The children slaughtered by US-backed rebels in Syria never seem to make it to the front page of The New York Times or reach the round table at Morning Joe. A double standard exists. If a horrendous video or photo can’t be used against the Syrian government, then it is of no value to the mainstream American media. Videos of a dazed and blank-faced young boy identified as five-year-old Omran Daqneesh have surfaced through “opposition” channels in Aleppo and broken through election and Olympic coverage to reach American journalists. I first saw it on MSNBC’S Morning Joe, then everywhere. All at once. the image was coupled with the faux outrage and anguish we’ve become so used to when a story concerns the poor conditions of Syrian people living under rebel occupation. Coverage of Syria is never sustained, and never balanced with the stories of Syrians suffering in West Aleppo or any government controlled territory.
Coverage rises and falls with the geopolitical currents. A few weeks ago a young Palestinian boy, no more than twelve, was beheaded by rebels formerly backed by the United States with lethal aid. Where was the outrage then? Who in the media cried for the boy and his family, and demanded America cease its involvement on behalf of terrorists and “moderate rebels” in Syria? Why is the political and military support given to rebels, the weapons that help to sustain the war, never part of the coverage? Omran Dagneesh is part of a lost generation; a generation that has grown up knowing only war and civil strife. He is not special. He is not unique. His story is numberless, and the tragedy is daily, on both sides. He lives in a city where life must go on amid a proxy war for what was Syria’s largest city before the war began, Aleppo.
It is a disgrace, that after showing viewers a snapshot of the brutality of Syria’s war through the face of a young boy, a round table of analysts and political commentators can then move on to discuss strategies for overthrowing the Syrian government. The emotional reaction to the photo has not yet abated before the audience is aroused by so-called “experts” who seek to undermine the Syria’s legitimate government by taking advantage of the emotional pull graphic images create. There is a government in Syria, but it is not what the “experts” claim it to be. It is a government fighting for the survival of a way of life; fighting a war on multiple fronts against enemies that have come from every corner of the world; a government fighting to maintain independence and protect its people from foreign fighters, foreign money, and foreign arms being imported into their country.
The past few days there has been a blitz of coverage of Syria in the American media, all aimed at undermining the Syrian government, and calling on the American government to do more to overthrow the former, even at the expense of fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS). Why now? What is it about this moment that the media has decided to raise the conversation about Syria once again?
The past few years saw the media in retreat, as journalists embedded with rebels were held as hostages, US-backed rebels were eating the hearts of men, Al Qaeda was growing in Idleb while American-backed forces cooperated with them. ISIS was rising, gathering recruits from around the world and promising Syrian’s willing to sacrifice their life money for their families when they are gone. The war became too messy to cover; the good rebels vs. the bad Assad narrative that persisted far past its expiration date was untenable and collapsed. With it, much of the coverage. Watch Bashar al-Assads latest interview with NBC.
Now, a video has surfaced. Not a video unlike others that have surfaced, where brutality is graphically depicted. But right now, this video is important to the US media. Right now, the struggle for Aleppo is intensifying, Al Qaeda has “re-branded” itself as “Not Al Qaeda”, and the rebels are desperately trying to find momentum in Aleppo. Russia, Iran, and China are rightfully aiding the legitimate government of Syria, and the U.S., in all its wisdom, thinks that whatever side Russia is backing, it must back the opposite. Even if that side is brutal, Islamist, and prone to terrorism against civilians, including indiscriminate barrages of rockets falling on civilian populations in West Aleppo, killing other young boys in Syria. Boys just like Omran. The Syrian people deserve peace, but are plagued by hypocrisy.
We are living in an era where the information available to us is endless. Videos, images, personal stories from the war zone are available constantly and at the push of a button. Yet we are supposed to believe that what happens in Syria is only important when the media decides to cover it. That what they choose to print and run on Cable is more important than the stories of Syrians themselves. That their analysis of Syria, and prescription for its end, namely the overthrow of the Assad government (because just look what it did to this young boy), is the only legitimate solution.
Here are some photos of the victims that will never reach the cover of the New York Times.
There is an alternative. The voices of men, women, and children do no need to be filtered through conglomerate media channels that have their own agenda. These channels do not seek to expose what’s occurring in Syria truthfully, only to create a narrative, a perception for their audience to feel emotionally wrenched by. When the American people are then sufficiently emotional, the media and its so-called experts turn to prescriptions. These prescriptions prolong the war, destabilize Syria further, and allow terrorists to continue in their quest for an Islamic State in Syria where Sharia Law is practiced, and the Syrians lose their independence, secularism, and freedoms. It is okay to feel wrenching pain for Omran Dagneesh, but do not believe for one moment the U.S. government and its allies in the mainstream media are looking out for the safety, security, and well-being of Syrians. They only care for their own self-interested ends, and that includes prolonging Syria’s war, not ending it.