This is one of the most beautifully produced pieces of Western propaganda I have seen in a long time. There is no doubt that MSNBC spent a lot of time, money and design effort, in collaboration with the ‘great’ Magnum Photo agency, to put this together. But there is also no doubt, that this entire body of work, with all its fancy graphics, its large-scale photographic presentations, its sophisticated digital presentation structure, is entirely meant to help us forget.
Specifically, this photo essay does three things:
– Create the impression that a flood of zombie-like brown skin ‘refugees’ are flocking to our clean, White shores for reasons that have nothing to do with our illegal wars, occupations and invasions, and consistent support for dictatorships (Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Iraq for example)
– Create the impression that ‘Europe’ is under threat, and its ‘cultural’ values drowning and in danger of dilution from these ‘refugee’s who come from the ‘other world
– The pain and strain of the European / Western, as she grapples with her inner morality and humanity, and the economic pressures and demands of these ‘beggars’ and ‘usurpers’.
The silence of photojournalism, and the ease with which photographer’s works become tools of propaganda has always been one of the most troublesome issues for me. I find so many Magnum Photo photographers (correction: and those from other major agencies like NOOR, VII etc.) allowing their images to be part of overtly propagandist projects that skew our understanding of the world and use the images to do so. And whereas I realize that photographers can’t often speak back, what I find dismaying is that they do not speak out at all – whether on blogs, or seminars or talks, they never reveal the ways which they lost control of their works, or found them being used in ways they had not intended, or against their own understanding of the situation.
But, coming back to this MSNBC blitzkrieg of super design and information sophistication, what is striking is that at no point throughout this visual feast, do we ever learn that:
– An illegal invasion of Iraq perpetuated the first set of massive refugee flows, a war that continues today in a nation that is riven with violence, destruction and madness
– That Afghanistan after its ‘liberation’ have festered into a narco-state with thousands dying in that ongoing war and fleeing the madmen, warlords, war criminals that European and American money funds and supports
– That an illegal assault (NATO, USA) on Libya that soon followed created chaos and mayhem in the region.
– That wars are being funded and supported in Yemen and in Syria
– That billions have been spent by NATO, France, USA, SA and others to extend the madness in Syria.
– Nothing about Chad, or Mali where French forces have waged war
There is nothing. No mention of how we perpetuate war with weapons, with economics, and with policies. No connection between the millions fleeing and dying across the globe, but instead, a complete white wash of our role in the chaos we unleashed under our bombers and ‘surgical strikes’, and with the funding of brutal criminals that continue to wine and dine with our leaders (Netanyahu, Sisi, any Saudi state goon and more), and continue to come and visit our fine cities.
All of this is absent. Here is the text the explains Syria as MSNBC sees it:
They [the refugees] turn away from ISIS in Iraq, civil war in Syria, and religious violence throughout the Middle East and North Africa. What they face in exchange is a wall of public anxiety, virulent populism and the threat of closed borders for thousands of miles.
Seriously? The refugee crisis began with ISIS? There is a civil war in Syria (strange, why are Russian, American, French, Iranian and Lebanese forces present there then, and where is all the money, weapons and ‘advisor’ coming from?), and religious violence? That last one – the Middle East is always about ‘religious’ war, never about our wars, was so specious and egregious that it made me weep. This is all so completely wrong and entirely ahistorical. It is so laughable a cleansing of history, that one wonders if anyone at MSNBC has even read a newspaper, let alone any books. Wait, this is MSNBC, so that question is moot!
But this is written to erase our citizen’s guilt, and to recreate us as ‘victims’ of injustices and humanitarian crisis that is occurring elsewhere. This is the classic ‘human rights’ approach, where causality, context, history and politics are erased entirely, and we only see the pathology of the body, the victim, the individual. It allows us – we whose nations carry out the wars, and the invasions, who elect the leaders who gloat about bombing campaigns and mass murder – to feel that we are ‘good’ people doing ‘good’ things. But we are not: we are the very evil that we believe exists out there. We just can’t face it.
MSNBC helps us hide it. Here is their take on what happened in Libya:
To tell the story of Libya’s escalating migration crisis, one must weave together the threads of instability left behind by a toppled dictator, Muammar Gaddafi, and the power vacuum filled by rivaling factions vying to take his place. The chaos allowed smuggling networks to thrive, suddenly opening up a lucrative market designed to profit off trading humans like other goods and commodities.
Wait, what? First, Libya has been a migration pathway for decades and this has nothing to do with the illegal, and entirely inhumane, assault by US / NATO forces on a sovereign nation. Anyone at Magnum can pull out or Raymond Depardon images that show you migrants in Libya, and that was back in the 1970s. This migration roots too have history. But ‘threads of instability’ is how MSNBC white wash the Western attack on Libya, and the cold blooded murder of its leader. As Hilary Clinton so disgustingly, in true war-criminal fashion, gloated ‘ We came. We saw. He died’. Guffaw. Guffaw.
MSNBC white washed that last 16 years of Western wars in the region, and repaints the entire situation as a flood of people arriving at good Europe’s door for reasons that are entirely alien and unrelated to Western political policies, war strategies, corporate greed, political goals, geo-political rivalries and more. None of these issues are allowed to stain what is a fluff piece of bullshit online journalism, supported by vivid images that help blind us to the lies we are fed here. But there is no doubt, it is lies that we are being fed here, and this is not news or journalism, but propaganda of the purest, most sophisticated form that permits Western citizens to continue to believe that no matter how many people we murder, nations we destroy, lives we cripple, and souls we consume, we are never to blame, nor did we ever have anything to do with the debris that washes up on our shores. And the only way to maintain this schizoid, mentally deranged state of awareness, is to be fed this sort of trash journalism and these sort of sophisticated and ‘awe inspiring’ graphics and visuals. Virtual reality helmets coming to your door real soon!