The Media Didn’t Create This Divide

Like most Americans, I’ve spent the last 72 hours following the events of Charlottesville, VA very closely. I’ve laughed at the memes, I’ve been angered by the Nazis alt-right protesters, and I’ve spent my fair share of that time arguing with people on the internet. But you know what? I understand why these protests (and the subsequent counter-protests) are going on, why they’ve become violent, and why people are justifying them.

Two Facebook comments popped up on a friend’s post wherein she shared a video showing the torch-bearing mob intimidating counter-protesting students. These strike at the heart of the issue in a way unlike anything else I’ve seen:

Lol did you not see this coming? News and media has been making white people out to be the bad guy for so long and doubly so recently it was only a matter of time before big things like tnis happened. Not says its right or okay just saying

And

Did anybody expect anything different? Its been a racial divide perpetuated and pushed by the media. People forget white population still make up 63% of the country. It was literally only a matter of time before it happened. Maybe now the media will stop pushing this divide and try to ease tension.

This idea that the media is responsible for all that ails us isn’t new. It may be more popular now than in the past, but it’s a sentiment that’s been expressed since at least the 19th century. There’s a small problem: It’s complete and utter bullshit.

The media does not create events. It can influence the narrative but it does not create events. All it does is amplify them. Black Lives Matter wasn’t created by the media, but it was widely amplified by it. Reporting on murders by police officers doesn’t create those murders; nor does reporting on the racial slurs and swastikas spraypainted on Jewish-owned businesses paint them.

If you feel personally attacked by the fact that people are reporting on the awful things done by white people against persons of color, you are part of the problem. The truth should not and shall not be buried to keep you comfortable. None of this is new, it’s simply being talked about. By painting the media as the enemy here, you are doing two things, both with serious ramifications: 1) You are saying that the discussion of civil rights has a more negative impact on you than the abuses of those desiring civil rights. 2) You are saying that the victim here is you.

If you care even one iota for journalistic integrity, for freedom of press, for freedom of speech, for equality, or for the rights of your fellow men and women: stop shooting the goddamn messenger and talk about why these issues actually exist and what we can do about it. You are standing beside the Nazi thugs in the streets of Charlottesville right now. Step away from them and into the 21st century. Please.

 
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