It is interesting to compare the fake Russian accounts on Twitter and Facebook that we have all read about with the fake material generated by the FBI in the 60s and 70s. This was the golden age of Operation CHAOS and COINTELPRO, and every Fbi office in a metropolitan area was falling over itself to think outside the box and please the chief.
My favorite, as revealed by an FOIA generated yield ofdocuments, was the Washington D.C. office’s idea, in 1969, to create an “anonymousstudent-written” that was to be released to college campuses. Of course, the office assured the chief, “distribution of the paper will be handled by a source using a “cut-out” to avoid any affiliation with the FBI.”
The FBI, like today’s Russian troll, was not exactly a stylist. The “Rational Observer”, which must have been great fun to brainstorm there in the FBI office, reads like the product of a rather dim reader of Atlas Shrugged. It contains many, many bits of rhetoric that float around even today. For instance, the ever popular “we’re victims (as we lie to you)” ploy, which even today gets buckets of tears elicits buckets of tears from concern troll types – I’m looking at you, NYT editorial page!
“What is the RATIONAL OBSERVER?
It is an attempt by a small group of students, who love democracy, to preserve democracy…
It is unfortunate that we cannot identify ourselves for we take classes from some who do not believe in freedom and grade accordingly.”
This was a nice touch – not that it would resonate very much with students, but with conservative groups whose spirits preside over this FBI production, this would have seemed like God’s own truth. Of course, the real reason they couldn’t identify themselves is because they were FBI agents, but what is a little untruth when trying to preserve democracy?
The pamphlet is full of zingers, the kind of things FBI agents were probably telling their kids at the dinner table, and just felt would be ever so persuasive when put down in cold type. For instance:
“What’s wrong with competition? Nothing. Only those who lack confidence in themselves fear it and flock together like sheep under a shepherd of cowardice.” Mean profs, enemies of freedom all, would probably, it must be admitted, put a red ink circle around “a shepherd of cowardice” and write, “cliché - revise image to make point.”
This proud product of D.C.’s finest G-men did not, most likely, turn the tide in any campus environment into which it was, via “cut-out”, released. But its themes, culled from a hundred Rotary Club dinners and John Birch society pamphlets, entered the mainstream. Its descendants now call those freedom hating, mean-gradin’ profs ‘PC’, and definitely think that they are the shepherds of cowardice, against which only a brave minority of intellectuals (plus the vast silent majority) are taking a stand.