On the Media

American-flag-America

 

The president of the United States has been on a  campaign to discredit the media; he takes every opportunity to cast a cloud over what is called the “mainstream media,” casting them as harbingers of lies. This he does even as he himself blatantly lies about nearly everything.

While I do not agree that what he calls “fake news” is in fact, fake, I do take issue with the press as an entity which has sorely misrepresented situations in the past. The press has enormous power which it could have been using all along to dispel, for instance, that most black people are criminals. It has missed opportunities to shift the narrative about black people from one that makes society justify whatever treatment blacks receive at the hands of law enforcement. It seldom reports on the huge gains blacks make in spite of impoverished neighborhoods, failing schools, and joblessness. In spite of what the press presents, black people in this country have done and continue to do amazing things, racism, sexism and capitalism notwithstanding.

In the same way, the press feeds into the frenzy and the fear around terrorism. Too often, as soon as there is an incident which may or may not be terrorism, the press puts the “t” word out, making those who are already afraid sink even deeper into their fear.

The press is predictably quiet, however, when white people act in ways that are problematic or which reek of radical American Christian terrorism. There has been very little coverage, and certainly, the picture of the man who shot two people from India, yelling before he shot them, “Get out of my country!” has not been plastered across television screens. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2017/02/24/get-out-of-my-country-kansan-reportedly-yelled-before-shooting-2-men-from-india-killing-one/?utm_term=.40f469a5d8d6) Chances are, very few Americans know about the shooting, and the dearth of information and reporting on it is helping people stay in their own corners of truth where the “bad dudes,” as the president says, are anything but white.

Last evening, a young man drove into a crowd of people in New Orleans, injuring a good number of them, though none of them apparently have life-threatening injuries. The youngest injured is reportedly 3 years old. The incident was reported, but there was no name given, and no picture. (http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/25/us/new-orleans-mardi-gras-parade-accident/)  Had this man had an Muslim-sounding name, and had he been a person who appeared to be Muslim, there is little doubt his name and picture would have been plastered over every news operation in this country.

There was none of that, though, but instead a strange silence. This young man, taken into custody, was white. He was apparently drunk. And did a tragic thing. Yet, the media protects him.

The press is definitely tainted and leans toward protecting the status quo. It is too eager to report on the troubling and bad things people of color do, while too often not giving the same kind of attention to the things white people do. It represents the power structure and seems that it understands that its job is to keep that power structure in place.

There has been some effort in the recent past by the press to report on the very real struggles of African Americans to make their voices heard. The Black Lives Matter movement is not something that this country likes to give credence to. The press has been good about covering the town halls that are going on all over the country, in spite of Republicans saying they are merely gripe sessions put in place by the angry Left,  using paid protesters.

But on the hatred of radical Christian terrorists, the press has failed miserably. Immediately lifting up a situation which involves a person of color while ignoring a similar situation where the perpetrator is clearly white, and filled with hatred, speaks of a lack of objectivity on the part of the press and a willingness to feed into the paranoia surrounding “radical Islamic terrorism.”

Terrorism is terrorism, regardless of who commits the act, and white people who drive into crowds of innocent people are not deserving of being protected by the press.

A candid observation …

Trump, Wright, the Media and Hatred

When Barack Obama was running for president in 2008, the media played, over and over, two sound bites of the candidate’s pastor, Jeremiah Wright. In one he said, in the context of the sermon which he was preaching, “God bless America? No, no, no, God damn America…”, using the Biblical text from Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy is a book of laws.  In it, there are a slew of laws and the expectation that God’s people will be obedient. Throughout the book, the writers list requirements of God’s people, and infractions that will get people and nations in trouble. They, the people and/or their nation, will be “cursed” if they do not obey the Lord. The word “cursed” comes from the Latin “damnare” which means “to inflict a loss,” or “to condemn.” To be so damned, or cursed, usually means that a person or nation is a sinner, guilty of being disobedient. Those who are disobedient stand the possibility of being condemned by God; in the New Testament, that would mean some people get to heaven, others don’t. Jesus’ statement that “not everybody who says “Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven” seems to point to the reality that some of us are “condemned” or “damned” because we are not doing God’s will.

In these chapters of Deuteronomy, the writer says that people will be cursed for some very specific things: people who lead blind people astray, people who dishonor their parents,and people who engage in sexual improprieties are “cursed,”  but as mentioned,  God, Yahweh, wants all of the laws followed. Among the things that God apparently detests:

If a slave has taken refuge with you, do not hand him over to his master. Let him live among you wherever he likes and whatever town he chooses. Do not oppress him. (Deut. 23:15)

Do not charge your brother interest, whether on money or food or anything else that may earn interests. You may charge a foreigner interest but not a brother Israelite… (Deut. 23:19)

At the end of every seven years, you must cancel debts. (Deut. 15:1)

There should be no poor among you, for in the land the Lord your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you if only you fully obey the Lord your God and are careful to follow all these commands I am giving you today. (Deut. 15:4) (italics mine). Citing the ways in which the United States has oppressed people here and all over the world, Wright took to the Bible to remind us that we will be cursed for not doing God’s will.

Wright was referring to a very specific directive which came straight from the Hebrew scriptures; his  was a Biblical argument, not a hateful barrage of words.

Trump, however, who says, by the way, that he is a Christian, has been nothing but hateful in his rhetoric – speaking against Mexicans, Muslims, women, and anyone who dares cross him, and the media has been sluggish in highlighting that he is spewing hatred; this same media which skewered Wright is not playing the Donald Trump diatribes repeatedly over their airwaves.

What is that about?

The media is, instead, giving Trump more and more air time. It seems not to mettle them at all that Trump’s words are rousing the racists from their dens.Most of what Trump does is verbally attack people who dare say anything he feels like is an attack on him – and any time one says anything in opposition to Trump, he says it is an attack. Trump comes back with insults and put-downs. He gives very little specific policies that he would implement if elected president.

Isn’t that hate? Isn’t Trump a bully, perhaps hiding his insecurities with this hateful, racist bravado?

What Wright did was let people know that a nation which calls itself Christian but which is not doing God’s will, is in trouble. With its history of oppressing others, Wright preached, America is in trouble. It stands to be “cursed” by a God who demands justice and righteousness.

But Wright was “damned” by the media and much of America, while Trump gets a free pass.  This man who is so rich has spent barely a penny of his own money in getting his message out. The media seems to giggle when he issues yet another one of his hateful statements.

So, “hatred” is OK if a rich white man is the perpetrator? It really doesn’t matter that Trump has put down Mexicans, immigrants and women? (Interestingly, he has said very little publicly about black people.) White nationalist David Duke says that Trump speaks “a lot more radically than I do.” (http://www.rawstory.com/2015/12/white-nationalist-leader-david-duke-trump-sounds-even-more-radical-than-i-do/)

The ex-KKK leader also said that Trump understands “the real sentiment of America.” This, coming from a man whose personal and public positions on who is worthy of dignity and freedom and who is not, is troubling. The KKK’s history of hatred needs no help here. (http://www.rawstory.com/2015/08/ex-kkk-leader-david-duke-backs-donald-trump-he-understands-the-real-sentiment-of-america/)

Does anyone see the difference? Trump is getting a free pass to incite racists who have long been lying dormant, ready to strike. Trump’s words are giving them permission to rise up and be bold in their hatred of so much … And the media seems more than willing to be complicit in the plan.

Wright, on the other hand, pleaded for people of God who knew God’s word to stand up and fight for justice, to remind this nation of God’s blessings for obedience …and curses (damnation) for disobedience.

I hate to put Wright’s name in the same essay that has the names of Donald Trump and David Duke, but the difference in the way Trump and Wright have been treated by the media is stark. The media sought to destroy Barack Obama by playing soundbites that it knew would feed into the dormant racists and others. The sound of an “angry black man” was threatening.  Political strategists knew it and used it. It’s called politics.

But that same media is letting Trump say truly hateful things and continue to give him free air time to spread is hatred. The media is being masterful in manipulating a particular demographic. The media is playing the race card, the white supremacist card, and the fear card… They are not trying to destroy Trump. They like him. Wright bothered them and so he had to go.

I don’t like hockey much but I have heard from hockey junkies that the game is OK but the fights are exciting. I have heard them say that they go to see the fights because they are fun to watch.

It seems like, feels like, Trump and his base are a hockey team, fighting with anyone who dares cross him and them, not on policy issues but on personal, hateful, racist, sexist, and religious issues.

A candid observation …