Governments and mainstream media are perceived as going against the general interests of local populations who refuse to be reduced to the status of consumers. Ageing population, consumption, and economic growth arguments are caught in a complex situation – but solutions cannot be dictated to the people against their will
Are media reliable? We are not talking about how media outlets are respectful of their own principles in small half-baked freedom-loving developing societies. Under the varnish of self-righteousness and lofty principles of free speech dished out to the public all year round, do journalists of the mainstream press differ from the political class? Running down opponents, censorship of different opinions, retaliation and harassment are signs of the painful process of attaining maturity through constructive discussions of ideas in young democracies. Editorials are subject to policy directives which journalists are expected to abide by and public opinion admitted on the same condition.
Fair enough even though if towing the line amounts to restriction of free speech. The issue is whether editorial teams are aware of retaliatory measures taken by journalists who get mad at others’ opinions on sensitive issues? Do they endorse backstabbing methods of hacking computers for passwords, prying on personal data and credit card payment, and cyber-bullying? Out of revenge, and in backstage complicity with groups from their own fold – not different from intolerant authoritarian regimes. It is less risky to pen down principles of transparency, accountability and to lecture others on proper conduct. And so difficult to apply to oneself. Not ready to confront ideas and accept thorough discussion on sensitive issues? Shove them under the carpet in the name of harmony. Maybe. At the end of the day it all boils down to the pain of facing truth.
In the 21st century there should be no untouchable branches of knowledge which one should fearfully refrain from bringing in the limelight for obscure reasons. Fortunately, in the age of internet, we are lucky to have access to a very wide range of information on any topic, and keep informed on key issues via groups of people and various associations who are deeply committed to digging out facts and evidence. Specialized magazines and well-documented books offer complementary information. Things are changing too fast in the world. Most people put up with it and follow or not at their own pace. Others are mad at being mere spectators and not contributing anything to the fast-changing world. So they feel like reversing long-established theories and proving the earth is flat, for instance. Pray, go along. Like-minded comrades believe that medicine to treat AIDS is a conspiracy to exterminate their race. Just another example, too bad.
The problem of lying
Overall, press attempts to muzzle free circulation of ideas is pathetic because the written press is no longer a valuable reference to a well-informed public. On the contrary, most of them are part of the problem. The problem of lying to the people.
The point is international press agencies who scan the world and zoom cameras in selected spots for us to see, and mainstream international press whose worldview is widely regurgitated and lands down on newspapers in big and small countries. What is the common point between the BBC, the Independent, The Guardian and the New York Times? Is it surprising that some of them are asking for online financial help? Declining readership on account of glaringly biased one-sided reporting is the main cause. Sorry, we tell them, stop victimhood portrayal of same people and same countries, stop prejudiced finger-pointing democratic of countries and pampering dangerous outfits. Otherwise, good luck for survival with main shareholders.
The French newspaper Le Monde is constantly brought to task by an educated class of readers who threaten to unsubscribe. The well-known weekly Le Nouvel Observateur got stuck in an age-old negative leftist distorted view of world events until it became unpalatable and started losing readership. It woke up in time to give up its simplistic binary vision and set itself the task of working on in-depth, fair analysis in articles to keep readers interested. Countries marked by sharp ideological cleavages in politics and the press have to wake up to a new reality. Revelations on recourse to bargaining hefty sums from political parties and other outfits for a favourable image-building in the press show the low standards Indian English-written media have stooped to. No one is fooled by whose interests biased reporting favours worldwide.
A more worrying trend is the complicity of governments and media against the people backed by ultra-liberal financial lobbies. It raises concern over the media following politicians’ instructions to manipulate public opinion by the superficial presentation of major events. The use of photos and documented videos in the press and on television aimed at arousing emotional response and hiding other facts is effective for a short time until the public starts asking questions. Serious issues cannot be solved by well-orchestrated emotional outbursts garnered across the globe.
The migration crisis hitting headlines is threatening to divide Europe as Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision of letting in thousands of migrants from the Middle East, Africa and North Africa up to a scheduled figure of one million meets with strong resistance. The new migrants are paid 80 cents an hour to keep German factories competitive, boost the economy and reap huge profits for big corporates. With high local unemployment rates and declining industrialization, public opinion in member countries flatly refuse to follow the German model. The sky is the limit for ultra-liberal capitalist policy in terms of profits and mass consumption. The sky is the limit for leftist well-meaning progressives and liberals in political parties and state-funded, UN-backed NGOs also financially propped up by dubious private organizations in their agenda to break frontiers and weaken national sovereignty.
Brussels bureaucrats and governments versus the people?
French President Macron’s controversial fits of rage at public opposition to migration policy dictated by EU is all-revealing about the agenda planned by technocrats without the consent of the people. Media tow the official line in accusing the public of being xenophobic and selfish. Hungary, Poland, Austria and Italy open the way by endorsing public outrage at unregulated mass migration. ‘Leprosy of populism’ Macron fumes against is just not getting a favourable echo as the very concept of populism is being redefined and even rehabilitated.
What is actually going on is a Mafiosi-like well-organized traffic of people from Middle-Eastern countries and Africa by boat owners, local agents and NGOs. Media and television do not underline the shameful exploitation of migrants made to pay exorbitant sums for risky travels in overpacked boats. What media and governments focus on is the issue of European countries’ role to take in migrants.
Other questions are not publicly raised by both governments and media, neither are they answered when raised by the public. First, the causes of migration which befall state responsibility of countries migrants are leaving behind. Syrians migrated in mass right from the beginning of the iron-fisted military crackdown by Syrian leader Assad, well before Allied intervention.
Other countries in Africa are not at war. Neither is Pakistan which 11000 young men leave weekly, according to press reports last year, across land to Turkey with the hope of reaching Europe. In the recent case of Aquarius, the irresponsibility of adults taking whole families with them is also being questioned. Secondly, there is public outrage over the choice of the European destination while the Aquarius was nearer Tunisia and Libya, and why not oil-rich Gulf countries and the Emirates?
The swelling continent
Demographic explosion in Africa and the threat of climate change impact brandished by pro-migrant supporters are also questioned. Reportedly, five million births take place every week on the African continent. Thirdly, the very politically incorrect question is being asked: Will African countries apply strict family planning and who is going to demand demographic control on the swelling continent?
Economic reason for mass migration is not considered viable. It is also argued that African young men in the best physical shape would be of better use to their own countries which are just not creating the right economic opportunities. Long trips, exhausted people, crying babies are exhibited to beg for compassion, humanitarian aid and acceptance. The glaring illegal aspect of the boat expedition in other countries’ territories is conveniently silenced in the media and the focus is on emotion, compassion and creating a feeling of guilt. Increasingly, this kind of subterfuge is not working. Australia solves the issue by keeping illegal migrants on islands away from the mainland.
More importantly, public opinion is shedding the shackles of political correctness and expressing deep concern over the future in terms of ethnicity, culture, values and civilisational ethos. People are openly airing their legitimate right to historical and appeasing continuity as a people and survival as a distinct culture and lifestyle generations of their ancestors built up in their countries. There is rising awareness of culture gap and opposition to cultures with different values and lifestyle who unscrupulously voice their agenda of outgrowing host populations and imposing their own laws and worldview. This sentiment is also echoed not only in Europe but also in the US, Canada and Australia, India is also coming under harsh criticisms by well-meaning international bodies for expelling illegal migrants. Democratic countries are openly criticized while others are not bothered.
Governments and mainstream media are perceived as going against the general interests of local populations who refuse to be reduced to the status of consumers. Ageing population, consumption, and economic growth arguments are caught in a complex situation – but solutions cannot be dictated to the people against their will; instead, they demand real consultation and dialogue with the people.
* Published in print edition on 29 June 2018