To explore the relationship between propaganda and mass violence, the Museum entered into a partnership with the Fred Friendly Seminars at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Using a role-playing format developed by television news pioneer Fred Friendly, the seminar raised a series of dilemmas drawn from real-life conflicts to confront participants with a clash of legitimate values. Panelists explored the role of propaganda in situations in which mass violence is threatened, and how the use of propaganda during the Holocaust era informs our reactions to its dissemination today.
What are the origins of the word "propaganda"?
ARTHUR MILLER: There was a time, wasn't there, when the word "propaganda" didn't have all of the negative connotations that it has today?
STEVE LUCKERT: Sure. Going back to its very origins, the word itself is Latin. And it to be attached to the papacy in the 17th century for the propagation of Catholicism throughout the world. But it was after the First World War that it really started to take on negative connotations of exaggerations, of lies. And that it created the very fear that people could be molded or set into motion by propaganda.