Monday, 10 February 2014

Killing, abuse and denial - the West's Olympian-sized record

How eagerly our media adopt the term 'human rights record' to highlight the villainy of other countries, while safely avoiding that same term when it comes to Western state crimes.

The BBC's coverage of the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi is replete with reminders of Russia's gross authoritarianism, particularly its anti-homosexual repressions.

And critically alert they, like anyone else, should be over discriminatory attacks on any section of society.

But just try to imagine such media headlines over Britain's and America's own appalling human rights record in waging murderous, illegal wars.

It seems this sort of human rights record, the kind concerned with mass killing of others beyond our shores, doesn't really figure as measurable abuse.

For if it really did, the BBC would have to report and criticise UK/US conduct in the same, or much worse, terms as that reserved for demonised states like Russia, China and North Korea.

Highlighting the staggering scale of Britain's global crimes, as documented by historian Mark Curtis, John Pilger believes that the political and media deceit is becoming unsustainable.
Recalling not just the likely one million fatalities from the West's invasion of Iraq, but the half million dead from the effects of Western pre-war sanctions, Pilger says:
The truth about the criminal bloodbath in Iraq cannot be "countered" indefinitely. Neither can the truth about our support for the medievalists in Saudi Arabia, the nuclear-armed predators in Israel, the new military fascists in Egypt and the jihadist "liberators" of Syria, whose propaganda is now BBC news. There will be a reckoning – not just for the Blairs, Straws and Campbells, but for those paid to keep the record straight.
A day, indeed, to anticipate.

Yet, rather than shine a floodlight on Britain's shocking human rights record, 'smart' liberal 'journalism' continues to celebritise its greatest offenders.

Thus could the Independent's Andy McSmith muse dizzily over Tony Blair's 'pulling power' and alleged affair with Rupert Murdoch's wife, rather than even mention his arch criminality.

This kind of titillation over the 'alpha personas' of our leaders contrasts starkly with the much darker denigration of enemy others, such as the 'menacingly-muscular' Putin, or the 'sex-crazed' 'Mad Dog' Gaddafi.  

It's not that Gaddafi shouldn't be scrutinised. It's that you will never see our media use terms like 'Mad Dog' to label or scrutinise people like Blair, Cameron or Netanyahu. What makes a politician in a suit any less of an executive monster? 

Prince 'flash' Harry can, likewise, boast of his brave killing exploits in Afghanistan, while his disturbing war-games penchant from an Apache attack helicopter are all media-filtered as the over-indulgences of a 'playboy Royal'. At least the literary Harry Flashman of Afghan and other Empire campaigns really was an entertaining villain and battle coward.  

So much of the 'us and them' of public 'information', particularly over war, is distilled via this Hello-styled 'political info-tainment'.

The adulation of Obama as some kind of pop star is a media industry in itself, rendering unthinkable any notion of him as a drone-directing killer.   
From 'us and them' political selectivity, it's an easy step to an 'us or them' view of foreign others, as in the current media-hyped discussion on whether aid to UK flood victims should take priority over foreign aid.

Why is the question of vital human aid, foreign or domestic, never considered against bailout aid to bankers, or the massive state aid given to corporate arms companies to keep prosecuting wars?

Why is the cost of aid for people, internal or external, never pitched against the astronomically-draining cost of nuclear weapons?

How conditioned we are by accountant politicians and a conformist commentariat to think about the 'onerous costs' to the state when it comes to helping human beings, rather than the funding used to kill and immiserate them.

And what of all the selling of killer military hardware to allied regimes like Qatar and Saudi Arabia? Shouldn't that be on the human rights audit sheet?   

Corporate-driven climate change has brought the planet's seven billion inhabitants to the point of real, possible extinction. Beyond close awareness of this crisis, papers like the 'greensleeved' Guardian should be screaming emergency headline messages for action from their front pages. It's not there. 

A Guardian editorial talks alarmingly about a "Weather of Olympian extremes" and the need for greater climate change awareness, yet relentlessly refuses to end its own fossil-fuel advertising.

Reports file in of flooded plains, unprecedented storms and weather-tossed railway lines. Yet where's the crucial framing of all this on the BBC news as intensifying climate change catastrophe?  

Isn't all that a damning statement of our state-corporate media's very own dismal human rights record?

Aren't they Olympian-sized contenders in the great 'triathlon' of power, hypocrisy and denial? 


H Scott said...

Interesting and pertinent comments John. I would only add that in a democracy the electorate must also be held to blame as well as corporate and establishment power. Tony Blair and New Labour were re-elected after the Iraq war.

H Scott said...

Pertinent comments John. I would only add that in a democracy the electorate also has responsibility. Tony Blair and New Labour were re-elected after Iraq.