Unit 1 – Assignment 1

Assignment #1:

Identify an article, a speech, a video, or advertisement that you think is manipulative or deceptive and one that is civil and effective. Use these two examples to explain what you see as the difference.

Due Date: Friday, August 19. Minimum one page, typed in MLA Format.

Submit Assignment 1

A political ad, like an ad selling a product, uses sounds, images, and factual claims to make arguments and to influence the way that voters feel. Watch the Lyndon B. Johnson’s political ad titled “Peace Little Girl.” Then, read the background information to learn more about the context of the ad.

Background: In the 1964 election, Republican Barry Goldwater campaigned on a right-wing message of cutting social programs and pursuing aggressive military action. Goldwater’s campaign suggested a willingness to use nuclear weapons in situations when others would find that unacceptable, something which Johnson sought to capitalize on. For example, Johnson used Goldwater’s speeches to imply that he would willingly wage a nuclear war, quoting Goldwater: “by one impulse act you could press a button and wipe out 300 million people before sun down.” In turn, Goldwater defended himself by accusing Johnson of making the accusation indirectly, and contending that the media blew the issue out of proportion. While Johnson wished to de-escalate the Vietnam War, Goldwater was a supporter and even suggested the use of nuclear weapons if necessary. The attack ad was designed to capitalize on these comments.

Broadcast and Impact: “Daisy” aired only once, during a September 7, 1964, telecast of David and Bathsheba on The NBC Monday Movie. Johnson’s campaign was widely criticized for using the prospect of nuclear war, as well as for the implication that Goldwater would start one, to frighten voters. The ad was immediately pulled, but the point was made, appearing on the nightly news and on conversation programs in its entirety. Jack Valenti, who served as a special assistant to Johnson, later suggested that pulling the ad was a calculated move, arguing that “it showed a certain gallantry on the part of the Johnson campaign to withdraw the ad.

(Source: Wikipedia.org)

A political speech is often meant to exhort an audience to take a particular action. Watch the clip of Lyndon B. Johnson’s voting rights speech. Then, read the background information to learn more about the context of the speech.

Background: Lyndon Johnson assumed the presidency in November 1963 upon the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. In the presidential race of 1964, Johnson was officially elected in a landslide victory (defeating Barry Goldwater) and used this mandate to push for legislation he believed would improve the American way of life, such as stronger voting-rights laws.

After the U.S. Civil War (1861-65), the 15th Amendment, ratified in 1870, prohibited states from denying a male citizen the right to vote based on “race, color or previous condition of servitude.” Nevertheless, in the ensuing decades, various discriminatory practices were used to prevent African Americans, particularly those in the South, from exercising their right to vote.

During the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, voting rights activists in the South were subjected to various forms of mistreatment and violence. One event that outraged many Americans occurred on March 7, 1965, when peaceful participants in a voting rights march from Selma, Alabama, to the state capital in Montgomery were met by Alabama state troopers who attacked them with nightsticks, tear gas and whips after they refused to turn back. Some protesters were severely beaten, and others ran for their lives. The incident was captured on national television.

In the wake of the brutal incident, Johnson called for comprehensive voting rights legislation. In a speech to a joint session of Congress on March 15, 1965, the president outlined the devious ways in which election officials denied African-American citizens the vote. Blacks attempting to vote often were told by election officials that they had gotten the date, time or polling place wrong, that they possessed insufficient literacy skills or that they had filled out an application incorrectly. Blacks, whose population suffered a high rate of illiteracy due to centuries of oppression and poverty, often would be forced to take literacy tests, which they inevitably failed. Johnson also told Congress that voting officials, primarily in Southern states, had been known to force black voters to “recite the entire Constitution or explain the most complex provisions of state laws,” a task most white voters would have been hard-pressed to accomplish. In some cases, even blacks with college degrees were turned away from the polls.

(Source: History.com)