Western media still suffer from White Man’s Burden syndrome

While death, destruction and displacements remain common features of all wars, it is unsurprisingly disturbing to note the double standard of the Western media in covering the sufferings of the Ukrainian people vis-à-vis the sufferings of the non-whites in other wars…

Quamar Ashraf

The pain of the Ukrainian people is not different from the pain of the millions of innocents in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Sudan and other non-European countries, but the racial characteristics of the Western media stand exposed this time again, prompting posts of condemnation and denunciation across the social media platforms.  

Afghan refugees rest in tents at a makeshift shelter camp in Chaman, a Pakistani town at the border with Afghanistan, on August 31, 2021 after the US pulled all its troops out of Afghanistan to end a brutal 20-year war — one that started and ended with the hardline Islamist in power. (Photo by – / AFP) (Photo by -/AFP via Getty Images)

There is nothing new in the media engaging in disinformation campaigns to bolster the feeling of nationalism when boots are on ground, but the Western media has earned dubious distinction in depicting the sufferings of the victims. It becomes glaringly horrible when the sufferers are Whites. In fact, the US Department of Defence tried a unique concept to win the perception war by introducing “embedded journalists” during the 2003-2011 Iraq war. Resultantly, terms like collateral damage were used to justify the killings of innocents, occupational forces were called “liberators” and so on. In the media lexicon, the collateral damage in Iraq has changed to “human rights violations” in Ukraine’. Similarly, the pre-emptive strike in Iraq was aimed at protecting nations and people from ‘weapon of mass destruction’, but the same media now call Russia’s pre-emption of Ukraine joining NATO an assault on democracy and sovereignty of free people.

Rohingya Refugees deportng from India

While it is hard to say whether or not the Western media suffer from White Man’s Burden syndrome, but the discriminatory approach in depicting war horrors  by none other than platforms of repute like BBC, CBS News and others have widely been criticised in social media platforms.   

A BBC journalist reporting the suffering of “blue eyes and blonde hair” people was severely criticised. The BBC reporter reportedly said, “It is very emotional for me because I see European people with blue eyes and blonde hair being killed every day with Putin’s missiles and his helicopters and his rockets.” To his statement, the BBC anchor in the studio affirmed, “I understand and respect the emotion.”

Foreign Correspondent of CBS News, another channel, said: “This isn’t Iraq or Afghanistan…This is a relatively civilized, relatively European city.” 

The writer, an media analyst, can be reached at quamar.ashraf@gmail.com

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