Media monopoly: blackout vs spotlight

The activists in Australia have noticed frequent streaming of propaganda by the mass media. In previous posting, how the mass media has been controlled by the "Establishment" and created a "blackout" re: the death of refugee Faysal Ahmed in Manus Island [#1]. We can now have a look at how the media "spotlight" may be created by the Establishment. Remember, such mass media spotlight has been utilized to spread certain propaganda, which is to serve specific government's agenda. We can have a look at one of recent media incident as a specific example.

Whistleblowers, Activists and Citizens Alliance
The Australian political culture of scapegoating

Creation of Terror Bogeyman

Just before Faysal's death on Xmas Eve, there was a reported terrorist attack in Germany. A Tunisian asylum-seeker had reportedly ploughed a truck into the market place in Berlin, killing 9 persons [#2]. Remember, the involvement of that man in attack, the mean & motives have been still much in speculation. To be noted also, because the media nowaday is globalised so that you can find any where & any time, such instance of violent and terror involving muslim, refugees or migrants. It is as a matter of picking up a news incident that suits for the propaganda purpose. With the Berlin attack, a "Terror Bogeyman" was to be created [#6].

How would an ordinary Australian receive such "Terror Bogeyman" propaganda. I live in Sydney and working full-time. Coming home, my preferred channel is the ABC News 24. Within that certain windows of myself switching on news, I've seen that Berlin terror attack featured prominently -- i.e. more frequency with broader coverage. By taking into account of other commercial channels, including radio shock-jocks' stations, we'll have some idea of public exposure for media spotlighting of that Berlin incident. Remember, most Australians do not have proper time to sit-down and think about any news that come through channels. The public will only receive the news items as the flickering of certain images and some distracted voices.

Then, in terms of propaganda, what would be the effects for repetitive news castings of Berlin terror incident (i.e. news spotlighting) ? That's simple: "Muslim", "Terror","Refugees" & "Asylum-seekers", these items have been lumped in together into the mind of public. The thing about propaganda is that it doesn't have to be the "truth". Nowadays with the globalized media, it doesn't have to be "local". Or in extreme cases, a propaganda can even be fictitious episodes, such as "Border Security etc". To this effect, we can check with the Nazi pre-Wartime information minister, Joseph Goebbels [#7].

Joseph Goebbels said, the propaganda news items must be:

Selectively biased: News items had to be selective. Glebbels notes, "Not every item of news should be published. Rather must those who control news policies endeavor to make every item of news serve a certain purpose."

Repeated: Propaganda/news items need to be repeated. He said, "A lie told once remains a lie, but told thousand times becomes the truth." "... propagandist technique .... one fundamental principle is ..... it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over."

Crude and Simple: Propaganda items must be simple. Goebbels said, "... arguments must be crude, clear and forcible, and appeal to emotions and instincts.."

Once, such "Terror Bogeyman" has been constructed out of "Muslims, Asylum-seekers & Refugees" and being planted in public minds, what comes next is quite predictable. Lets check this again with Goebbels:

"The Propaganda must facilitate displacement of aggression by specifying the targets for hatred."

Targets for hatred, of course, is the scapegoat. Isn't that too much of a coincidence don't you think ? On the 23rd of December Christmas Eve, just over a week after Berlin news spotlighting, the AFP and effervescent ASIOs have made a high-profile raid on so-called "terror suspects" in Melbourne [#8]. I just leave you the readers for an answer.

The Politics of Scapegoating

An interesting theory of scapegoating: A target scapegoat has been "chosen" because "it is easy to victimise without fear of retaliation" [#3]. The real purpose of scapegoating, theorists argue:

"To polarise the community’s aggressive impulses and redirect them toward victims that may be actual or figurative, animate or inanimate, but that are always incapable of propagating further violence."

The targeted scapegoat victims, therefore, must be the weak and marginalised so as to ensure no consequent retaliation would come up against the "Establishment" and broader society. Under current LNP government, there have been numerous examples of the most marginalized are being chosen for scapegoats: refugees and asylum-seekers, (muslim) migrant community, the unemployed, the aged and, indeed, the indigenous people.

Given the history of LNP scapegoating, these men under question probably are to have been detained on flimsy charges, and are most likely being the harmless [#4].

Having launched the media propaganda and constructed a division in the public, the ideal outcome for such scapegoating exercise, of course, is for the government to come out as protector of the public, the peacemaker and arbitrator. A final outcome of that propaganda exercise is for all of us to see here [#5].

Support for the Victims of Scapegoating

The social impact of media and government scapegoating on minority groups can be varied. However, the impact of scapegoating can be severe on individuals and their families. Within a democratic society, the government must be given room to propagate its propaganda and the freedom of speech must be granted to the mass media. But, as the concerned general public, are we just to sit and do nothing when the "Establishment" is spreading rogue propagandas ? As a community, how do we counterbalance such media and government scapegoating ? Are there ways to help those scapegoat victims ? Do keep pondering. -- Solidarity. U Ne Oo, Sydney.


[#1] Media monopoly and conspiracy of silence.