Fashionable Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek, in Sydney for the Festival of Dangerous Ideas, outs himself in yesterday's Sydney Morning Herald as a complete goose:
"The cover story of Time magazine on June 5, 2006, was 'The World's Deadliest War' - a detailed documentation on how about 4 million people died in Congo as the result of political violence over the previous decade. None of the usual humanitarian uproar followed, just a couple of readers' letters - as if a filtering mechanism blocked this news from achieving its full impact. To put it cynically, Time picked the wrong victim in the struggle for hegemony in suffering: it should have stuck to the list of usual suspects: Muslim women and their plight, the oppression in Tibet. Congo today has effectively re-emerged as a Conradian 'heart of darkness' - no one dares to confront it head-on. The death of a West Bank Palestinian child, or an Israeli or an American, is worth thousands of times more to the media than the death of a nameless Congolese." (Drilling into hearts of darkness: The West's thirst for doing business allows it to remain oblivious to the violence in its economic & political systems, Slavoj Zizek, Sydney Morning Herald, 1/10/11)
I'm sorry, but WTF is the usual humanitarian uproar (hereinafter UHU)? When the ABC's Four Corners screened the harrowing BBC documentary The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka in July, there was no UHU. (See my posts A Deafening Silence (6/7/11) & ADS 2 (8/7/11)). Nor has ABC TV screened a single doco on the Killing Fields of Gaza to elicit one iota of Zizek's imagined UHU.
As if a filtering mechanism...? Zizek here seems to have no idea of - or shows no interest in - the corporate media's actual self-censorship filter that comes into play whenever the subject of Israeli colonisation and apartheid arises. And what can one say of the filtering mechanism that landed him one whole page of Saturday's Herald but denied any platform on the opinion page for Israeli-born critic of Israel Miko Peled, who was in this country mere days ago? Now there's a Dangerous Idea I can't see the Herald ever promoting for public discussion.
And what of Zizek's struggle for hegemony in suffering? What struggle? I always thought that'd been won hands down by the Holocaust Industry years ago. Is not Zizek aware of this? Apparently not, given that the usual suspects which roll off his tongue are Muslim women and Tibetans.
But it's the following sentence - The death of a West Bank Palestinian child, or an Israeli or an American, is worth thousands of times more to the media than the death of a nameless Congolese - that really gets on my goat.
Firstly, there's the placing of the 1,471* Palestinian child victims of the Middle East conflict (since 9/00) on the same level as the 125 Israeli child victims as though there's some balance of suffering at work here.
Secondly, I defy Zizek to name one murdered Palestinian West Bank child that's ever excited the corporate media's attention.
By way of testing his breezy suggestion that Palestinian AND Israeli child deaths suck up an equal (not to mention disproportionate) amount of ms media oxygen, let's check out the latest Palestinian and Israeli child deaths and see which has received the kind of media attention Zizek's alleging.
The last death of an Israeli child, according to the website Remember These Children, was that of 16-year old Daniel Viflic, killed on a school bus in southern Israel on 7 April when it was hit by an anti-tank missile fired from the Gaza Strip.
Apart from the prominence given to Daniel's death in the Israeli media and the proliferation of mentions on Zionist websites generally, news of his death not only found its way into the BBC news (Israeli boy Daniel Viflic dies after rocket hits bus, bbc.co.uk) and the New York Times (Missile from Gaza hits school bus, Isabel Kershner, 7/4/11), but even resulted in the British foreign secretary, William Hague, issuing the following statement:
"I learned with sorrow of the death today of Daniel Viflic, who had been gravely wounded in the attack by Hamas on an Israeli school bus on 7 April. Daniel was just 16. The tragedy of his death is brought home all the more in that it occurs on the eve of Passover, normally a time of celebration for Jewish families all over the world. I would like to extend my deepest sympathies to Daniel's family. And I reiterate my utter abhorrence of the cowardly attack which cost him his life, and my call for an end to all such attacks on innocent civilians."
But what of 13-year old Haitham Ahmad Mustafa Maruf of Beit Lahiya, Gaza, who died in Gaza's Shifa Hospital of wounds sustained from an IDF drone attack while working on his family farm on August 21?
[* See rememberthesechildren.org]