Tag Archives: Constitution Day 2017

Weaponization of information-Can truth survive?

Long ago and far away a library educator friend published an early info age book that promoted and explained the role of the library as an access point to information useful to the citizen activist.  Her intent was positive, to explain to activists the potential of reliable, authoritative, timely information that would affirm and validate a proposed action.  When her publisher suggested the title “Armed for action” she objected to the militaristic tone….

Now I realize that my friend was prematurely wise to eschew the “armed” image.  In this age information has morphed into the transportable  “weapon of choice”  to foment political action.  Though weaponizing information is usually attributed the Russians it is important to acknowledge that Putin’s tactics are not unique…

To be certain of the implicit evil of weaponized information, I checked with Merriam-Webster to affirm that use of the word “weapon” definitely connotes negative intent: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/weapon

In truth, information is simply a resource, the user determines the use… My friend’s benevolent theme may seem naïve now – though just when information deserves no blame for the fact that it’s been weaponized.  Though history is replete with lies, the digital age opens the floodgates to their unfettered flow and proliferation.

And so we are drowning in a flood of commentaries on the weaponization of information; a smattering of opinion pieces are listed below.

Okay, information can be used as a weapon.  And yet the essential power lies in the receiver of information who is challenged to think and act according to the content and source of the information.  The “armor” we need today rests with the individual or institution that will take or resist  action based on the weaponized information.

As a society, we are called upon to grapple with the challenge to make “critical thinking skills” the norm—or in today’s parlance, how do we “normalize” critical thinking…  I prefer, and frequently quote,  my good friend Ruth Myers who would often ask, How do we inoculate learners with a healthy dose of “perceptive paranoia?”

The Founders, influenced by Jefferson,  envisioned a democracy founded on citizen access to and wise assessment of information.  Knowing this, we should focus not so much on the weaponry as on how we harness the power of good information (aka truth) to support this democracy.  In a word, how do we sustain a political system based on truth, and arm “we the people” with the power to recognize bald-faced lies when they are aimed at us with malicious intent.

RELATED READ: Social Media Helped Trump Win By ‘Dumbing Down the World,’ Twitter Founder Says  https://www.printfriendly.com/print?url_s=uGGCF_~_PdN_~_PcS_~_PcSJJJmpBzzBAqErnzFmBEt_~_PcSArJF_~_PcS

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We the People celebrate Constitution Day-by learning

The Constitution of the United States was made not merely for the generation that then existed, but for posterity- unlimited, undefined, endless, perpetual posterity. Henry Clay

If there is any virtue to be found in the nation’s current state of affairs it is that many Americans are digging deep into the very roots of the Constitutional principles we have long treasured, defended, trusted – but taken for granted.

The Washington Post is one of many institutions that  grappled with the challenge in this recent editorial:  https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2017/07/21/are-we-heading-towards-a-constitutional-crisis/?utm_term=.df6844c2dfbe  Politico explored similar questions a year ago:  http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/08/2016-donald-trump-constitution-guide-unconstitutional-freedom-liberty-khan-214139  These are just a sample of scores of articles, even books, that prompt us to face head-on some profound constitutional issues.

Constitution Day, celebrated this year on Sunday, September 17, may inspire us to focus, if briefly, on the basics…The day commemorates the signing and adoption of the Constitution on September 17, 1787. The day is also known as Citizenship Day; the more inclusive name was adopted in 2004 to “recognize all who, by coming of age or by naturalization, have become citizens.”

For too many of us the Constitution is a document to be revered rather than a compact to be lived.  Today’s media remind us that the vision of the founders was of a robust democracy based on checks and balances, ultimately the responsibility of the people – us… Jefferson made it abundantly clear when he wrote in his Letters:

I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.” 

And “education”, in Jefferson’s mind, is more than school – consider the founder’s concern with the role of a free press….

In the digital age education/learning options abound – as do alternative facts – and a wealth of excuses.  Given the premise that the Constitution is based on an informed citizenry,  here are some prompts to get started on the quest to better understand our responsibilities – nothing too strenuous here, but enough to get us thinking, viewing and reading with an eye to our role and power:

We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution –  Abraham Lincoln

National Archives Constitution Day on Twitter:#ConstitutionDay

RELATED POST:  https://www.minnpost.com/eric-black-ink/2017/09/why-trump-franken-fight-over-minnesota-judge-bad-omen-our-political-system?utm_source=MinnPost+e-mail+newsletters&utm_campaign=d53a1ca8f3-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_09_08&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_3631302e9c-d53a1ca8f3-123365126

RELATED POSTS:

  • https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox/15e859ffb694fb50?projector=1
  •  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8g-w2kK9fg&feature=em-lss — I did take time to view this presentation sponsored by the National Archives.  Three panelists, all of whom are immigrants, discuss their understanding of the Constitution, their experiences, and their hopes.  Interesting, thought-provoking.
  • IMPORTANT ADDITION:  http://thehill.com/opinion/civil-rights/351043-the-constitution-is-a-parchment-barrier-to-tyranny-if-we-use-it