Unbalanced reporting is feeding our ignorance


I overheard one of my colleagues at work the other day. He was listening to a news report about the prospect of British jets bombing Isis targets in Syria.

“Let’s bomb them,” he said.

I often hear him saying such things.

He’s not a right wing bigot or a racist, although he might be Islamophobic. Many people are Islamophobic these days.

I said, “that’s exactly what they are saying about you right now.”

He turned from his frame and looked at me sceptically. “So what would you do?”

Unfortunately my answer was a lot less succinct than the three words which had summed up his argument.

I said we should cut off their funding. I pointed out that Isis appear to be backed by Turkey, one of our allies. I tried to tell him about the Saudi connection and the export of their Wahhabi philosophy.

I reminded him of the million or more dead Iraqis and the devastation of that entire country; about Western backing for Islamic extremists in Libya, and the use of militant jihadists to destabilise Syria.

It’s a whole complex argument which isn’t easy to get over when you’re attempting to tie up bundles of mail ready to take out on a busy morning at the Royal Mail.

I remembered a quote from Noam Chomsky which I thought might clarify things: “Everybody’s worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there’s a really easy way: stop participating in it.”

I didn’t say it though.

I realised I would have to explain who Chomsky was.

That’s when it struck me. The division isn’t between the right and the left: it’s between the informed and the misinformed.

If you don’t know who Chomsky is, then you are misinformed. It is a measure of the failure of our media that so many people are entirely ignorant of the argument, going back to the Vietnam War, and articulated most clearly by Chomsky, that the United States is, in fact, a global expansionist Empire.

Without knowing that you cannot possibly understand the real meaning of the events unfolding in our world today.


For a longer version of this article please go to:


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9 thoughts on “Unbalanced reporting is feeding our ignorance

  1. I loved your book based on your Guardian pieces. Unfortunately I don’t love this. Syria has been the subject of a great deal of misinformation, but it is precisely that misinformation that you endorse. Syria is undergoing a revolution¹ against a genocidal dictatorship, not a Western proxy war for régime change. I could go through it claim by claim, and show them to be false or a gross misrepresentation, like the claim that Turkey supports ISIS.² But maybe I should cut to the chase and talk about Noam Chomsky. I’ve always been an admirer of his political analysis, that the “international community” so often means the White House when it comes to Israel, or the observation that the Vietnam War was an American war against South Vietnam stick in the mind. But on Syria he has got things badly wrong, relying on his friend Patrick Cockburn, whose covert support for Assad³ has become a full blown love affair with a new war on terror⁴ every bit as counterproductive and far more bloody than the last one. Syria could prove the undoing of all the respect Chomsky⁵ has built up in his lifetime.

    If you want to know more about Syria, I’ve been trying to poke through the media cloud to hear what Syrians have to say out the burning of their country since March 2012, so have posts⁶ on most aspects of what is happening in Syria. Thank-you for your time.



  2. Many years ago I was buying fish for my aquarium and noticed one fish that was eating the fins of the other fish. I pointed this out to the owner how promptly moved to another tank where it was eaten by a much bigger fish.
    I suppose the slightly long winded point is that some creatures aren’t intelligent enough to know when to stop even when it’s good for them. People who can commit such atrocities just want to watch the world burn, maybe its wiring, upbringing who knows, but asking nicely won’t do it. The strategy you describe will take years and cost who knows how many lives. The humanitarian in me wishes this would all just stop, but I’m absolutely certain that if all military action in the area was stopped and the measures you outline imposed the terrorist organisation would still flourish, and the attacks against everyone not aligned with their ideals would continue to be attacked.
    Also I’m not sure the ignorance you refer to is solely western based. I’m pretty sure some of the people who are running round acting in the name of any terrorist organisation is not acting with all the facts but has been duped at some point. One thing you can count on angry people to be is angry, be it you bombed me or you cut me up on the A40, this is the age of rage, history tells us it won’t go away.
    I’m in no way saying that bombing people is the right answer, I don’t have the right answer, I’m not sure there is one. All’s not well in the garden of Eden and I think we dispassionately have to do some weeding. So Sorry.


  3. We in the East already knew the gross intentions what West has been very optimistic on invading our territories but what our political leadership couldn’t really premeditated and effectively managed this onslaught was because, majority of our political leadership as well monarchs were the ultimate beneficiaries of such wars profits so they kept themselves to be ‘headless chickens’ and roasted beefs didn’t bother to tackle the Western invading intentions, resulting in catastrophic massacres of our innocent people and destabilizing our whole region, steaming up radicalization, and blistering militancy. This whole mayhem of massacre and collapse of empires can equally be coincided and regional stakeholders have equally be held accountable for as well.

    One of the worst and paranoid mistakes, majority of Middle eastern powers made, was that they couldn’t strengthen their military capabilities the way, we in Pakistan have piled up. The West was equally ready to destabilize and destroy our land as well hadn’t we have this strongest military capabilities and might.
    Secondly, Pakistan Intelligence agencies were smart enough to anticipate this threat and kept roughing around the Western forces in Afghanistan, keeping them roasted in the torrential and unfriendly terrains, these US-NATO led coalition forces failed to get out of.


  4. #sheeple ? #people ?- its been like this since news/propaganda technologies were invented ..printing press, industrial revolution onward ..
    the majority of people on earth are not deep ! lol ! – you just have to scratch their surface to see that – i work with jo public. Psychology data I have looked at -prooves most people are gullible especially wrt authority figures . We uk humans are no different to the german humans that voted for Hitler (for example .) Empires come and go [ IMHO ]
    Like · Reply · Just now


  5. #democracy ? #sheeple ? #people ?
    Status quo since news/propaganda technologies were invented ..printing press, industrial revolution onward .. the majority of people on earth are not deep – you just have to scratch their surface to see that – I work with jo public.
    Psychology data proves most people are gullible especially wrt authority figures . We uk humans are no different to the german humans that voted for Hitler (for example .) IMHO


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