The war in Ukraine reveals western media bias.04 Mar 2022
As a prerequisite to this article it is primarily important to note that it is possible to fully and completely support the war in Ukraine and spread awareness, whilst at the same time highlighting western hypocrisy; when it comes to war in other parts of the world. War in any capacity that harms and damages the quality of life of civilians, regardless of their religion and race, must be condemned. People must continue to support those in Ukraine in the manner that they are, but the constant turmoil in places such as Yemen, Syria, Palestine and Kashmir (just to name a few), cannot be ignored.
It is evident that the western media have disproportionately covered the conflicts in countries such as Yemen and Palestine, in comparison to the current exposure on the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. The choice words used by media outlets and influential individuals also differs between the different conflicts. The media have time and time again labelled the ongoing wars in Palestine, Yemen and Syria as ‘Islamist’ wars. This in turn has shifted blame, and led to Muslim victims of war being labelled as the perpetrators and ‘terrorists’. It wrongfully suggests that these victims of war are to blame for their own oppression. What can be condemned further is the responses gained when civilians from these countries attempt to defend themselves from attacks and are instead labelled as ‘terrorists’, but when Ukrainian civilians did the same they have been labelled as ‘heroic’. We have seen the BBC celebrate the ‘brave’ Ukrainian women making Molotov cocktail bombs, and the BBC also have commended the ‘heroic’ Ukrainian solider when he blew himself up; but there has been no acknowledgement of the women and children in Syria fighting off attacks with rocks. Why is the ‘lionizing’ of white western civilians more palatable than that of civilians living in the middle-east? The civilians living under threat in the east have been dehumanized to the point where people have begun to view war in these countries as a norm.
An important point can be raised about human nature, are we only able to sympathize when we can see ourselves in the same position, or see ourselves being directly impacted by something? Social media has recently been flooded by concerned people, for Ukraine, and also for themselves and the possibility that this war will impact other European countries. It’s possible that important political leaders are only able to relate and send aid to countries where they can visualize themselves or their family in a similar position. They may see a baby who has similar European characteristics to them suffering, and immediately feel a responsibility; but when seeing the same imagery of a Syrian or Palestinian baby not feel the same way. We cannot allow any victims of war to be dehumanized any further.
Events unfolding in Ukraine currently have also demonstrated that ethnic minorities, and Muslims are not as well protected as their white counterparts. Ukrainians are being welcomed with open arms’ in the same countries that turned away and at times shot Syrian and Iraqi refugees. Black West African students, workers and their families, as well as other “foreign” Muslims are now being blocked from leaving Ukraine, and being turned away at the Polish border. The Ukrainian police have threatened these victims at gunpoint telling them that Ukrainians have first priority. Once again the narrative that ethnic minorities and Muslims do not need saving, and are not first priority is being furthered.
A final and crucial point to consider here is how the West have contributed to war and conflict in the Middle east. The US currently supplies Israel with 70% of their arms, and Germany trails behind supplying Israel with 24% of their arms. These are the same countries who claim to support the Palestinian victims but are benefitting from the bloodshed. 73% of Saudi arms exports also come from the US, and 13% come from the UK. Saudi Arabia is using these arms to disrupt daily lives and harm innocent Yemeni civilians. The UK and other European countries are contributing and benefitting from these conflicts, and yet these same countries are aiming to tighten immigration and refugee entry.