CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS LIBRARY
Part III: After Viewing the Exhibit/Novel (90 minutes)
Tell students that you are going to read aloud a scenario, and that you would like them to listen silently and to imagine themselves in this situation. Read aloud from the handout, Hate Group Propaganda, and then discuss some of the following questions:
- How did your feelings about this group change from the beginning of the scenario to the end? Explain.
- What do you already know about the Ku Klux Klan? Did this influence your response to the Web site?
- What if you encounter a Web site or literature on a group that is equally attractive, free to join and seems to be “Pro-Rights,” but is a group that you’ve never heard of before? How will you know whether it is a hate group or not?
- What, if anything, would you do to find out more about the group?
- What are some of the things you could do to verify the information
provided or to cross-reference the sources?
- Write the word propaganda on the board or a sheet of chart paper. Ask students to define it and create a web of their responses. Read aloud the following definition from the Media Awareness Network:
The term propaganda refers to persuasive techniques that attempt to influence the opinions, emotions, attitudes or behavior of a group of people. Propaganda itself is neither good nor bad – it’s merely a means of persuasion and can be used for positive or negative purposes.
Ask students for examples of propaganda that they encounter in their everyday lives (e.g., product advertisements, political campaigns, public service announcements, etc.).
- Emphasize that while some propaganda is benign—such as an ad persuading us to buy a particular brand of toilet tissue—other forms of propaganda can be incredibly destructive, such as the Ku Klux Klan message read earlier and the messages contained in The Protocols. Ask students to think back on the exhibit/novel they viewed/read about The Protocols and post the following quotes while students reflect.
[The Protocols are] probably the most widely distributed book in the world after the bible…1
It is no exaggeration to say that [The Protocols] cost the lives of many thousands of innocent persons and that more blood clings to their pages than to those of any other mendacious document in the world’s history. 2
- Post a sheet of chart paper divided into two columns, labeled “Message” and “Techniques.” Ask students to consider what specific messages are contained in The Protocols and what techniques have been used by its purveyors to persuade masses of people that this deception is actually true. Use one or both of the options below to generate discussion, and chart students’ responses in the appropriate columns (see One Lie, Many Versions for examples of propaganda and techniques).
- Project the images in One Lie, Many Versions, which shows the cover art from various editions of The Protocols over the past century and throughout the world. Elicit from students the stereotypes that have been used to convince people of a Jewish “plot.”
- Project/play the song, Protocols, a satire created by the Hasidic rabbi, Rav Shmuel. Elicit from students the stereotypes that have been used to convince people of a Jewish “plot.”
NOTE: If option (b) is chosen, make clear that the song is a parody and that while it is humorous, the problem of anti-Semitism is not. Be certain that your students are mature enough to appreciate satire and to refrain from sharing the song in contexts that might perpetuate rather than challenge prejudices.
- Distribute a copy of the handout, Propaganda Techniques on Hate Web Sites, to each student. Have students read it to themselves or read together as a group. Compare the information on the handout with the chart created earlier and invite students to add new ideas to the chart.
1 Norman Cohn in Larsson, Goran. 1995. Fact or Fraud? The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Jerusalem: AMI-Jerusalem Center for Biblical Studies and Research.
2 Valentin, Hugo. 1971. Anti-Semitism Historically and Critically Examined. Freeport, NY: Books for Libraries Press.