NOVEMBER 17 — We live in a world of manufactured outrage. From one incident to the next, media does its best; knowingly and unknowingly, to polarise opinion and encourage consumers to adopt a certain stance. From incident to incident, we see this happening with alarming frequency.
It does so by inciting our more base emotions, poking and prodding them. It does so by being selective about what it decides to highlight, covering certain news with front page headlines, while relegating other news to the back pages with nary a few lines of detail. It sets up the perfect breeding ground for the more easily influenced among us to grow a black-and-white, us versus them mentality. And it is dangerous.
You’d have to have been living under a significantly large rock to not have heard about the recent attacks in Paris that claimed over a hundred and thirty lives. But have you been hearing about all the drone attacks over a large portion of Middle Eastern territory? According to official reports, 41 men were specifically targeted due to their involvement in terror cells, yet 1,147 innocent lives were taken as a result of these “precise” drone strikes that were apparently aided by “reliable intelligence.” Did you hear about the Beirut attack that occurred the day before the Paris attacks? Probably not until afterwards, when people started to draw the stark comparisons between how the two were treated by world media.
The only reason why I knew about the Beirut attack around the time it happened was because one of my friends was there, and only narrowly avoided being killed. And yes, I was disgusted by the lack of support that Facebook offered those who were killed. No flag filters to show support, and no check in system to mark off those who were safe. Why the discrepancy? Mark Zuckerberg did offer an explanation, albeit a very half-hearted one that I had the strong feeling he was doing a lot of back-pedalling. Euro-centrism? I think so.
The global “War on Terror” has done us all a huge disservice. Just as the “War on Drugs” has destroyed and ruined so many lives. It has caused chaos by punishing the users through prison and social stigmatism, and has enabled narco-terrorists across the world, but most specifically in the Central Americas, to grow their trade through fear and violence. What do both of these wars have in common? Well, both have been propagated by the US government. Both have killed a staggering amount of people. Both have enabled the US to create an increasingly growing police and military presence, both domestically and internationally. And both have benefited large corporations.
In the case of the war on drugs, arms manufacturers have thrived, as well as the booming prison industry. America has the highest incarceration rate in the world, with 2013 having 716 out of every 100,000 people behind bars. Yes, these are private prisons. The more people they have in prison, the more they earn. I personally find this unconscionable. Being in an environment like this drives the desire for people to purchase more guns, giving them the illusion they are making themselves safer, but of course this couldn’t be further from the truth. The people suffer, and the corporations keep the money rolling in.
The war on terror isn’t much different when you think about it. There have been many false flag events that have occurred over the last few decades that have allowed America and its allies to bolster their power and military might over the world. For those unfamiliar with this term, a false flag event is one in which deceit and duplicity is used to stage an event that forces people to pick a side. This has been a known and well-used tactic by the US in far too many cases.
There’s also a lot of news that these governments don’t want the world to know about. Ever heard of the genocide that is happening in Bahrain? You most likely haven’t. Former CNN investigative journalist Amber Lyon covered that case, and nearly lost her life while doing so, and upon her return to America, had her documentary canned by her superiors. Upon doing a bit of digging, she discovered that the Bahraini government already had a standing agreement with CNN to the tune of millions of dollars to ensure that only approved news be aired. One must wonder how many arrangements like this exist across the world.
The Bahraini regime is inflicting terrorism upon its own populace that is directly funded and sanctioned by the United States, yet global outrage is funnelled towards a relatively small group of disenfranchised extremists whom the US helped to create in the first place. Why is there no widespread condemnation against the US, as well as all the countries who allowed this to happen in the first place? Let us be clear here: together with Israel and the UK, the US created the monster we see before us now. If you find that dubious, all one needs to do is to have a closer look at the geopolitics of the past. There is simply too much evidence there that one cannot possibly cover in the space of an article. And let me be very clear. This is not to say that we shouldn’t be shocked by the horrible acts committed by IS and their ilk. This means we should be more prudent in our condemnation.
So who benefits from all of these atrocities in the long run? The people surely don’t. Instead, they are cajoled into a constant state of fear and panic. The fearful masses are easier to control and manipulate. Families send their sons and daughters off to war in the deluded belief that they are fighting for their freedom and defending their liberties. They come back either in body bags or with emotional scars that lead them down the path to suicide.
The ones who benefit are the defence contractors. The Northrop Grummans and Halliburtons. Bomb makers, tank manufacturers, fighter-jet creators. The ones who benefit are big pharma, dispensing questionable medication that quite often don’t do the job, often triggering emotional outbursts as well as chronic addiction. Anti-depressants and opioid-based pain killers are churned out like candy. The media benefits by having more stories to alter and manipulate to their client’s approval. The larger the clientele, the bigger the paycheck. So in the case of Paris, who is to say that this is not simply another false flag attack? 9/11 sure did wonders in gearing up the American Military Industrial Complex for war. The CIA and the armed forces have also been caught out time and time again for supplying arms and munitions to the wrong people. They’ve been doing it again in the recent Syria conflict, so who’s to say that all of this isn’t simply another case of them fanning the flames of war?
All the while, the people of the world are still being pushed towards that cliff of fear and uncertainty. When people are backed into a corner, they are prone to irrational thought and reckless behaviour. Muslims become public enemy number one despite the fact that it is a very small percentage of their population that are committing these atrocities. This is not to say that Islam bears no responsibility, however. They too are guilty of manufacturing outrage amongst their own populace.
Too often have we heard of atrocities committed in the name of protecting the sanctity of their own religion. The beauty of being an educated and liberal society is that we have the right to challenge ideas, institutions, and individuals, and at times, make fun of them too when we deem necessary. Those rights are the bedrock of progressive society, for when we don’t possess that right, we walk right back into the arms of the totalitarianism and fascism we managed to claw our way out of not so many centuries, and in some cases, decades ago. So we question, we fact-check, and we mock all alike. Let us not forget the Latin saying: Castigat ridendo mores. One corrects customs by laughing at them.
However when this same treatment is applied to Islam by journalists, cartoonists and the like, the results are often deadly. And why? Because a few radical clerics issue death mandates against all those who “insult” the prophet or the religion. One must question whether or not a religion that is all that fragile is deserving of being protected in the first place. What gives the followers of Islam the right to behead those who don’t toe the line? As the eminent author Sam Harris once said, “People have been murdered over cartoons. End of moral analysis.” Religion of peace? Think again. The extremists strike out, and the moderates suffer.
This is a problem that 21st century Islam faces. It is a religion that has unfortunately been perverted for far too long by the forces of Saudi Arabian inspired Wahabiism, which, by nature is an extremist and supremely intolerant wing of Islam. Guess who the biggest allies of Saudi Arabia are? You guessed it. America. Just as America can be considered the “stronghold” of western ideals, so too can be said of Saudi Arabia and Islamic ideals. Do you not see a pattern emerging here? Two bedfellows manufacturing opposing outrage to their own people, and profiteering off them?
To analogise the situation, imagine a donkey cart. The people are the donkeys. The reins and bits and ropes that bind are religion and media. Governments are the cart, and the drivers? Large corporations. Steering us down the cliff towards global implosion. What can we do to prevent this from happening? Retain a healthy scepticism towards what we accept as truth. Be discerning towards the media you consume, including this article as well. Be reluctant to jump aboard any emotional bandwagon that might just derail. Destroy the shackles of any religion that tells you to do harm to your fellow man. Demand accountability and transparency from our governments. When it is not given, take to the streets in peaceful protest. If no change is forthcoming, then it is up to the people to carefully consider what would be the best course of action to take with the minimum of human harm.
It’s imperative that we manage our outrage, and that we act maturely when insulted. As an atheist, I get offended nearly every day when I see the countless atrocities committed in the name of religion against our fellow man. I get offended when I see environmental destruction caused by corporate greed and ignorance. I don’t go fly buildings into planes or invade countries or blow people up because of it. Instead, I make sure I read more so that I better understand that which upsets me, and hopefully find a solution to it. I write, in order to share my thoughts with others and hopefully, win people over with logic and compassion. Other people have the right to offend me just as much as I have the right to offend them, and that right should never be rescinded.
We should instead look to more productive and constructive means of dealing with our outrage. Because, guess what… nobody is going to do it for us.
Cedant arma togae — Let military power yield to civilian power.
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online.