Pablo Iglesias, a Nazi pistol and accusation in the mirror

Analysis: Accusation in the mirror is where you represent your enemy as doing horrible things that you would really like your supporters to do to the enemy.
By Matthew Bennett
Sep 05, 2021, 11:50 pm

Pablo Iglesias, the former Podemos Deputy Prime Minister of Spain, has published an article on an online site called Context. Clearly with the approval of the editor of that publication, Miguel Mora, the shocking thing about it is the image they've chosen to lead the article.

It's an image of a pistol, and not just any pistol but the famous Nazi Luger pistol. The pistol as we look at the image is pointing towards the left and if we look closer there are two engraved logos on the metal: Vox and the PP, along with a phrase that reads "PRESS 78".

Psychologically, if you're part of the left-wing tribe in Spain, if you vote for the Socialist Party or Podemos, you could certainly interpret the image, published by two relevant leaders of your tribe, as an imminent, stern, direct warning or alert that the right wing parties and their followers intend to, well, shoot you at some point.

The image represents, brings to mind, a direct, mortal threat.

Now, describing a broad, over-arching threat or enemy on the horizon is certainly a standard propaganda technique, both comercially and in politics. A huge enemy is coming for you, now.

Mr. Iglesias even once gave King Felipe a Game of Thrones DVD box set. Winter is coming. The white walkers are going to eat everyone, including you and your children. It will be terrifying.

In the former Podemos leader's mind, clearly the white walkers here are Vox and the PP. So the message is that Abascal (Vox) and Casado (PP) are going to lead hordes of right- or ultra-right-wing supporters on a deadly rampage against the left.

What an incendiary, irresponsible message, even more so given Spain's history.

Furthermore, I'm not sure if Iglesias and Mora knew they were doing this, but there's also a relevant bit of propaganda theory from Rwanda in the 1990s that comes to mind. It's called "accusation in the mirror".

Accusation in the mirror is where you represent your enemy as doing horrible things that you would really like your supporters to do to the enemy. So in this case, the right pointing a deadly pistol at the left could be intepreted as a message to the left that mortal threats and the use of pistols is somehow acceptable against the right, which Iglesias has long framed as a threat.

Just completely irresponsible, whichever way you look at this.

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