With graphic images of children in war torn countries flashing across our television stations, and news articles filling our Facebook feeds. The American public is being bombarded with the what is being depicted as the ‘reality’ of the world today.
The question remains, to what degree can the mainstream media be trusted?
Many Americans believe strongly that the introduction of the internet was the death of censorship, eliminating the ability of the government to actively control the information that is being provided to the population. A 2015 article in The Atlantic, however, outlined the truth about modern censorship, and the many ways that the government has found to work around the new rules of the Internet.
The article stated, “The Internet can redistribute power. But it is naïve to assume that there is a simple technological fix or the determination of governments and national leaders to concentrate power and do whatever it takes to keep it. Censorship will rise and fall as technological innovation and the hunger for freedom clash with governments bent on controlling their citizens – starting with what they read, watch and heard.”
Freedom House focuses their attention on freedom of the press, and how it is, or isn’t, being applied worldwide. In their 2015 assessment, they explained, “The United States retains a diverse media landscape and strong legal protections for freedom of expression. Nonetheless, a combination of developments has placed journalists under new pressures in recent years, and these persisted during 2014. The most serious problems stem from tensions between press freedom and U.S. national security and counterterrorism efforts. They include government surveillance of journalists, government attempts to compel reporters to reveal the sources of leaked information, and Obama administration polices that severely limit interactions between journalists and officials.”
Most recently, a media band by Donald Trump’s administration, excluding select media outlets from attending a White House press conferences raises questions about freedom of the press, and the level to which it is currently being practiced.
In knowing that these concerns exist, it stands to reason that we should take the time to review the information that is being made readily accessible by the mainstream media. Is this accurate, factual information, or a censored and/or altered version? Are the ‘facts’ provided unbiased, or influenced by those who retain a level of power within the country?
Several concerns have been raised in regards to the information that is being shared by the media. Opponents question not only the validity of the stories, but also whether they are being manipulated with the purpose of using the suffering of children to play on the emotions of the American People. Would those in power stoop as low as capitalizing on the suffering of children?
One example in recent media reports is the sarin gas chemical weapons that were used in Syria. Photos emerged all over the mainstream media depicting the suffering and damage, however another picture that has been brought to light calls the previous reports heavily into question.
The CDC explains that sarin gas is a human-made chemical warfare agent, which as classified as a nerve agent, one of the most toxic and fast-acting types of chemical warfare. Under the list of ways in which an individual can be exposed to sarin gas, they include three that are worth noting when considering the above photo.
- Following release of sarin into the air, people can be exposed through skin contact or eye contact. They also can be exposed by breathing air that contains sarin.
- Sarin mixes easily with water. Following release of sarin into water, people can be exposure by touching or drinking water that contains sarin.
- A person’s clothing can release sarin after it has come in contact with sarin vapor, which can lead to exposure of other people.
With these three potential exposure points in mind – skin contact, contact with exposed water, and contact with a person’s clothing after the have been exposed – one must then look at the above picture and reconsider the validity of the claims. Within a few minutes of contact with sarin gas an individual will begin to show exposure. How then can the aid workers in this image be handling the allegedly exposed children with bare hands?
The cycle of war appears to run in a 25-year rotation – Every 25 years another major war occurs:
- Persian Gulf War: 1990-1991
- Vietnam War: 1954 – 1975
- World War II: 1939 – 1945
- World War I: 1914-1919
With that in mind, if those in power are actively manipulating the information being presented to the general population it stands to reason that they are doing so in order to generate wide spread support for the next war. The depiction of a strong, powerful military force, willing to stand up to those whose beliefs they question, and defending themselves against those that threaten their nation – that is the image that would create a feeling of support and understanding should the US be in a position in which they must declare war on another country.
The responsibility falls upon the American population to look at the information they are being fed critically, just as we have done above, and question when things don’t appear to make sense. Questioning and educating ourselves will ensure that we are not as easily manipulated. We need to ensure that we are active participants in our own political state, and not simply passive bystanders.