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The screams of outrage
London has what is regarded as a vibrant newspaper scene. At its best, a bastion of democracy and accountability for this nation's leaders. At its worst, a fragmentation along politico-philosophical lines all chasing stories to exaggerate to play to their readers' prejudices so that they can sell ads for more and make more money for their wealthy owners.
So what to make of a story where a 12 year-old girl is beaten unconscious and robbed on a public bus, in what the police described as a racially aggravated robbery? A story where the bus driver didn't stop and the other passengers ignored the screams? The tabloids should be up in arms over it. It may even get to front page news in a couple of the more reputable newspapers, you'd think. Even if they ignored the matter of race, surely the matter of ignoring a girl's screams as she is beaten by a gang would be worth an editorial. Before reading further, evaluate this paragraph and see if you agree with my assessment on what is an appropriate press coverage.
The story can be found here. According to someone far more thorough than I am, the above link to the story is the only one found in the British press. Not a single National paper saw it as worthy of a mention. Ok, even if I have placed a far greater importance to the story than they would, surely something like that rates a mention.
What can I conclude? The problem is that a Jewish girl obviously doesn't make a news-worthy enough victim. Because the Jewish girl is obviously, clearly and unambiguously the victim, the story doesn't have legs; there is no way of taking an anti-semitic-while-pretending-not-to-be-anti-semitic stance. (For good examples of this, take a newspaper like the Independent, who covered the recent Israel-Hezbollah fighting with stories of dead Lebanese civilians and dead Israeli civilians - with the catch: the dead Israeli civilians were non-Jews, because there is no way the Independent could call a dead Jewish civilian an "innocent") There is no way of publishing this story as a Jew doing something bad, while the normally relatively non-anti-Israeli papers are generally non-anti-Israeli because they see it as a nice way of being anti-Islamic. So a story where a Jewish girl is knocked unconscious by people of unknown religion doesn't carry the "evil Muslims" story to enable them to cast it to those set of prejudices.
I talked a couple of days ago about losing hearts and minds (somewhere down the bottom). Does passing over stories like this make me feel like my community are equally valued and respected in society? Am I to feel like they are happy to marginalise me?
And meanwhile the screams of a girl being beaten and robbed on a bus were ignored. Ignored by her fellow passengers. Ignored by the driver. Ignored by the press. Never heard by the public. The subsequent screams of outrage are deafening in their silence.
My favourite procrastinations
The Head Heeb - Jonathan provides a balanced view on various Israeli and (former) colonial states in less developed regions of the world.
The Bladder - a sports satire site. Well worth a look.