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American For Prosperity Video seeks to discredit working class people

April 21, 2011

As a regular practice GRIID makes it a point to monitor local media, whether that is the commercial news media or blogs from the all parts of the political spectrum.

One site we look at regularly is the Acton Institute, a far right organization that philosophically weds Christianity and Capitalism that has its main office in downtown Grand Rapids. The Acton Institute doesn’t believe in global warming and has received significant sums of money from Exxon/Mobil for such a stance. The Acton Institute also has a cozy relationship with the DeVos family and Erik Prince.

Last week the Acton Institute posted a commentary piece on its blog that was attempting to call out a progressive religious leader in the US, Rev. Jim Wallis over the issue of civility. The blog post links to a Democracy Now show where Wallis was a recent guest.

The blog post also makes the claim that there have been vicious and violent attacks against both Governor’s Scott Walker and Rick Snyder. The evidence the Acton writer provides is a video produced by the Michigan branch of Americans For Prosperity.

The video is interesting on many levels. First, this is a classic Media Literacy example of how media is constructed. The person (s) who filmed protestors at the Lansing State Capitol chose to only include footage of signs that convey a certain message, such as “Rick’s Shit doesn’t stink” and others that use Hitler references to Governor Snyder.

The video essentially includes a montage of people with signs that appear to be extreme while viewers listen to piano music. However, the videographer does not talk to those holding the sign to find out what each person really meant by the language of their signs. Are the working class people who are being threatened with layoffs, pay cuts, decreased health benefits and pensions or the senior citizens who are being threatened with increased taxes just expressing anger and frustration? It’s impossible to tell from this highly selective video.

As someone who has been to numerous demonstrations in both Lansing and Grand Rapids over Governor Synder’s proposals I have seen many signs that clearly express anger and frustration and I have talked to many of those with angry signs. What I found out was that while people were angry they were in no way suggesting that the Governor be violently attacked. In fact, the only concrete strategies that people expressed were to either Recall Snyder or to vote him out, both of which could hardly be considered violent attacks.

However, the majority of people that have carried signs at rallies in Lansing and in Grand Rapids have expressed some pretty basic and non-threatening messages such as “Snyder’s policies are an attack on the Middle Class,” “Michigan is not 4 sale” and “Fight the Attack on the American Dream.” Indeed, people have also carried signs using quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, hardly messages that could be considered violent.

What the Koch brothers funded Americans For Prosperity video is really attempting to do is to discredit unions and working class people who are questioning the shock doctrine policies of Governor Snyder. Making them seem violent or ridiculous is clearly the intent of the video, but anyone who has actually attended these rallies knows that the video only portrays a very narrow representation of those protesting and it provides no context for people’s anger.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Dee permalink
    April 22, 2011 5:57 pm

    thank you Jeff for your dedication to bringing us the truth!

  2. May 9, 2011 10:36 pm

    Support Workers’ Rights!

    Check out the latest protest song from The Joe Hill Heartlanders
    urging all middle class workers to “Get Even!”

    You can listen, view and download “Get Even!” free at:

    Stay strong and “Get Even!”

    The Joe Hill Heartlanders

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