Education or Propganda: Bus Ads
Buses are increasingly becoming a target of propaganda group ads. Can we please fund our metropolitan buses a bit more so that they do not have to take ads from such groups?
On one hand, if channels for relaying factual information to the masses were still open in the modern world, groups would not have to resort to buying advertisement to get the reality out. On the other hand, propaganda groups can produce ads whose political implications are not quite understood by the gentle folk at our neighbourhood bus companies.
Now let us see what happened in Seattle, Washington State, US, this week:
A group bought ads on ‘Metro’ buses in Seattle, to be shown on the anniversary of the universally condemned attack by Israel on Gaza in 2008. The title was ‘Israeli War Crimes’ — and such ads were entirely in line with the Metro policy — then!. A pro-Israeli group bought ads for ‘Palestinian War Crimes’, and the Seattle Metro promptly changed its policy to disallow both.
No less an authority than former US President Jimmy Carter said: “Because of Powerful political, economic, and religious forces in the US, Israeli government decisions are RARELY questioned or condemned,” and “voices from Jerusalem dominate in our media.” The historic study by Mearsheimer and Walt that QeRN highlighted in 2007 also established the same thing in a scientific manner.
Even-handed or promoting the bias?
Superficially, it appears that Seattle Metro was being even-handed, but the truth about documented and UN-acknowledged Israeli atrocities was buried even deeper. Are there always two sides to a story, both equal and factual? This is the fallacy that is promoting the current wave of Islamophobia in the media, but it is a very old logical fallacy. When a biased news outlet is forced to present a true report, it does so with strange facial mannerisms or choice of language that suggest that it is being forced to do so, and then devote equal or more time to ‘the other side’ in order to appear impartial.
Sadly, they have not done their duty — and democracies cannot survive long with a commercial, but not dutiful, media.
Ahmadiyya Bus Campaign
We reported on a similar bus campaign by the Ahmadiyya (Qadiani) organisation in the US and the UK. Although it advertised ‘peace and loyalty’, it actually blamed mainstream Muslim residents of the US and UK as violent and disloyal. This technique was very similar to the pro-Israeli group in Seattle that wanted to talk about ‘Palestinian War Crimes’. With the oppression against them, lack of military support, and grinding poverty, Palestinians cannot even be remotely connected with perpetrating war crimes, and such a thing does not exist. Similarly, with the amount of Islamophobia around, Muslims who are citizens of Western countries are not exercising their lawful rights to protest and influence government and media. In this situation of mental siege, to imply that Muslims are not loyal or peaceful is adding insult to injury, and only an Islamophobic group such as the Qadiani Ahmadiyya could have done that.
There is nothing even-handed about the truth, and to pretend to do so is in effect appeasing hate mongers.