I have to admit; the title of the piece is brilliant. It’s catchy, engaging, and it speaks the truth. As for the piece itself, it has some problems.
“13 Dead But At Least We Have Politics” highlights how the true impact of the floods in Louisiana is masked by the mainstream media’s coverage of the 2016 presidential election. In particular, the piece criticizes Fox News showing Donald Trump helping with flood relief while President Obama is shown playing golf while on vacation with his family.
The author of the piece is 100 percent correct on her observations of the media. I keep up with current events as much as possible and I definitely believe there could be much more coverage on the floodings. The devastation is horrible, families are displaced, and people are dead. Of course the media has to turn a national tragedy into a tool to present a presidential candidate, or current president, in a negative light.
Unfortunately, this tactic of Fox News is nothing new. The use of the Louisiana floodings is just the newest example. The network has been after Obama ever since he announced his candidacy almost ten years ago. Ever since, the network has used misleading imagery and rhetoric to present Obama as an evil monster of a president. Unfortunately for the president, anyone who solely watches Fox News as their only media source, which happens to be nearly half of its viewers, is convinced that Obama is a terrorist.
Allow me to get back on track. Despite the excellent observation of Fox News and their misleading coverage, this author preaches the importance of being an informed citizen but fails to recognize that there is a world outside of the United States. She stays very nationalistic throughout the piece by highlighting that something terrible has happened “to one of our fellow states.”
Yes, the crisis in Louisiana is tragic, but what about the almost daily bombings, shootings, and attacks that happen in other parts of the world where dozens of innocent people are killed each day? The media has a problem covering these events extensively as well, but they are still covered in one way or another. The problem is that Americans are not interested in what is happening in the Middle East. When Americans do not care, the networks and newspapers do not focus on it. There seems to be this belief that as long as it is not happening here, life goes on.
In order for any attack outside of the United States to be important to the citizens, it has to happen in a city that looks like cities in America. There seems to be this focus on westernized countries over others. Look at the attacks in Paris and Brussels. Americans could relate to and be empathetic towards these attacks because Paris and Brussels are cities that remind us of our cities. Queue the changed profile pictures on Facebook.
Then a series of suicide bombings kill hundreds of people in Iraq, Syria, and other parts of the Middle East just days later. Did we see profile pictures change again? Nope. These places look nothing like the United States and therefore the vast majority of Americans are unable to empathize. There is an inability to look beyond our own borders and recognize the horrors in other parts of the world.
The author highlights a serious problem in our news media, but fails to recognize where the real problem lies. Instead, she focuses on Louisiana and encourages her readers to “keep America great” by supporting Louisiana.
“This is why America is great and has always been great. Because we back up our own, we help each other and build each other up.”
Here is my problem with that statement: if we really back up our own, explain the large margin of income equality in the country or the high levels of homeless civilians and veterans. Explain the racist rhetoric of the Trump campaign that a scary number of Americans have embraced with open arms. Explain the constantly questionable actions by police officers towards the African American community. Just explain the hate. We try to back up our own, but we have trouble doing it consistently.
In my opinion, what truly makes a country great is one that recognizes everyone’s differences but embraces everyone equally. A great country also strives to break out of the “us versus them” mentality that this article presents and reaches out to help anyone who needs it, no matter what part of the world they live in. Saying that the country is great does not make it great. At all.
Before my own readers crucify me and tell me to leave the country, I do believe that America can be great one day. When we stand up for what is right, fight for true equality, and learn how to love our neighbors and everyone else outside our borders, then we can truly be great. For now, it is okay to recognize faults and shortcomings. How is our country supposed to grow unless we are absolutely honest with ourselves?
Another part of the article bothers me. At the end, the author says that the “media is playing us; making us focus on what isn’t important. Trying to distract us.” This is correct in some ways, but also seems misleading. In this specific example, the Louisiana flood is the most pressing issue, not what the presidential candidates are doing. However, the language in the article seems to attack politics coverage in general.
I do not want her readers to believe that coverage of the election is unimportant. It is extremely important to recognize who the candidates are, the policies they support, and who their running mates are. In order to be responsible, informed citizens we need to follow the election. We need to understand each candidate’s platform. Also, understand what the media is not covering: the platforms of third party candidates. Gary Johnson and Jill Stein are still invisible to mainstream media networks, yet they are both great choices.
The article had some great intentions, but as Americans we need to stop selfishly focusing on ourselves. We are a strong country full of strong people with strong hearts, but for what good is any of it if we refuse to support those lesser than us? We should hold the media responsible for lack of coverage of important events and overlooked candidates, but do not forget about the rest of the world out there. Louisiana is important, but so are the children getting blown up every day in the Middle East.