From Late Night Thoughts:
1. It appears out of nowhere as a full-blown argument and becomes the only explanation . Until late yesterday, the majority of the pro-war argument about the anti-war demonstrations had centered on the numbers (too few people to matter). Suddenly, after the pictures appeared on the Web and the numbers could not be denied, the taint by association screed appeared, and every major right-wing blogger adopted it immediately. Please note that the adopters are not the creators; they just simply latch on to an argument that reinforces their own beliefs.
2.Code words are used to discredit the opposition. “Taint” implies uncleanliness, both physical and moral. “Dupe” turns the opponent into a feeble-minded nonentity whose opinion need not be taken seriously. “Communist lover” is especially good, since it raises the hackles of past-middle-age Americans who remember Stalin, and especially that of folks who actually fled communist regimes.
3. It accuses the opponent of ulterior motives. You just want to get “your fifteen minutes of fame”. You “hate America”. Add your favorites here, they are easily recognizable. They all begin by creating an artificial class of being which can then be characterized negatively.
4. When confronted it diverges into tangential channels. This is important. If you answer the argument and the reply is yet another argument only distantly related to the first one, you are in the presence of propaganda. Because propaganda is actually a distortion of reality, it cannot engage in real dialogue. Once the talking point is delivered, it cannot go further except to another talking point.
Via Patrick Nielsen Hayden, who notes, “The author knows a thing or two about propaganda: she grew up in Castro’s Cuba.”