the city in Florida who immediately termed the pick-up truck incident a “Terrorist act” during the Pride parade. This set off a fire storm of reporting but was, thankfully, quickly handled by police who were able to get to the media before things got out of hand. It was just an accident. Sometimes things are as they appear and there is no ulterior motive at work. Still, there are those who will knowingly and unknowingly attempt to use otherwise unconnected events to further their agendas.

Have you seen any of these efforts in the news this week? Have you stopped to think about how an otherwise inconsequential event may be used to further the efforts of someone looking to flake off just a small piece of the parchment paper upon which the Constitution is written? Have you seen a “problem” identified that has never been a problem before, but now, if not solved immediately, will make you less than the person you’re being told you should be? If you take the time to think about that which is happening you can see the pull here and the push there trying to move your emotions beyond a set point. When you comment upon this many people will tell you that you’re exhibiting paranoid behavior, BUT, as we used to say in the spy business, “Just because you think they’re out to get you doesn’t mean they aren’t.” And in the spy business that was true more often than not. So, look around you, see any Quockerwodgers? How about string pullers?

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