Fresh off a summer of prolonged murder and arson organized by leftists, the Department of Homeland Security announced the lucky winners of its “domestic terrorism prevention” grant system last September.
One recipient program is at American University’s School of Communications, which got \$568,613 from the DHS to partner with Google’s Jigsaw (an AI project that specializes in manipulating search results to achieve political ends) in order to “define and describe the growing threat of violent white supremacist extremist disinformation, evaluate attitudinal inoculation as a strategy for communication to combat the threat, and develop a suite of operational tools for use by practitioners and stakeholders.”
The highly subjective language of this description is only the tip of the iceberg. The project is being led by Kurt Braddock, a professor of Public Communications at AU. Braddock is known for pioneering social engineering and Soviet-style indoctrination techniques as a “vaccine” against what he arbitrarily deems to be “hate.”
Braddock’s leading role in this project, which seeks to develop his theories and put them into practice on a wide scale, is cause for concern. He doesn’t hide his fanatical left-wing prejudices, and he makes it a point to show his disregard for fundamental American values like free speech.
Last month, Braddock penned a piece for Common Dreams declaring Donald Trump a “stochastic terrorist.”
The logic of the stochastic terrorism concept is that an individual engaging in lawful political advocacy should be found guilty of a crime if a person who he has no relationship to but shares his critique crosses the line and becomes violent. In other words, guilt by association.
In his article, he asserts that Trump should’ve been held responsible for the FBI agent instigated plot to kidnap Gretchen Whitmer, merely for previously tweeting the slogan “LIBERATE MICHIGAN.”
To understand the absurdity of the idea, Dylann Roof told investigators that his main inspiration for the shooting spree at the Emanuel AME Church in South Carolina was reading interracial crime statistics, which the FBI itself compiles and releases every year. Under a system that prosecutes stochastic terrorism, the FBI itself would be partially responsible.
For Braddock, there is no such thing as the peaceful expression of beliefs or even raw data that challenges his worldview. Most enlightened people side with Socrates in the trial that found him guilty and put him to death for blasphemy, but the assistant professor upholds the Athenian court’s decision, “As a professor of communication, my teaching and research is based on a fact that has been clear since the days of Socrates– words have consequences,” he says.
In an interview with CBS News earlier this week, he reiterated this view, complaining that “far-right leaders” will be emboldened by Trump’s Senate acquittal into making statements that “motivate the far right” due to seeing a lack of “repercussions.”
The underlying first principle of all of Braddock’s work,seen in works like Weaponized Words which talks about using social psychology and manipulation to alter people’s political values, relies on the assertion that simply disagreeing with him on a broad range of issues is an act of violence.
Braddock’s Experiments Aren’t New
While Braddock may present his ideas and experiments as novel to DHS grant makers, they are in truth mostly taken from the established work of Chinese commissars in the 1970s and 80s.
In Michael Keane’s The Chinese Television Industry, he details the Maoist theory of culture and mass media. Journalists and state-backed intellectuals in China were instructed to become “guardians of the soul” tasked with instilling loyalty to the ruling elite’s interests as a way to “protect” the masses from the “viral infection” of so-called disinformation and counter-revolution.
The process of social engineering was referred to by Chinese officials as “positive education.” In Keane’s retelling, “positive education” was described as a way to “inoculate” the people against ideas critical of the state. Positive education methods were used until the 1980s.
In Braddock’s experiments, individuals are shown pro-white or populist arguments deliberately taken out-of-context in a way to induce a psychological response. The subjects are then rapidly bombarded with ideological “counter-arguments,” almost identical in method to what Maoists did on a wide scale in China.
Braddock claims these experiments have shown a high success rate in “inoculating” white people against anti-establishment ideas. Through his partnership with Google, he is trying to figure out ways to apply this on an industrial scale to social media, similar to how Mao attempted to solidify obedience to his doctrine through newspapers and television in China.
Petty Partisanship, Not Science
Braddock’s social media behavior reveals an individual deeply entrenched in the world of the online far-left.
In one tweet tagging Tom Cotton, he refers to him as a fascist “licking the boots of those who advocate white supremacy” over a June op-ed calling for government action against unabated anarchist violence.
A cursory look at Braddock’s personal webpage is filled with Rick & Morty references and infantile writings that demonstrate a lack of professionalism, such as a self-description that reads “Terrorism is bad, so I try to understand, interpret, and stop it. Counter-terrorism is good, so I try to do work that helps it.”
It should be noted that the money behind this crusade was allocated to Braddock’s team by the Trump administration. At best, the grant is a huge waste of taxpayer dollars. But the malice behind his thinking should not be underestimated. This small-souled man isn’t a blogger for the Huffington Post, he has the full deference of history’s most advanced surveillance state. If he gets his way, half of America could be classified as terrorists targeted for re-education. The consequences of this kind of designation is no laughing matter.