In journalism, the language counts | media


Much of the liberal Western press, consciously or unconsciously, helps spread the gospel of white supremacy.

“China: Big Lender or Loan Shark?”

Under this title the BBC chose the report of its correspondent Celia Hatton on a newly published assessment of the Chinese lending habits. “China is giving at least twice as much development money as the US and other major powers, as new evidence shows, and most of it in the form of risky high-interest loans from Chinese state banks,” it said, adding: “Critics fear that the high-interest loans, which are used to fund many Chinese projects pushing unsuspecting populations into sky-high debt ”.

Let’s stop there for a minute and think about the terms that are used to describe the activity. Chinese grants and loans are grouped together as “development money” that is loaned out. Helpfully, however, the BBC informs us that “not long ago China received foreign aid”. Nowhere in Celia Hatton’s report is Chinese “development money” referred to as “aid”. What is the difference?

Another BBC report from four years ago can help. In it, Ms. Hatton, who reports on the uncovering of “China’s secret aid empire”, writes that Chinese money does not qualify for the “traditional definition of aid that all western industrialized countries agree on” because western loans “are mainly awarded” . Aim of developing the economic development and prosperity of the recipient countries ”. Apparently, she says, a whopping 93 percent of US financial aid fits into that bill, but only a fifth of what China gives.

It’s an amazing claim. If in fact the vast majority of US donations went to those who received them, there should be plenty of evidence to support this. However, a 1997 study by the Congressional Budget Office found that foreign aid played a marginal role at best in promoting economic development and improving human well-being, and could even “hinder development, depending on the context in which it is located Help is used and under what conditions “it is given”.

In fact, Western “development aid” itself is very much like “loan sharing”. According to a 2005 New York Times report, “Sub-Saharan Africa received a total of $ 294 billion in loans between 1970 and 2002. In the same period they paid back $ 268 billion and, after interest, accumulated a mountain of debt of $ 210 billion ”.

My aim here is not just to show that Chinese exploitation is hardly different from that practiced in the West. Rather, it is about showing how often Western media use language to portray Western society as somehow better, more benevolent, more moral and more responsible than other societies.

A couple of other examples illustrate this. BBC’s Laura Bicker reports that “analysts” are “concerned” about North Korea’s hypersonic missile development and testing, but not about the US doing the same, despite its extensive track record of attacks and destabilization of other nations around the world. The BBC presenters are appalled by Kim Jong Un’s ability to build missiles despite economic sanctions, and see this as evidence that the North Korean leader is not caring for his starving people.

Yet they have little to say about the fact that Joe Biden maintains and continues to develop the world’s largest arsenal, despite the fact that more than 11 million US children live in households without enough to eat, many Americans lack adequate healthcare, and US infrastructure is collapsing.

Similarly, reports of officials who abuse their positions for personal gain are reported differently when they occur in the West. If a Wall Street Journal investigation reveals that “130 federal judges have violated US law and legal ethics by overseeing legal proceedings involving companies in which they or their family stocks are involved,” then widespread corruption is not the preferred phrase . US Senators who sell their votes to lobbyists are “indebted to the donors” and not guilty of bribery.

And of course, US elections can be rigged and voters suppressed, but they are never rigged or stolen. Any suggestion that the electoral system may not reflect what voters want is immediately dismissed and dismissed as part of the “big lie” of former President Donald Trump, who falsely insists he won the recent presidential election.

The fact is, however, that the US electoral system is systematically and deliberately manipulated and it is often not the voters who decide who comes to power, but rather cartographers who work to undermine the votes. This is theft.

Language matters. Words are important. And they show that it’s not just ogres like Trump who are spreading the gospel of white supremacy. Much of the liberal Western press is heavily invested in the project by characterizing news events depending on where in the world they happen and who they happen to. Unconscious or not, it has to be called out for what it is.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own views and do not necessarily reflect the editorial stance of Al Jazeera.


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