I don't usually write about politics, but a recent visit to the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. reminded me how easy it is to manipulate public opinion with carefully chosen words and images.
I was in town when the Museum featured an exhibit dedicated to Nazi propaganda. Hitler owned every media outlet and had a huge bureaucracy devoted solely to communications: publishing, airwaves, and film. He commissioned children's literature to demonize the enemy. Every household was given a radio so no one would miss his speeches. His newsreels flooded movie houses. In other words, he totally controlled the message.
Imagine how he would have used the social media available now. Scary.
Why should we care? Because we are today's message bearers, especially when it comes to writing for children:
- When we create characters and pit them against every imaginable foe, we encourage triumph over adversity.
- When we bring diverse cultures to life, we remind readers how much they have in common with others around the globe.
- When we breathe life into women and men seeking justice, we reveal a world where even the downtrodden have champions.
- When we craft stories that help children and young adults navigate various stages of life, we offer hope.
And in doing so, we take a stand against the small minds that would divide us.