Home CommentaryEditorial Media needs to report both sides of conflict

Media needs to report both sides of conflict

by The Concordian March 29, 2016

On Sunday evening in a park in Lahore, Pakistan, families with Muslim and Christian children were playing on the swings, socializing, and hunting for Easter eggs. Then, a suicide bomber detonated an explosive and the park turned into a scene from a horror movie, with hundreds injured and at least 70 people killed, according to Al Jazeera. A Taliban faction called Jamaat-ul-Ahrar has claimed responsibility for the attack, and said it was intended to kill Christians, although only 14 victims have been identified as such, according to Al Jazeera.

In Montreal on Sunday night, Concordia, McGill, UQÀM and UdeM’s African student unions gathered at McGill to hold a candlelight vigil to remember the recent victims of terrorist attacks from all over the world. Victims of attacks in Ivory Coast, Turkey, Mali and Belgium were mourned, which allowed for the recognition of the tragedies underreported by mainstream media.

After the Paris attacks, The Concordian’s masthead felt particularly touched because our Production manager is from Paris and the connection between the world’s two largest French-speaking cities is as close as any. We used the editorial at that time of the Paris Attacks to call for rationality and to avoid knee-jerk reactions that would arbitrarily punish refugees or create an environment of Islamophobia.

Now we want to use it to call for critical thinking about the violence being reported on. Yes, this violence is horrible, and yes, we need to stand together in solidarity for the victims of these heinous acts of violence, which took place in parks, homes and streets around the world. But we, as Canadians, also need to understand where some of this violence is coming from.

War, we’ve heard, is ugly. And that is exactly what is being reported on. These bloody acts of terror and violence are acts of war, yet Western media usually forgets that war is fought between multiple sides. Even more difficult to explain is the conflict itself. The U.S. and its allies warring against Daesh is a painfully oversimplified version of the conflict. The truth of the matter is that one of the motivaters driving fighters to join terrorist groups, such as Daesh, is payback. After witnessing Western attacks cause countless civilian deaths is it really so unimaginable that people are driven to radicalization? But civilian attacks that drive people to radicalization are not what we hear about. It’s framed by Western media like the West is the only victim.

And that is not—by any means—to say that the innocents killed in Pakistan, Ivory Coast, Turkey, Belgium or anywhere else in the world were not victims. They were, and deserve to be remembered as victims of this violence.

Daesh is abhorrent, anyone who fights for them is committing evil acts, and they need to be stopped. However, to ignore the violence being facilitated by America and her allies against innocent peoples across the globe—because at the end of the day even Daesh is made up of people, who could be just like us if born into different circumstances—is worse than ignorant. It’s insulting, and monster-creating. And we’re not only talking about Daesh as the monster here.

When was the last time you saw someone updating their Facebook profile picture to mourn the weddings, schools or hospitals bombed by Western forces? Because that happens. The death, horror and killing of innocents is happening on both sides of this conflict.

Glenn Greenwald, in an article published on The Intercept on March 25, summarized it best: “If we are constantly bombarded with images and stories and dramatic narratives highlighting our own side’s victims, while the victims of our side’s violence are rendered invisible, it’s only natural that large numbers of us will conclude that only They, but not We, are committing civilian-killing violence. That’s a really pleasing thing to believe, no matter how false it is. Having media outlets perpetrate self-pleasing and tribal-affirming—but utterly false—narratives is the very definition of propaganda.”

Did you forget Canada is at war? If you don’t like the violence being done to your side, start paying attention to the violence being done by both sides. Break away from the one-sided propaganda being fed to you.

Follow Al Jazeera, The Intercept, Russia Today and alternative media sources to get different points of view and diversify your understanding. Read everything critically. And if you don’t like it, stop passively taking a back seat and let your government know how you feel. Voice your discontentment and put an end to any violence you don’t condone.


The Concordian would like to note that Pierre A. Lepetit disagrees with this editorial stance.

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