Thursday, June 25, 2009

"Must Brown People Be Martyred For Americans To Be Motivated?"

"Why must we see an Iranian woman die on a city street in order to understand the gravity of the country's political upheaval? Why must we see brown bodies bloated and floating to give a damn about the tsunami in Myanmar or the hurricane in New Orleans? Why did we have to see Oscar Grant killed in cold blood by police on a BART platform to talk about racism and the justice system? Why did it take the mangled body of 14-year-old Emmitt Till to give America an inkling of the tyranny and danger that black folks faced in the South every day?

I think Americans are fetishizing video of Neda Soltani's death in a way they would not if she were a young, blonde, American college student shot down on an American street. We do not need to see the lifeless bodies of those women in order to care for them. But people like Neda owe access to their deaths so Americans can access their own humanity.

Isn't there something wrong with this?"
Read the rest of this thought provoking post at "What Tami Said".

SIDENOTE: I came across the post above after reading a post by Fatemah at Muslimah Media Watch entitled "There Will be Blood: Neda Agha Soltan’s Post-Mortem Image in the Media".

Fatemah rightly questions the manner that Neda Soltan's dying image is being used in the Western media. She writes:

"Neda is represented as a corpse just as often as she is represented the way any murdered American woman would be: alive and smiling, usually in a picture given to the media by her family or friends ...

Aside from the talk that she is a martyr for Iran’s opposition movement, many in the West are using her death to educate themselves about Iran’s current crisis, viewing Iran through a lens of violence and cruelty, which many add to their current knowledge of the country as repressive, backward, and unsafe for Americans. Neda’s death may help Iranians band closer together and become stronger in their fight for a government that treats them with respect, but here in the West, her lifeless body is little more than another reminder of the instability and danger of 'over there'.

What difference has her death made here in the West?"
What speaks loudly to me in both posts above is that Nadia Soltan is made to disappear in acts of media erasure that sell her death/murder to the prejudicial whims of largely ignorant Americans, in particular.

By obscuring/erasing Ms. Soltan her complexity, and the politics around her, is framed and made accessible for a prejudicial mindset that is contained by a long history of imperial reductionism.

Nadia Soltan was an innocent no doubt. But so are the 40 plus Pakistani innocent civilians the US massacred in northwest Pakistan two days ago.

Who speaks for these 'faceless' people? Where is the outcry in the US media and its citizenry?

Mathew Cassell in an article in The Electronic Intifada entitled "The Western Media and Iran" puts it aptly when he writes:

"The US media often celebrate themselves as the "freest and fairest" in the world, completely independent of a state unlike, for example, the media in Iran. Yet, an astute observer will notice that the US media generally choose stories and cover them in a way that play directly into the US's global agenda.

Who decides whether or not a particular issue is "newsworthy?" One would think that this is the role of the media, to cover issues like conflict or rights abuses as they happen around the world. Although, it seems this isn't the case. Most Western media appear to follow their government's lead when focusing on different issues and then cover them in a way fitting with the government's position, hence the complete domination of events in Iran in nearly every single Western media outlet and the overwhelmingly positive portrayal of the protestors and the opposition as just. The current case of Iran makes it clear that it is governments who are directing the media's coverage, instead of the actual news organizations themselves."
Now what say you?


Top Image Credit
Bottom Image Credit


Muzi said...

Watching the news last year on War on Gaza on different channels Aljazeera, Sky,CNN & BBC I came to the same conclusion that news a made to apeal to the status qua in each country. Aljareeza was even better. After Iran election I asked myself whether we are getting the whole story. Urban masses are very powerful I won't be surprised if the Ahmadenajad won elections with the help of silence rural electorate. the way he has been potrayed over the media even myself I don't trust him.

Ridwan said...

Muzi thank you for your comment.

I guess we should always 'filter' what we read and read widely.

Great comment brother, I will holla at your spot.

Be well.