Using women as figureheads in propaganda: it works!

Summary: Was making Greta Thunberg the avatar for the climate change movement been one agitprop too much? A sharp voice on the Left has turned against them, and shows how this tactic has been used against us. See the girls and women used as figureheads in past propaganda campaigns. It works every time!

Greta Thunberg

Zero Anthropology

Girls, Groupies, and Grim Reapers:
The Religious Politics of Mass Response

By Maximilian C. Forte, Professor of Anthropology.
From Zero Anthropology, 29 September 2019.
Reposted with his generous permission.

Following a week at the UN and ensuing climate change “protests” (state-sanctioned, party-approved, media-praised, university-endorsed, “protests”), in which we were yet again treated to another spectacle of a tearful child lecturing adults, Murad Gazdiev presented an excellent critical analysis of climate change eschatology (see #5 below). We are even called by the media to “confess our climate sins“. Playing a special role in faith-based movements that are meant to keep rational debate, skepticism, and questions at bay, girls have been chosen to occupy the spotlight.

Children are representative of all that is pure, innocent, and truthful, and girl children add that extra element of vulnerability and need: the need for urgent rescue. Lighting a candle on the path toward mass hysteria, with the intention of stimulating a mass response, we have had young girls play in similar roles. There have been at least nine since 1990.

(1)  The notorious Nayirah al-Ṣaba who lectured at Congress about the infamous and entirely made up “incubator babies” murdered by Iraqi forces in Kuwait in 1990.  {Editor’s note – This was first-class agitprop by the PR giant Hill & Knowlton, with complicity between those who knew that she was the daughter of the Kuwait Ambassador (she introduced herself only as “Nayirah”) and journalists who did not dig and ruin the narrative. Journalists’ cooperation is essential for the success of girl-figurehead campaigns.}

Nayirah al-Ṣaba
Nayirah al-Ṣaba

(2)  Severn Cullis-Suzuki, another young girl lecturing at the UN’s Rio Summit on the Environment, in what appears to be the template that has been copied almost to the letter by Greta Thunberg.

Severn Cullis-Suzuki
Severn Cullis-Suzuki

(3)  Malala Yousafzai, who became the figurehead that somehow justified US occupation in Afghanistan and intervention in Pakistan, celebrated by the US State Department.

Malala Yousafzai
Malala Yousafzai

(4)  Bana Alabed, the Syrian sock puppet of Twitter fame, a darling of imperialists who served as the angel of regime change on the side of foreign terrorists. See Eva Bartlett’s analysis.

Bana Alabed
Bana Alabed

(5)  Now Greta Thunberg, promoted to the world stage declaring that mass extinction is already here, a prophet of doom who will profit certain well-positioned investors.  {See her without a script when asked to describe her message. Pitiful. This was at the UNICEF press conference on September 23 where 16 children presented an “official complaint” to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child to protest lack of government action on the climate crisis. Classic agitprop}

Let’s not forget a whole array of other iconic girls featured on TIME and National Geographic magazine covers, such as (6) the famous “Afghan Girl,” Sharbat Gula, whose image was used to champion US support for the Afghan anti-Soviet resistance (an investment with proven blowback value), or more recently (7) Aisha, used as a motif to support continued US occupation of Afghanistan. One girl to oppose the occupation of Afghanistan, another girl to promote America’s occupation of Afghanistan.

Sharbat Gula in National Geographic, June 1985
Aisha in TIME, 9 August 2010


Not young girls, but rather young women have also been erected to icon status in the Iranian street protests of 2009, and the Libyan war of 2011. In Iran, I refer to (8) Neda Agha-Soltan, whose image was held aloft by anti-government activists. In Libya, we were presented with an iconic woman protester against Gaddafi’s government, (9) Eman al-Obaidi, a woman whose claims have not only been roundly debunked by myself and others, but also she has abundantly disgraced herself living in the US, where she landed in jail.

Neda Agha-Soltan
Eman al-Obaidi


At a time when the West is priding itself for its advancements in allegedly fighting sexism, what we see is a return to an antiquated chivalry that gallops to the rescue of these damsels in distress. As a favourite tool of neo-colonialism, US imperialists routinely depicted countries in Latin America as women in distress needing to be “saved” by Uncle Sam. As I have said before, we work with a finite number of cultural materials, and our only “innovations” are in finding new applications and new media for recycling past tropes.

Cuba as a damsel in distress

It is no surprise that “women and girls” have been a special focus of US foreign policy, particularly from the time of George W. Bush straight to, and including, even Donald Trump. One reason has to do with the relentless puritanical moralism into which American politics have been displaced for over two centuries. Yet in deploying women and girls as props, using them as human shields, what that usually signals is the approach of either an egregious assault on the rights of others, whether individuals or nations, or a politically bankrupt policy that can find no other means of attracting sympathy other than to remind us, “it’s all about the little children”. Children are meant to be pacified, but in such instances they are themselves used as tools of pacification. Inserting a little girl into the middle of a debate, stops the debate. If anyone continues the debate, they are then smeared for “attacking children“.

By now those who are aware of this pattern should be on alert whenever a new incarnation appears, because it is a signal that certain powerful political, economic, and cultural entrepreneurs are trying to provoke an instantaneous mass reaction that might not otherwise be possible with reasoned, calm debate where all of the facts are presented, analyzed and discussed. Typically, this pattern appears when actions are being entertained that might otherwise shock ordinary individuals and make them balk at such drastic measures. Women, and particularly young girls, are meant to stimulate panic, a sense of emergency, requiring urgent and always exceptional action. As the Mayor of Montreal said about the climate march and Thunberg’s appearance, she hopes everyone will remember that day when the time comes to make some “hard decisions”. This is how one goes about creating the psychological basis for a state of siege, and ensuring that the siege mentality is instilled in a manner that makes it seep down to the furthest reaches of the social fabric.

It was Karl Marx who wrote the following about the state of siege as it …

“enmeshes, controls, regulates, superintends and tutors civil society from its most comprehensive manifestations of life down to its most insignificant stirrings, from its most general modes of being to the private existence of individuals; where through the most extraordinary centralization this parasitic body acquires a ubiquity, an omniscience, a capacity for accelerated mobility and an elasticity which finds a counterpart only in the helpless dependence [of the people on the state], in the loose shapelessness of the body politic”
— From The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte. New York: International Publishers, 2004, p. 62.

One of the landmark developments of what was announced as the “New World Order” by former US president George H.W. Bush on 11 September 1990 {text here}, which joined the “globalization” babble, has been this recurrent series of “crises” that have been used to train masses into globalized mass reaction. One was the now laughable Y2K bug, a fraud of epic proportions that few mention any longer just out of sheer embarrassment (or possibly due to the kind of amnesia induced by mass culture); another was the SARS emergency, which resulted in few deaths and ended up amounting to nothing. Then we were supposed to be struck by Ebola at one point, and then a Middle Eastern version of SARS, and in the 1970s all the talk was about African Killer Bees making their way toward the US. Nothing regiments a society like fear, and once fear is unleashed it can be harnessed to any ends.

This is humanitarian abduction on a grand scale.

On the topic of climate change, Larry Kummer at Fabius Maximus has been diligently compiling a series of extremely useful analytical reports that should make any reasonable, intelligent person pause and take note. In particular, among the most recent, I recommend these.

Until recently I was quite open to accepting most of the propositions put forth by climate change scientists (I have no time for activists). However, when I started to see that the authorities who marshalled this science were now actually presuming to speak to us through a little girl, that gave me reason for pause. Why are they resorting to such a crass, infantilizing tactic? It strongly suggested that perhaps their arguments were not so iron-clad after all, not as well founded on solid bedrock as some believed, and that even though they control all the media of communication and have effectively “won” the argument by closing off all channels of dissent and institutionalizing echo chambers, they still had to resort to this silly little trick.

That means there is something really wrong in their camp, something definitely stinks over there. Nobody with a solid argument needs to resort to moral blackmail, character assassination, insults, and threats – that is not what a winning side does. This trope of using a little girl was the final straw, and those who are sincere in their research and advocacy around climate change are being done no favours by her stage-managed activism.

Finally, let me close with another Caribbean anecdote. In Trinidad this past June, I was surprised to find how little the heat was affecting me, especially as I just came out of a winter which stretched late into spring. I marched at a funeral, in a wool suit (it’s all I have), under a blazing sun, and even that was bearable. Yet I am a person who feels hot in winter snow. Something was indeed wrong. What really took me by surprise however was Trinidadians complaining about the heat. These were the same Trinidadians I knew who would sleep with no fan at night, covered by a blanket; who would wear a jacket in the morning because it was “making cold” (cold meaning 22°C); in air-conditioned libraries they would wear sweaters, making for a Canadian scene in the tropics. They were the same people who used to mock my incessant sweating.

Now I was dry, and they were complaining about the heat, and it was only 29°C, not the usual 32-34°C which I associate with Trinidad’s daytime temperatures. What happened? They asserted it was “climate change” that had them feeling hot. What they did not explain is why they had all made a mass transition to air conditioning their homes, places of work, and public transport vehicles. The famous Maxi Taxis of the Eastern Main Road – throbbing with music blaring from their speakers, bouncing hot boxes – were all now firmly sealed, dark and quiet as they sped by carrying their air-conditioned passengers. Did climate change make them feel hot, or was it the cultural change of switching to an air conditioned mode of existence? To me it appears they have been acclimatized to a new artificial climate, while becoming alien to their natural environment.

Then I returned to Canada a few weeks ago, flying around Hurricane Dorian. When I mentioned this fact to friends, their reaction to Dorian was “look at all this damn climate change“ – referring just to a single hurricane, in a region and during a season when hurricanes are normal. Now just regular climate is becoming climate change, and that is a sign of the work of inculcating mass hysteria and irrationality.

But by all means ignore this. Surely somewhere there is a little girl beckoning your attention.

{Here is the video mentioned at the opening about Greta Thunberg’s visit to Canada, including an analysis by Russian journalist Murad Gazdiev (experts in propaganda.}


Update: news from ClownWorld

A church in Malmö, Sweden, declares Greta Thunberg to be the “successor of Jesus Christ.”

Tweet by Limhamns Kyrka

Editor’s afterword

Professor Forte is by far the smartest and sharpest Leftist I know. I learn much from each of his essays. This one is especially remarkable. He hits many of the themes I have been writing about for the past 16 years. How our mad wars have harmed women in other lands. The increasing use of fear as a tool to control Americans. The hijacking of climate change, shown by the IPCC and major climate agencies to be a serious problem, by the Left as a tool to implement their economic and social policies. The pathologization of weather, so that we fear normal weather.

Does this suggest that there might be a consensus forming outside the tribal lines of Left and Right, both of which have turned against us? If so, that would be the best news I have seen for a long time.

Maximilian Forte

About the author

Maximilian C. Forte is a Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at Concordia University in Montreal. He is the author of numerous books, most recently Slouching Towards Sirte: NATO’s War on Libya and Africa (2012) and Emergency as Security (New Imperialism) (2013). See his publications here; read his bio here.

He writes at the Zero Anthropology website. Many of his articles are posted at the FM website).

For More Information

Ideas! For some shopping ideas, see my recommended books and films at Amazon.

Please like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Also see other posts about our Long War, about the use of fear to control us, about the oppression of women around the world, and especially these posts …

  1. We destroy a secular regime in Afghanistan (& its women’s rights), then we wage war on the new regime to restore women’s rights. Welcome to the American Empire.
  2. Today’s propaganda: we must fight in Afghanistan to help its women.
  3. About our sudden concern for Afghanistan’s women (& the desperate search for a reason to fight).
  4. A non-violent crusade giving rights to the world’s women!
  5. Subjugation of women anywhere threatens US national security!
  6. Recommended: On the 40th anniversary of our Afghanistan war, remember! – Compare the before and after photos of Afghanistan’s women.

Two enlightening books about the Afghanistan War.

Afghanistan: How the West Lost Its Way by Tim Bird and Alex Marshall (2011).

The Good War: Why We Couldn’t Win the War or the Peace in Afghanistan by Jack Fairweather (2014).

Afghanistan: How the West Lost Its Way
Available at Amazon.
The Good War: Why We Couldn’t Win the War or the Peace in Afghanistan
Available at Amazon.

38 thoughts on “Using women as figureheads in propaganda: it works!”

  1. They want us to believe that the shining city on a hill is a city under siege. But how a city be under siege, if there is no city? What if there are two cities, or more than two, or no cities at all? What if the hill isn’t even a hill, but is actually multiple different hills, say, seven?

  2. “Nobody with a solid argument needs to resort to moral blackmail, character assassination, insults, and threats – that is not what a winning side does.”

    Well said!

    1. Red Pill Christianity

      Excellent article! I have noticed girls are the face of leftist propaganda among the globalist elites of today. The idea of the “female propaganda” on posters came from the Soviet Union,. actually. Russia was called “mother Russia” and women in ugly grey jumpsuits working in factories or holding flags were their icons.

      Interestingly however, is that Malala Yousafzai, instead of promoting “female education” where it is actually needed (i.e. Muslim countries in SE Asia, Middle East, North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, etc), she is in JAPAN (yes, Japan!) promoting women’s education.

      Why Japan? It is easy to extort money from corporations and gov’t in “Westernized countries” with a lot of feminists. No danger there. That is easy work. Such a hero! lol

      Malala is clearly a fraud, just as lil’ privilege Greta is a fraud. Just as the Soviet posters of women (happy) in factories were a fraud.

    1. Ron,

      What a wonderful example of how the Left has decayed. First it was “listen to the scientists”, with the IPPC the “gold standard of climate science.” But science proved “too conservative.” Now we’re supposed to listen to children, who know nothing but what their Leftist minders have taught them.

      1. Larry,

        This shit is out of hand. It goes on all week over at this local liberal rag. I do what I can to debunk it, but they don’t read a word of a link I share to prove them wrong. Sad.

  3. Larry, is a return to sanity even possible? I feel like we passed the point of no return almost 3 years ago, some will say almost 11 years, but it’s 6 of one and as half dozen of the other, and we might as well go back to 1914.

    1. AWM,

      “is a return to sanity even possible?”

      Not only is the current period a commonplace in US history, it is not even extreme by comparison. The 1965 – 1975 period was more of everthing than today. More violence, more dysfuncational socially and politically, more polarized, and more violent. Now it isn’t even remembered by Boomers.

      We’re easily excited by current events because we live in the now, with amnesia about our history. So we are shallowly rooted.

      1. Larry,

        I remember it well. That’s a good way to look at this, eases my frustration.

      2. I quite agree. I was a young boy in 1968, and I well remember the incredible, pervasive, unreasoning anger that seemed to infect everyone around me. We have a long way to go to reach that level.

        Our pampered, solipsistic, narcissistic culture has no sense of time or its place in it, and so we do not learn. History is, like, you know, soooo last week.

      3. Scott,

        I tell young people about the many bombings (the NYT called 1969 “a year of bombings“), the anti-war (or anti-draft) riots, the inner cities burning each summer – often occupied by armed soldiers. They often don’t believe me. They have been taught a fictional history of America, with an emphasis on minor matters and little or no (or false) knowledge about many big events.

      4. Being only born in the nineties, I’d be interested in a good historical tome or two on the subject of 65-75. Suggestions? Perhaps a post on that topic in the future?

  4. That Afghan woman was on the cover many years after that pic but she was completely covered in some muslim attire so you couldn’t even know if it was the same person.

  5. Good post from Maximilian Forte. I’m not a fan of sociology but he has my respect. If only there were more like him in academia.
    Did you get my email from the other day?

  6. The hijacking of climate change, shown by the IPCC and major climate agencies to be a serious problem, by the Left as a tool to implement their economic and social policies.

    I confess I haven’t spent any quality time with the voluminous UN pronouncements on the topic, but to me this seems like worrying that Nigerian email scammers have harmed the message of real life princesses and their barristers.

    1. Dalrock,

      I’ve spent a lot of time talking to the nationally famous climate scientists. They all believe that there is a threat. The question scientists are working on, as usual with such things, concern timing and magnitude. How big might it be? If big, when will it hit? The other side of the coin concerns certainty. If it might be big (e.g., we decide that RCP6.0 is our future – forcing of 6.0 W/m2 by 2100), how certain are the predictions of the effects of that scenario?

      That the Earth has been and will be warming is “settled science”, although drilling down reveals many unknown or inadequately understood details. These How Big and When questions are frontier issues. Research on them is on the cutting edge of climate science.

      The larger question, not a subject for climate scientists, is how to allocate our scare resources between the many threats. Climate change, threats to the oceans, etc. We can go broke fully funding them all, or crash putting all our funding on the wrong risk.

      1. Forcing of 6 W/m2 would presumably require abundant positive feedbacks, which, if I understand correctly, have not yet been observed in the wild, only in models. Some have voiced objections to the concept of positive feedbacks in this context, as they are somewhere between rare and impossible in natural systems. Would like to see further expert analysis.

        The Earth is a pretty big system. Such a massive, fundamental change in such a short time frame seems awfully unlikely. So gonna bet “No.”

        My $0.02.

  7. I am beyond astonished that people have not seen through this charade. It is so very obviously, blatantly manipulative. On the other hand it also kind of feels like peak hysteria. People’s attention spans are saturated, and unless some dramatic climate-related disaster happens soon, a very unlikely thing, they’re going to lose interest.

    Part of what keeps climate panic alive is the fact that there is no clear expiration date. Disaster is always in the near-yet-comfortably-distant future. Plausible deniability territory.

    I would be interested in seeing the breakdown, by sex and age, of the reaction to Greta, i.e. inspired or annoyed, positive or negative.

    1. Scott,

      It’s been the big climate crisis push for almost two weeks. I think it will die down and on to the next liberal cause.
      A war and the draft would focus their attention to more pressing matters. The good old days.

      1. When there is nothing else, they can always fall back on “Orange man bad”. But there is plenty to go around. For instance, in the Denver area a large comic book store held a “children friendly drag day” and no, it wasn’t about racing cars. A few showed up to protest and the local rag ran a front page story about the bad and mean protestors.

        There is little doubt in my mind that the skids are being greased for pedophiles. who will soon be shoved down our throats. Of course, we will have contradictory rules for that, like we do with abortion (if you harm a women’s unborn child without her permission it’s infanticide, otherwise it’s not). So while creeps will be able to show up at your doorstep to take your child out on a “date” (and you will have no say in the matter), male teachers at schools will have to remain above all reproach at all times.

        Clown world? More like circus world: where freaks rule.

      2. Frank,

        I wonder how far they can push the American people. Watch “Cabaret”. Degeneracy ascendant, for a while. It ended badly, but the result was a more stable society.

      3. I truly hope that the push to normalize pedophilia will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, but I have my doubts.

    1. info,

      “What is the best counter against human shields?”

      As Forte says, the Left is “deploying women and girls as props, using them as human shields”. The only way to win is not to play. Laugh at the absurdity of this situation. Laugh at those who say that we should listen to children about matters of high policy. Remind them that these are matters for which we should listen to scientists – such as those of the IPCC and Mototaka Nakamura in today’s post – and industrialists and other experts.

      Republicans are, as always, the Stupid Party (Dems are the Mommy Party). Attacking Greta is foolish. Even engaging with her is nuts.

      1. Way too annoyed to laugh.

        Rather, I’d say: Greta, I agree; let’s listen to the scientists. Like the 51 percent of meteorologists and 65-ish percent of Earth Scientists who are skeptics. Let’s listen to William Happer and (the late, great) Kary Mullis, and Ivar Giarsen, Freeman Dyson, and John Christy, And Lindzen and Ball and Plimer and Curry, et al. Solid scientists and clear thinkers, all.

      2. Scott – follow-up…

        Knowing when to debate, and how to debate under the circumstances – is vital. As an extreme example – I was on the rubber chicken circuit for many years. I had a paid booking agent, and gave 3 speeches per week at a wide range of venues. I spoke before a group of drunken Lions (the Service Club, not the feline predators). In the Q&A, the debate got hot and heavy. Afterwards, I realized how stupid I had been. It’s a no-win situation.

  8. I saw a quote on another blog (I forget which) that said something like “I’ll believe there is a climate crisis when those who scream there is a crisis actually act like there is one.”

    The other day I saw a headline where Leo DeCaprio berated climate change deniers. A quick google search shows that he recently purchased a small, flat as a pancake Caribbean island which he is developing into a resort. Seems to me that he isn’t terribly worried about rising oceans, is he? And I’ll bet he has plenty of company. I won’t be surprised to read someday that AOC and the rest of the “Squad” have purchased oceanfront homes somewhere.

    They’re all sock puppets: Greta, the entertainers, the politicians, the UN.

    1. Frank,

      That’s an important point, and one of the big reasons all the celebrity activism has had so little effect. People can (so to speak) smell hypocrisy and insincerity.

      This applies just as strongly to scientists. In this post I compare how climate scientists have presented their case with how we expect them to do when the fate of the world is at stake:

      1. Well, I suspect that scientists who don’t support the narrative aren’t awarded juicy research grants. Oceanfront homes are expensive!

  9. Thanks as always Larry. Your blog has been invaluable to me.
    I’m a woman but I laugh at the “argument” that critizicing Greta’s ideas is somehow anti-feminist. But I try not to engage with the hysteria (I deleted my social media a while ago, and I don’t watch the news anymore), although it’s difficult when you see otherwise sane adults falling for this trap, and don’t get me started with trying to talk to teenagers about this. I hope that, just like it happened to me, they will someday find this blog and others who inform about the actual science, and calm down a little. Sadly, in the meantime, we’re wasting time and resources fighting stupidly instead of rationally figuring out what to do.
    Kind regards, from a rainy Santiago, Chile.

  10. Pingback: She’s their successor to Christ, their man of the year. | Dalrock

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