One modern method of propaganda is to cast political struggles as debates between extremists on the left and right. The underlying assumption is that both sides are lost in a partisan struggle with the truth being somewhere in the middle. So, if modern journalists were to cover a story about the Jewish Holocaust they might interview one Jew, one Nazi and let the reader decide what is “fair and balanced.” What would be missing from that analysis would be the discrepancy of power. That method of reporting would present both truth claims equally, but it would miss the primary reality that only one side was murdering the other.
When a topic like gay marriage is presented as a discussion on the news both sides can appear equally sane or crazy, but only one side in interfering in the life of the other. Only one side is saying the other shouldn’t be getting married. The two sides are not doing the same thing. When pro-choice and pro-life pundits speak on air, both sides can appear equally sane or crazy, but pro-choice people are not telling pro-life people that they have to get abortions. The two sides are not doing the same thing. When climate change scientists are presented equally with climate change deniers from the oil and gas industry, they are leaving out the fact that only one side of the struggle represents the scientific consensus.
Paul Krugman calls this form of propaganda “the cult of balance.”
“If one party declared that the earth was flat, the headlines would read ‘Views Differ on Shape of Planet.’”
Looking back at history it is all too clear that the struggle for human rights is not a debate between extremists on the left and right. The answer to “the slavery question” was not discovered by comfortable moderates, but by radical abolitionists. The answer to whether women should vote was not found by comfortable moderates but by radical suffragettes. It is the same with any struggle for justice, the answer is not found by utilitarian compromises but by discerning radical and universal principles of human rights.