Irresponsible Media Has Led To White Supremacists
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Irresponsible Media Has Led To White Supremacists

White Nationalists don't become that way overnight.

Irresponsible Media Has Led To White Supremacists

As I watch flashes of the hatred and violence that took place yesterday in Charlottesville, I am overcome with emotions. I am watching videos and breaking down into tears because I can't believe what I'm seeing on my television screen, and yet, in a way, I can believe it.

I can believe that a group of men decided which humans were inherently less and one of those men decided that killing Heather Heyer in the streets was okay because she was standing for something that they didn't agree with. It's happened before and this probably won't be the last time.

It's incredibly jarring that for months, I've heard older adults and my more conservative peers complain about "snowflakes" and "the violent left." The left didn't kill anyone. What happened in Charlottesville was cold blooded terrorism, and it worked, because I'm terrified.

When I was in middle school, I was ignorant (as many middle schoolers usually are). I was conservative in all possible meanings of the word. I was a conservative Christian, against feminism, for the death penalty, against taxes, and I was adamantly pro-life to the point where I would argue with my friends' parents.

(My friends all came from more liberal households, and I credit their parents with much of my personal growth) I was lucky, and I was able to question my surroundings. Was I evil? No, I wasn't. Was my family evil? No, of course not.

I want to reiterate that my family's viewership of The O'Reilly Factor did not equate with recent events, at all. What happened in Charlottesville makes my heart ache, even more so because I know that hatred is learned and not innate.

Yet, had I not stopped at Fox News and moved onto more dangerous media like Breitbart or Daily Stormer, I wouldn't be sitting here writing this as a rationalist, anti-fascist, and women's liberationist today.

Being overtly political around impressionable people is dangerous. I would regurgitate what I had heard on Fox News without any understanding of the issues. All it took was for me to be exposed to an extreme pundit. I didn't stop to think that what I was saying had real life consequences for other people because children don't think, and unfortunately some adults don't think either.

No child is born thinking that women should not have personal agency, and no child is born thinking that white men are superior to people of color. We learn these ideologies through exposure to politicized media. In the same way that people become desensitized to increasingly violent pornographic images and bloody violence on the television, white people have become desensitized to racism in mainstream forms.

When we intake problematic media, it generates profits, views, and ratings. That is what media companies thrive off of. They will say and do whatever it takes to get a pat on the back from their primary viewership, even if that means they aren't taking the moral high ground. Capitalism can be brutal when there are no alternatives. So what should we do?

We should start using critical thinking and compassion. Philosopher John Rawls coined the term "veil of ignorance", which means that when we think about public policy, we do so without thinking about the advantages that we have. You must create policy, argues Rawls, as if you don't know where you fall into the social hierarchy.

If we educated our children to use the veil of ignorance when dealing with others, as well as to use critical thinking, empathy, and reason when analyzing public policy, then we'd be safer and a better country for all, not just a country for white men.

If we want a change to happen, we have to mobilize in droves. Turn off your television, get some statistics and look for people who were there and saw it happen. In the age of social media, you don't need to go to the networks.

There are reputable print publications like the New York Times and the Atlantic. There are YouTubers and Facebook live streams. There are so many mediums for so many people to communicate on. We must not let hatred infiltrate our lives.

In memory of Heather Heyer, that's what I'm going to work on, and you should too.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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