A Look At The News

Image: Tatsiana Volskaya

Image: Tatsiana Volskaya

Lately, the news has been fraught with information on the United States running migrant detention centers on its southern border. These centers house thousands of immigrants in poor conditions, and have controversially been referred to as concentration camps. 

What the news does not cover, is that over one million Muslim Uighurs citizens are being held in Chinese concentration camps. These internment camps are forcefully assimilating ethnic minorities into the Han majority of China. It is also not frequently reported that Australia is holding refugees in offshore detention centers. Since 2001, immigrants attempting to enter Australia have been held outside of its borders in inhumane detention centers.

Unfortunately, these concentration camp-like institutions are not unique. There are dozens of programs qualified as concentration camps instituted across the world at this very moment. And there have been countless camps instituted throughout history, with the term originating back to the Cuban insurrection of the 1890’s. The most well known and referenced concentration camp system was that of Nazi Germany, which consisted of death camps that systematically killed millions of Jewish people. 

So after all these injustices and deaths, one may ask “why don’t I know about all of these concentration camps?” After thousands of wars, famines, and concentration camps, why isn’t every instance of inhumanity known by the general public? The root cause lies in not one, but many factors. 

We may not know about every single camp simply because there are simply too many to remember; perhaps it’s because nations have swept these issues under the rug; but the phenomenon of losing pieces of history could also be due to the nature of news itself. 

Experts claim that early camps were “institutional and ideological forces..[that] exhibited features that we can recognize today.” The forces referred to are generic political and social functions, usually to repress those of other nationalities and perform “social cleansing”. Whereby the camps provide an ideal way to get rid of unwanted social threats or political scapegoats. After thousands of years of conflict between different groups of people, the camp system to control certain populations is almost an inevitable outcome of social conflict resolutions. 

This lack of diversity is part of a bigger issue and factors into institutionalized racism. Racism is most often seen in institutionalized forms, where political systems support expression of prejudice in discriminatory practices or law. Forms of racism have been seen throughout human history. According to Bernard Lewis, the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle stated that there was an inherent difference between Greeks and non-Greek citizens. That the others were “barbarians and slaves by nature”. Even though this early racism is more based on location than ethnicity, it is still an important precursor to modern day eugenic based racism. 

Racism is not isolated to thoughts, and has permeated action and news for as long as spoken language has been around. News was shared by town criers, in community gatherings, and was eventually recorded by the written word. It’s inevitable that racist ideologies influenced what news was shared, and with whom. The first newspapers established in the US were linked to political parties and the publisher’s economic interests. They were founded on sensationalism and exaggeration to profit and push political agendas. This may be surprising, but is actually how James Madison intended news institutions to work, as outlined in Federalist 10. Madison t them to balance political parties by creating conflict in opposing factions. 

News content comes from only a handful of sources around the world. In the United States, the two main newswires supplying content are Reuters and the Associated Press. These news outlets lack diversity. They also lack established gender equality. Statements and headlines written without equal stances from all ethnicity and gender can just turn into inflammatory statements that push divides further apart. 

Modern day news has the appearance of unbiased, omniscient reporting. But the lack of diversity in media and news, combined with inherent racism in the human experience, prevents such news from proliferating.  Not only are the presented views biased, but the selection of what events are reported are biased. 

The key to acting against systematic injustice is by informing the public. So to fight against injustice within information, the public must demand diversity and a devotion to equality within academics.Make sure to access a wide variety of information on different ideas with contrasting views. Go out there and inform the world.

Sarah LeClair Comment