Not my headline. It’s that of a NYTimes op-ed from yesterday (Monday, August 28). One day after the reported violent demonstration by black-clad, black-hooded, anti-Nazi protesters in Berkeley. An op-ed which, to my surprise, is in contrast to much of the continuing mainstream media coverage of that violent outburst. As in, there is next to none. Hence my admittedly provocative borrowing of that NYTimes headline.
Let me begin by making one thing absolutely clear. In Charlottesville earlier this month, a young woman, who by all accounts was protesting peacefully against the AltRight, white supremacists and Nazi’s, that young woman was run down and killed by a young man, whom no-one has denied associated himself with the far right.
The flare-up in Berkeley this past Sunday, again according to mainstream media accounts at the time and shortly afterwards, resulted in at least five people being assaulted. No deaths were reported.
I do not for one moment draw any equivalence between a tragic death and five assaults. Certainly, I would not seek to do so merely for political reasons.
In the same vein, I sincerely hope that we are not witnessing an absence of continuing coverage about Berkeley solely due to the political stance of most of the mainstream media.
It would be an understatement to declare that most of the mainstream media are not natural supporters of the far right. Nor of Trump. Nor am I. But I would be genuinely concerned if that same media decided they had identified an opportunity to score points against Trump and the AltRight by playing up far right violence. While downplaying far left violence.
We saw similar media bias (Clinton over Trump) during the US Presidential election in 2016. I expressed concern at the time. Not because I wanted to protect Trump. Far from it. And quite the opposite. I was troubled because the consequence of the slant was to underplay the threat Trump represented. And it may have been one of the reasons why so many non-Trump supporters stayed home. They thought they were safe.
My worry now is that, if the mainstream media feel they have chanced upon an opportunity to damage Trump with his seeming one-sided support of the far right. And that, as a consequence, the mainstream media feel it is ok to ignore violence on the far left. The toxic result may be that the general populace are inadvertently lulled into a false sense of security about the threat from the far left.
None of this is to minimize the danger represented by the hateful polemic and threatened violence of the far right. One of the most frightening aspects of which is their newfound ability to organize effectively.
But, as the NYTimes article makes clear, the far right and the far left are currently feeding off each other. To condemn one, to the advantage of the other, by ignoring the other, for misplaced short-term political advantage, could have unforeseen and potentially devastating consequences.
(And, one more time, just so that all readers are absolutely clear. I condemn equally all hatred and violence. And I do not support the notion of ‘defensive’ violence,’ as it is applied generally to generic public protesting. I believe only in peaceful protest.
Our communities already have in place systems of law enforcement agreed to by those communities. Rules of engagement may not be perfect. But it is for communities to address these potential failings. Not for individuals to take matters into their own hands. Without the permission of the wider community.
I may appear to be focusing my attention on the hatred and violence of the far left. But that is because of what I perceive as the imbalance of media coverage. An imbalance which appears to be occurring this week with respect to Berkeley. It bothers me. It is dangerous. More to the point, I would prefer that we all concentrate on healing, not dividing.)
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