How the press is exploiting the Syrian war to frame a local narrative — and sell papers

It’s only a crisis if you’re not dealing with it

There is a vicious civil war raging in Syria.

But the public media and through it the public has moved the discussion away from a war in a developed country to a discussion of red doors, wristbands, confiscation of property, values, quotas, integration failures, Islamist terror, and right wing feminism (I love that phrase!).

It has to be said:

There is an agenda to suppress discussion of the Syrian civil war.

I understand that it’s not good for selling newspapers, and the British red door story was a good headline (and indeed, the reporting was notionally pro refugee — but then came the comments, like “You give them a free house and they still complain”).

Good newspapers, including the Guardian, the Süddeutsche and the New York Times, have consciously decided to concentrate on reporting on the so-called ‘refugee crisis’ and not on the war that is creating it. People suffering a terrible war in their own country just isn’t clickbait these days.

It’s only a crisis because we’re not dealing with it.

This 13-year-old Syrian boy in Budapest last year summed up the whole situation more eloquently and succinctly than any politician ever has:

“Just stop the war, then we don’t want to go to Europe.”

So just stop the war.

I know, easier said than done.

But stop looking away. Stop thinking that it’s over. Stop thinking that this is about you and your country. It’s not, it’s about a civil war in a country not so far away that has already killed more than 200,000 people. Yes, 200,000 people. Did you know that? And the number is rising.

This isn’t about you.

It’s not about Paris. It’s not about Cologne. It’s not about Middlesbrough. It’s about Homs, Rakka, Damascus. It’s about men, women and children starving to death in a developed country in the 21st century.

It’s about tuberculosis and polio rearing their ugly heads when we’d forgotten about them.

Stop talking about quotas. This isn’t about quotas.

Stop talking about Islam. This isn’t about Islam.

Stop talking about the strain on your local services. This isn’t about them.

Stop talking about ‘the refugees’ and start talking about Ahmad, Mohammed, Aaliyah, Hafiz, Husniyah. They’re real people, with real stories, real fears, real interests, skills and ideas.

Stop deliberately using dehumanising language to describe your fellow human beings.

And don’t you dare talk about Christian values or being a Christian country, when the message of helping those in need is the most fundamental core of that religion. If that’s your belief of choice, ask yourself ‘What would Jesus do?’.

Would Jesus be bitching about suspending the Schengen agreement right now?

Don’t let the genetic fluke of your birth in a rich, stable country blur your vision.

‘Don’t judge me. You could be me, in another life, in another set of circumstances.’ — Sting

It isn’t over yet. Stop letting the press and weak politicians scared of losing their fragile power frame the narrative of one of the greatest horrors of the 21st century.

Share, talk, speak up, and keep donating to the wonderful organisations making a difference and showing how great humanity can be.


This is a slightly shortened version of my blog entry at jonathanirons.com.

Like what you read? Give Jonathan Irons a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.