This year at CPAC (Conservative Political Action Committee) special guest speakers included none less than President Trump at an event viewed by many as a barometer for the future of the American right.  It isn’t unusual for CPAC to have some minor controversies but this time many were shocked as Trump supporters enthusiastically waved miniature Russian flags at the rally.

“Jason Charter, 22, and Ryan Clayton, 36, passed out roughly 1,000 red, white, and blue flags, each bearing a gold-emblazoned ‘TRUMP’ in the center, to an auditorium full of attendees waiting for President Trump to address the conference. Audience members waved the pennants—and took pictures with them—until CPAC staffers realized the trick: They were Russian flags,” the Atlantic reported.

Lest, I be accused of being partisan, I think a prank like this could be pulled off at a gathering for leftists and democrats very easily as well.  The reason why I mention a silly prank at CPAC is because I think the event speaks to a larger trend in American politics and social discourse: Americans are very susceptible to propaganda and routinely do not question what they are told as long as it confirms bias and goes along with previously established dogma.  This is marketing 101, the large bold letters on the flag that read TRUMP disarmed the CPAC attendees, they accepted their narrative in writing while the Russian flag it was printed on was disregarded without critical thought, passing right through their subconscious.

The people waving Russian flags were tricked, they were not Putin fanboys (and girls), but this is part of the problem.  Free societies like America are open targets to information operations, and without a well-informed and educated public we are sitting ducks.  That patriotic Americans gleefully waved Russian flags around at CPAC is a pretty stunning example of how naive, uninformed, and politically unaware that American voters and activists are.  Given that environment, manipulation is easy: