In journalism, language matters | Media



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

“China: big spender or usurer? “

This is the title the BBC chose for correspondent Celia Hatton’s report on a recently released assessment of Chinese credit habits. “China distributes at least twice as much development money as the United States and other great powers, new evidence shows, most in the form of risky high-interest loans from Chinese state banks.” , he continues, adding that “critics fear that the high-interest loans that finance many Chinese projects will put unsuspecting populations in a staggering debt.”

Let’s stop there for a minute and think about the terms used to describe the activity. Chinese grants and loans are grouped together as “development money” which is lent. Yet, usefully, the BBC tells us that “not so long ago China received foreign aid.” Nowhere in Celia Hatton’s report is Chinese “development money” described as “aid”. What is the difference?

Another BBC report from four years ago may help. In it, Hatton, reporting on the discovery of “China’s secret aid empire,” writes that Chinese money does not meet “the traditional definition of aid which is agreed upon by all countries. Western industrialized ”because Western loans“ are granted with the main objective of developing the economic development and the well-being of the recipient countries ”. Apparently, she said, while 93% of US “financial aid” is for this bill, only a fifth of what China is giving.

It is an astonishing statement. If indeed the vast majority of American donations have benefited those who receive them, there should be ample evidence of this. Yet a 1997 study by the Congressional Budget Office found that foreign aid played, at best, a marginal role in promoting economic development and improving human well-being and could even “hinder development depending on the situation. the environment in which this aid is used and the conditions under which it is given ”.

In fact, the truth is that Western “development aid” is itself the equivalent of a usurious loan. According to a 2005 New York Times report, “between 1970 and 2002, countries south of the Sahara received a total of $ 294 billion in loans. In the same period, they repaid $ 268 billion and accumulated, after interest, a mountain of debt amounting to $ 210 billion ”.

My aim here is not simply to demonstrate that Chinese exploitation is little different from that practiced by the West. Rather, it is about showing how often the Western media deploy language designed to portray Western society as somehow better, more beneficent, more moral and more responsible than other societies.

A few other examples illustrate this. Laura Bicker of the BBC reports that “analysts” are “worried” about North Korea’s development and testing of hypersonic missiles, but not that the United States is doing the same, despite the latter’s long track record in defense. ‘attacks and destabilization of other nations around the world. BBC presenters are horrified by Kim Jong Un’s ability to build missiles despite economic sanctions, taking it as proof that the North Korean leader doesn’t care about his starving people.

Yet they have little to say about Joe Biden who maintains and continues to develop the world’s largest arsenal despite more than 11 million American children living in households without enough to eat, many Americans without adequate health care, and the collapse of American infrastructure.

Likewise, reports of public officials abusing their positions for personal gain are reported differently if they occur in the West. When a Wall Street Journal investigation found that “130 federal judges violated US law and judicial ethics by overseeing court cases involving companies in which they or their families owned shares,” widespread corruption did not is not the preferred expression. US Senators who sell their votes to lobbyists are “beholden to donors” and not guilty of succumbing to corruption.

And of course, America’s elections can be manipulated and voters suppressed, but they are never rigged or stolen. Any suggestion that the electoral system does not actually reflect voters’ wishes is immediately mistaken for and dismissed as part of the ‘big lie’ perpetrated by former President Donald Trump, who falsely insists he won the recent presidential elections.

Yet the point is that the electoral system in the United States is systematically and deliberately rigged and who ends up in power is often not decided by the voters, but by the cartographers who work to reverse the vote. This is theft.

Language matters. Words matter. 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 deeply invested in the project through its characterization of current events in terms of where in the world they occur and to whom they happen. Unconscious or not, you have to call it for what it is.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Al Jazeera.


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