Originally published on Medium
Coverage of the war in Ukraine by Western Media has displayed racist undertones exposing animus against non-white populations. Many of us have seen the coverage. It started with Charlie D’Agata for CBS News referring to Ukrainians as “relatively civilized” while comparing them to refugees from other war-torn countries. But for every Charlie D’Agata, there are world leaders being shamelessly blatant about their hate for Black and Brown people.
The dehumanization of non-white populations in Western media is constant. In the U.S., it’s not just the demonization of Muslim, Asian, or African communities. Undermining Black and Indigenous populations always comes first followed by the criminalization of immigrants from Latin America and nearly every other Black and Brown nation.
We see that bias all too often on local and national news in the United States.
Seeing it on mainstream media on a global scale is a rarity for U.S. citizens whose media is isolated from the rest of the world. Yes, isolated. We never hear about Yemen, Syria, Ethiopia, Palestine, or other wars the U.S is involved in. Our media ensures that we maintain focus on seemingly trivial issues. Stoking fear of other nations with a focus on driving conflict narratives. Stories that are largely manufactured based on unimportant or unconfirmed information — purposely invoking constant worry.
“This isn’t a place, with all due respect, like Iraq or Afghanistan that has seen conflict raging for decades. This is a relatively civilized, relatively European — I have to choose those words carefully, too — city where you wouldn’t expect that, or hope that it’s going to happen.” — Charlie D’Agata, CBS News
Those of us who write extensively about colonialism and imperialism weren’t shocked to know that media talking heads and world leaders held wildly discriminating ideas. Watching it unfold in real-time on some of the most-watched channels in the U.S. was certainly validating. Sure, we’re familiar with Tucker Carlson’s brand of bigotry. But when well-respected reporters said the quiet parts out loud, they shocked the world by exposing the bias in their reporting.
Global White Power Structures
Everyone knows the damage white power structures do. Big media, that is to say, global media is part of that. News outlets have always been used to report propaganda as if it’s real. They do it all the time for police departments and police unions across the U.S. They did it hundreds of years ago to demonize Black people as well as immigrants from every country on the planet.
They do it to sanitize what our military does overseas.
From the internment of the Japanese population in the U.S. to the internment of asylum-seeking families torn apart by the system. The media helps drive paranoia and fear into the population using specific language such as “surge,” “invasion,” and “crisis” when referring to migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border. Similarly, they use specific terminology to demonize Black, Latino, and Indigenous people. Yet, they use tones of justification for white criminals and even police.
What we’re seeing in the media on a global scale has been normalized and fine-tuned in the U.S. for centuries and perfected in the last few decades. As global civil society becomes more aware of dog-whistles used by politicians, the rhetoric begins to show itself in the most obvious of places. It’s used to bolster what many of us refer to as white power structures.
But it’s not unique to the Americas.
What many U.S. citizens don’t realize is, what happens in the United States is happening all over the world. For example, Trump’s failed policy of locking migrants in detention centers resulted in his administration implementing a policy of forcing asylum-seekers to stay in Mexico. They are forced to live on the streets and await hearings for their asylum. A carbon copy of Europe’s efforts to force African asylum-seekers into inhumane migrant camps or lock them out entirely.
But when it comes to white immigrants, the doors are wide open both in Europe and the Americas. That’s because world leaders, including those here in the U.S., are supporting and perpetrating continued colonialism. While Tucker Carlson cries about white people being replaced, the reality is, white people are still trying to dominate the world.
Some things are as simple as two-plus-two. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a war among white people, has dominated the news cycle for over a month. Consequently, it’s driving conversations across the country while complacency sets in about racial justice, immigration reform, voting rights, nursing shortages, teacher shortages, and police budgets exploding with billions in new funds. Before you know it, we’ll be living in a full neo-totalitarian police state.
There’s no question that white-owned media promotes a narrative of oppressed white people that must fight back. That became painfully obvious when learning about Vietnam and watching the events after 9/11 unfold as the U.S. started two wars that would last 20 years. Nearly one million people died because war hawks deemed Middle Easterners enemies of Western life.
In addition, the United States remains involved in usurping and installing autocratic leaders friendly to U.S. corporate interests in Latin America. It’s involved in starving the Cuban people and denying them access to markets around the world. The United States made great efforts to isolate Cuba by ensuring the internet never reached the island. It denies Cubans free trade by forcing them to pay cash for goods and only allowing the bare minimum to reach the people.
When any country in Latin America removes a U.S.-backed autocrat, whether by force or by democratic elections, the United States gets involved to install someone who is pro-U.S. In just the last 15 years, we saw it happen in Honduras. We saw them try to install Juan Guaido in Venezuela. In 2010, the U.S. backed a coup in Haiti. Then, in 2019, it backed a coup in Bolivia.
And so on, and so on.
For someone who studies colonialism, this is not uncommon. The United States has been intervening in Latin American elections for more than a century. Similarly, the country has been involved in overthrowing governments and displacing tens of millions around the world. But the narratives presented by Western media hardly reflect the reality of colonialist imperialism.
Worldwide White Supremacy
Most people around the world have heard the racist comments made by both media pundits and world leaders alike. Below are just a few of the comments made since the invasion of Ukraine began more than a month ago:
Spanish Member of Parliament, Santiago Abascal told Spain’s parliament:
“Anyone can tell the difference between [Ukrainian refugees] and the invasion of young military-aged men of Muslim origin who have thrown themselves against European borders in an attempt to destabilize and colonize it.”
Bulgarian Minister Kiril Petkov also fed racist stereotypes saying:
“[Ukrainians] are not the refugees we are used to … these people are Europeans. These people are intelligent, they are educated people … this is not the refugee wave we have been used to, people we were not sure about their identity, people with unclear pasts, who could have been even terrorists. In other words, there is not a single European country now that is afraid of the current wave of refugees.”
In Greece, Member of Parliament, Dimitris Kairidis said on live TV that:
“…to sit and be slaughtered in the heart of Europe … and if you want to say it cynically, here we are not talking about a massacre in a remote part of Africa with non-religious people, but — to put it quite cynically, I know it sounds politically unorthodox, but unfortunately that also counts — Christians, whites, Europeans, who are from us, come from us.”
Former Ukrainian Deputy Prosecutor, David Sakvarelidze said:
“It’s very emotional for me because I see European people with blue eyes and blonde hair being killed, children being killed every day by [Russian President] Putin’s missiles, helicopters, and rockets.”
To deny that concerted white supremacist efforts exist around the world is to be willfully ignorant at this point. The words of world leaders, including those here in the U.S., shouldn’t be taken lightly. Rather, they should be taken for what they are.
Ignoring the hate speech and those who speak it won’t make it go away. If that were the case, white supremacy would have died long ago. Instead, we’re dealing with a growing global threat. Starting right here in the U.S.
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