Prof: America creates own media bias
Media in the United States has potentially blurred "how we understand the world" and conflict in the Middle East, Robert Jensen, a University of Texas journalism professor, said Wednesday.
Americans have viewed international crises, such as the Palestinian and Israeli conflict, through American narratives as a "cycle of violence," he said.
"It absolves us of having to ask ‘Why is the United States the biggest impediment to peace in the Middle East at this moment?’" Jensen said.
Americans tend to seek this narrative – the cycle of violence – to absolve itself of any responsibility in the Middle East, he said. When Americans cannot comprehend the nature and nuances behind political turmoil, they lean toward the Israeli struggle and hide behind "the ancient hatreds narrative" instead of seeking the truth, Jensen said.
Jensen said that American media outlets look to other "narratives" to define conflict in the Middle East.
The first narrative that the Americans told was the story of Jewish struggle and how they were subjected to "an act of human depravity that almost defies imagination," Jensen said.
"You have the remnants of that European Jewish population that comes to its historic homeland surrounded by enemies, now Arab instead of German – struggling for nothing more than the right to live at peace in a world that has almost destroyed it, surrounded by these enemies it stands up," he said. "It finds within itself the will to resist and is victorious over Arab armies that want to destroy it (and) push it into the sea."
The next narrative was the Palestinians struggle against the Ottoman Empire’s oppression and rule, he said.
"With the collaboration of the world’s greatest powers, Israel was able to force out, in an act of ethnic cleansing in 1948, something like three quarters of a million Palestinians," Jensen said. "The rest remained second-class citizens and we live with remnants of that today."
Jensen went on to say that these narratives – that both the media and Americans have created – lack a sense of truth.
"I don’t think this story of American exceptionalism is a good narrative because I think it obscures certain realities," Jensen said. "The reality that the United States was formed on probably the most successful genocidal campaign in recorded human history – the elimination of the indigenous population."
Jensen said Americans who are interested in advancing peace and justice must realize they have responsibility to do something.
"My primary moral responsibility, as a citizen of the United States, is to affect the policy of my government, especially when my government is engaged in actions that I think violate fundamental moral principles," he said.
He said that although any narrative will not be completely true or false, it is imperative for the American public to work with the media to strive for a greater truth.
"I have to understand how ‘we’ see ourselves – that is how the American public sees itself, how the journalists who write about that public see themselves and try to engage not at that level of arguing about facts, but to argue about the big picture as well," he said.