Sunday, October 23, 2011

Occupy Protest: West's Double Standards

Occupy Protest: West's Double Standards

Lloyd Gumbo and Tendai Manzvanzvike
Zimbabwe Herald
October 24, 2011

Mainstream media in the United States and Europe has come under fire for its double standards and for promoting capitalism by failing to give extensive and objective coverage of the on-going "Occupy Wall Street" protests.

The protests which are in their fifth week have spread to more than 950 cities in 82 countries, mostly in Western nations. It is a protest against corporate greed, which resulted in the 2008 economic slump. This has resulted in massive job losses and poverty levels rising in developed nations.

The protests began in the US on September 17 with few protesters in the financial district of New York City, but have spread as far as the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Greece, Switzerland, Australia and New Zealand.

Experts who spoke to The Herald said the mainstream media in the US were benefiting from capitalism hence the silence on protests castigating the system.

A media analyst Mr Tichaona Zinumwe said the global media was part of the capitalist machinery bent on propagating the dominant ideology of capitalism.

"Wall Street is the nerve centre of global capitalism and the global media knows that if Wall Street sneezes, global capitalism will catch the cold. Publicising events ruffling Wall Street will disturb global capitalism. All global media knows that such events are not something that can be supported because it would put capitalism in bad light. It is clear that mainstream media in the US are owned by conglomerates that are aligned to capitalism," Mr Zinumwe said.

He said it was inevitable that when the American media finally gives coverage to the protests, they would accuse African-Americans of being behind the protests.

A media lecturer at the Midlands State
University who spoke on condition of anonymity attributed the media blackout to the prevailing political economy.

"The issue about media blackout over the Wall Street protests is all about ownership and funding. Global media is part and parcel of the capitalist system because they survive on revenue generated from advertisements flighted by these capitalists.

"It becomes unthinkable that the mainstream media can expose capitalism because they are faithful dogs which can't bark if Wall Street is under threat. They know that the collapse of Wall Street will lead to the collapse of capitalism, something they have been flourishing from," he said.

He also castigated the US media's double standards, saying they had gone to town when there were protests in Zimbabwe, Tunisia, Syria and Egypt but are now ignoring the Occupy Wall Street protests.

The reportage on the former Libyan leader's murder last week has masked these protests, the continued arrests and police's high-handedness.

A lecturer in the department of Political Science at the University of Zimbabwe, Dr Charity Manyeruke said the protests in the US were a wake up call for other governments to close the gap between the rich and the poor.

"In the US, there has been a lot of privatisation and commercialisation, but they have been doing those things at the expense of locals who have not been empowered. The indigenisation and empowerment policy here is one such step which seeks to empower the locals as long as it is done properly. These protests are a lesson for Africa to revisit some of the contracts signed with foreigners," she said.

Dr Manyeruke said it has always been an American culture of not giving popularity to internal problems, but rush to cover problems in other countries.

She said despite the existence of liberalisation in the United States, there was need for the State to regulate and control situations for human development.

According to the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism report, news related to the protests accounted for only seven percent of total news coverage since October.

The protests are now in their fourth week and the protestors are using social media platforms to mobilise globally.

Meanwhile, St Paul's Cathedral in London has been closed to the public because the Occupy London Stock Exchange protesters have vowed to stay there until Christmas.

In Sydney, Australia, riot police yesterday broke up week-long protests with demonstrators claiming they were forcibly evicted from their city campsite in violent dawn raids.

"Occupy" protesters claim that they are inspired by the Egyptian Tahrir Square uprisings and the Spanish protests.

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