The Western Media and The New Red Scare

PHOTO: Chinese military men

By Ian

It appears that the current media buildup against China is working. A recent poll of Americans asked which country is the greatest enemy to the United States. China at 14% (up 3% from a year ago) was voted third behind Iran at 25% and Iraq at 21%. Compare this to North Korea who appeared 4th on the list with 9% of respondents. The fact that Iraq is still seen as an enemy of the US is laughable since it’s currently under the control of our military and a government friendly to our own. The fact that China is seen as an enemy is equally laughable since they are one of our largest financial investors and don’t seem at all interested in military confrontation with us. Don’t forget that China is also our second largest trade partner after Canada.

This latest Red Scare was most recently accelerated by a slew of consumer warnings about the safety of products made in China. It got to the point that some people were even calling for a boycott of Chinese products, which is next to impossible. Is such concern over the safety of imports into our country justified? Absolutely, and the proper way to handle such concern is to call for better regulation in China. Is there an element of xenophobia to the reactions of many Americans? You bet. The outrage over Chinese products is disproportionate to that we see for American made products. The pharmaceutical industry is loaded with faulty products like antidepressants, birth control, and cholesterol drugs. We aren’t hearing the same outcry calling for change in how the pharmaceutical industry is regulated or how drugs are approved by the FDA. Instead of a lasting positive change, we are debating whether or not consumers can sue the FDA over specific drugs, such as in the Ortho Evra case. Personally, I care more about my family members relying on ineffective or harmful medications than my dog eating tainted food.

This Red Scare has since been ramped up with the upcoming Olympics and the current situation with Tibet. Take a look at this article from Time magazine. Take note of the portrayal of the Dalai Lama and how he is used as a representative for the idea of Tibet. Notice the language used to describe the current actions of Tibetans (“demonstrations”, “marchers”, “disturbances”) and for the Chinese government (“brutal crackdown”). Now look at this portrayal of the situation in Tibet from the Chinese media. Its bias is completely in the opposite direction. Tibetans are described as “violent mobs” and the Dalai Lama is portrayed as a sort of nefarious mastermind pulling strings behind the scenes. You may say, “But this is from the state controlled media in China. Of course they are going to be overly biased.” I’m hoping that reading the bias from this state controlled media will act as a mirror to make you see the blatant bias within our own. Chinese around the world are decrying the Western media bias but it seems to fall on deaf ears here in the US.

So what really is the truth of the situation in Tibet? I honestly don’t know but I would venture to guess that it is somewhere between that of the Chinese and Western media. China is abusing human rights in their attempts to calm these protests. Tibetans are being violent and rioting as these photos will show. Notice the burned stores and vehicles, the Han Chinese citizens being attacked, and the monk attempting to kick in a door. We should condemn the severity of the actions taken by China to stop the unrest in Tibet, but we cannot fault them for taking action to try and maintain order. We should also condemn the violence committed by the Tibetan protesters, but we must remain sensitive to their complaints. In the Dalai Lama’s own words, “Since China wants to join the world community, the world community has a real responsibility to bring China into the mainstream.”

The Olympics are supposed to be about sports, not politics. It is supposed to be an event that brings the world together. The Western media, protesting Tibetans and their sympathizers around the world should not use this occasion for their own gains. The media has a responsibility to report the truth as unbiased as possible. They should be using truth as a bridge to bring us together rather than work to divide us apart.

Flickr photo from chenta

One Comment

  1. Ian

    It finally got comments!
    [Spam removed – Chris]