Wednesday, March 09, 2022

Interesting Slant On Ukraine

There is no need to clutch one's pearls. Joy Ann-Reid brought up an important issue. Fortunately, she was mostly wrong when on Monday evening she commented

As the world watches the devastation unfolds in Ukraine, nearly 4,000 miles away, another crisis is deepening that we don`t hear much about in the U.S., and that is the war in Yemen.

In March of 2015, a Saudi-led coalition backed by the United States intervened militarily in Yemen in a bid to fight Iran-backed Houthi rebels. It has triggered one of the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, due to widespread hunger, disease and attacks on civilians. Four million Yemenis have been forced to flee their homes.

Now, what we`re seeing in Ukraine is absolutely the worst humanitarian crisis that Europe has seen in decades, but we haven`t witnessed the same type of solidarity for the Yemenis as we do for the Ukrainians. We don`t see historic sanctions or global campaigns, corporations like Airbnb and Netflix taking a stand.

Now, this is not to say that we shouldn`t care this much for Ukraine. Far from it. The point is, we should also care this much for refugees and those facing occupation and war in the Middle East and Asia and Africa too.

The coverage of Ukraine has revealed a pretty radical disparity in how human Ukrainians look and feel to Western media, compared to their browner and blacker counterparts, with some reporters using very telling comparisons in their analyses of the war....

OK, let`s face it. The world is paying attention because this is happening in Europe. If this was happening anywhere else, would we see the same outpouring of support and compassion?

But we don`t need to ask ourselves if the international response would be the same if Russia unleashed their horror on a country that wasn`t white and largely Christian, because Russia has already done it in Syria.

This is a teachable moment for us in the media. We aren`t afraid to call out our own industry. There is a lot of soul-searching that we need to do in Western media about why some wars and lives seem to matter more than others and why some refugees get the welcome mat, while others get the wall.

First, this: it's not a "teachable moment when Reid is calling out her "own industry" while a) not naming any one individual or news organization; b) covering Ukraine in her own show much more than she ever did Yemen; and c) omitting any criticism of the Democratic president whom she loyally supported for the top job over Donald Trump.

Vladimir Putin's Russia invaded a nation with a stable and largely Democratic government, one which had asked for NATO membership and sent soldiers to U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Ukraine has been an ally of the USA and of the European Union.

In Yemen, the Houthi radical Shiite movement helped force the resignation of the president, who stepped down in 2011 in favor of his deputy, who in turn was forced to flee Yemen in 2015 in the face of an escalation of the insurgency. Concerned that the Houthis were backed by Shia Iran, Saudi Arabia began an aerial campaign, aided by logistical and intelligence forces from the USA, the UK, and France. Civil war has continued, now exacerbated by an Islamic State group, which has taken some territory in the south, which the Houthis want as an independent state.

Yemen is suffering a civil war fueled by a religious rivalry in which a religious minority is suffering the brunt of civilian casualties.  The contrast with Ukraine is obvious and dramatic, which should be clear to everyone, even someone such as Joy Ann-Reid, prone to view through a racial lens events with only the barest of racial undertones.

Speaking of which: in December, 2017 an obedient Daniel Shaver crawled in a hotel hallway on his stomach as demanded by verbally abusive police officer Philip Brailsford.. Totally subservient and obviously helpless, Shaver was shot dead by the officer, who ultimately was acquitted of second degree murder, was reinstated, then retired, and now receives a pension.

Shaver was white. You won't remember this case and may not have heard about it even at the time because it was a one-day story nationally.  There was video of most of the encounter, and it still passed into history with barely a mention, though the Justice Department has been investigating the case since 2018.

I don't know why there was so little attention. But, notwithstanding Reid's slant on the media, this is not an instance of brutality virtually ignored because the only victim was non-white.  It is a case which should give Reid pause in accusing the media of a lack of concern about suffering and death because of the race or color of the victims. And maybe it would- except that, like most of the country, she probably never heard about it.


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