Volume 96, Issue 94
Thursday, March 27, 2003

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Dodging fate as a lapdog to hegemony

Take it down a notch
Shannon Proudfoot
Opinions Editor

Last Wednesday, the night a war began, brought with it perhaps the sharpest paradox of my young life.

It was not a juggernaut of a country waging war, insisting it was the only way to peace and security. It was not even the sad irony of war blooming in an age that was supposed to be the century of peace.

No, the paradox that confronted me was the conflict between what I want to do with my life and my utter disgust with those who precede me.

I sat at my desk obsessively checking The New York Times Web site for updates and watching CBC, waiting with sinking dread for something, anything, to happen.

Amidst this media saturation, I earnestly wrote my application for admission to the School of Journalism at Ryerson University.

I told them of my curiosity about the world and how I wanted to have a hand in producing the information and ideas disseminated to the public. I told them I loved to write, and how I loved the power of expression in the written word. I told them why I wanted to be a journalist. And then I began to wonder if I really did.

I listened to the numbing redundancy with which the broadcasters recounted every movement made by troops and politicians. I witnessed the slavering enthusiasm with which these people were actually enthused about the start of war, and I felt ill. Beyond the sheer repetitiveness of the coverage, there was the blatant prejudice.

That toothless, warmongering baboon that is the President of the United States is painted as the ever-wise, vigilant patriarch reluctantly going to war to protect a nation.

Meanwhile, the media employs a thinly veiled barrage of racist ideologies to critique every facet of Saddam Hussein, from his religious convictions to his speech-making abilities.

Every element of mainstream media coverage has become saturated with racial, religious and nationalistic implications. Reports on the tragic act of fratricide that took place at Camp Pennsylvania in Kuwait on Sunday morning took care to allude repeatedly to the fact the suspect of the attack was a Muslim convert.

At what point did it become necessary – or even acceptable – to mention the race or religious faith of a crime suspect? This is merely a symptom of the omnipresent campaign of fear and selective truth currently being waged by governments attempting to justify their questionable actions.

The most confounding part for me is that the media has become the willing messenger of this propagandistic rhetoric, instead of the much-heralded dissident voice of the people that we are told we should be. I have to ask myself if I want to add my words to the fray someday. I have to decide whether there's any way I can be a successful journalist and avoid the fate of being a lapdog to hegemonic systems of power.

My answer, at this idealistic stage in my life: I bloody well hope so. I hope I will find a good job and a printed voice for my thoughts someday. And I hope that when I arrive at that day, my voice is still idealistic and truth-seeking and fiercely angry about injustice. If I can do that, then I will feel like I am rebutting the skewed perversion of what the press could be instead of selling my soul to be a part of it.

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