United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently designated the persecution of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar an “ethnic cleansing,” as 620,000 have been forced to flee the region amid allegations of the widespread rape of Rohingya women and murder by military personnel.
If you read the headlines of most American media outlets today, you’ll find groping allegations, President Donald Trump tweets and an unsettling story about North Korea’s nuclear capabilities.
I understand why these issues pervade our media and some remain relatively unmentioned. If the issue can affect us domestically, those are the stories that will get read. This makes sense pragmatically, but I do lament the missed potential for the interconnected media world we live in.
UW professors discuss whether persecution of Rohingya population in Myanmar can be considered genocideUniversity of Wisconsin professors hosted a seminar Tuesday to discuss the persecution of a Muslim minority group in Myanmar. The Read…
In a perfect system, the connected world would produce empathy among all of its inhabitants. There could be a ‘oneness’ effect, where our constant communication would reach beyond our arbitrary borders and unite cultures over funny cat videos and Reddit threads. To a certain extent, it has happened culturally, but the general apathy people still have for those that don’t speak the same language is unhindered.
Human rights issues, whether it be in Myanmar, Syria or Venezuela deserve the attention of the American people.
I, and I’m sure many others, often wonder what role language and race plays in the relevancy some events are assigned in our media climate. This is said as someone who believes that identity politics generally forces race and ethnicity into issues that don’t necessarily have cause for them. Yet, if the Rohingya Muslims were white, English-speaking Christians, I find it hard to believe they wouldn’t be the top news story every day. Maybe it’s human nature, “othering” or racism, but the less people have in common with most Americans, the less their lives seem to be worth worrying about
It is idealist to believe the U.S. should be as concerned with international affairs as domestic, it doesn’t happen in other countries and it won’t happen here. The focus of the media, however, has a huge sway on the government’s actions. When Walter Cronkite came out against the war in Vietnam, many believe that turned the tide of the conflict completely. These days we don’t have a voice in the media anywhere close to Cronkite’s, but even in our multifaceted media system, deafening outcry over human rights violations can still make waves in the world.
It’s tough to be a bastion of freedom and prosperity if we aren’t interested in the violation of our principles overseas unless it occurs near an oil field.
Will Stern ([email protected]) is a sophomore majoring in journalism.