Broadcast laws across most countries are clear that you can’t air racist content Image Credit: Gulf News

As the Russia-Ukraine war rages on, downright racist reactions of journalists working for international networks have been jarring. Border guards stopping the refugees and plainly discriminating between refugees showed just how exactly racism flourishes under a garb of political correctness.

People of colour, including Indians and Arabs were held back and told in clear discriminatory tones that they would not be allowed to cross the border. While all of us who travel and work as journalists have al-ways known about the existence of ugly racism, the virulent form it took on the Ukrainian borders shocked.

In case you, dear reader, think I am nitpicking in a global crisis, let me share with you some of the reactions of my colleagues in global media. The Ukraine’s Deputy Chief Prosecutor, David Sakvarelidze in Kiev talking to the BBC studio said, “it’s very emotional for me because I see European people with blue eyes and blonde hair being killed”. Of note is the fact that the studio anchor didn’t add nuance or balance to the frankly racist comment but, nodded along sympathetically.

Going down the racist road

The BBC is funded by a tax that applies to all the people living in the United Kingdom and plenty of those are born in the UK are brown, black and others. The BBC going down the racist road despite, being seen as a broadcaster of record, sanity and balance was upsetting to say the least.

“This isn’t Iraq or Afghanistan. This is a relatively civilised relatively European city,” noted CBS correspondent Charlie D Aagata. Identical to the BBC, the CBS studio did not find the need to call him out on literally errant black and white racism.

Consider what a journalist at Al Jazeera came up with: “what’s compelling is looking at them the way they are dressed. These are prosperous middle class people. These are not obviously refugees trying to get away from the Middle East or North Africa. They look like the European family you would live next door to.”

BM Television France goes one worse: “We are in the 21st century; we are in a European city and we have cruise missile fire as though we are in Afghanistan or Iraq. Can you imagine!” Yes actually we can! Afghanistan and Iraq were invaded by western countries. Irresponsibly in Iraq, using the fake bogey of chemical and nuclear weapons, US led the assault. It is unbelievable that the Western European media will simply blame the victim here.

People who have Instagram and Netflix

I know this has not been an easy read, so second last one I promise exhibit five, The Daily Telegraph: “This time the war is wrong because the people look like us and have Instagram and Netflix accounts. It’s not in a poor remote country anymore,” wrote Daniel Hannan. Two things: war can never be right and I still don’t understand this tone deaf us versus them writing. Was Hannan trying sarcasm? Even then, it’s an epic fail.

The last one. ITV, UK: “The unthinkable has happened. This is not a developing Third World nation. This is Europe”.

Indeed it is and the racism on offer is loud and proud. I lived and worked in London for some years and while it was not so loud and tone deaf, an undertone of racism always existed.

But, wasn’t this supposed to be a new world, where we were all global citizens and all countries mattered equally? Clearly not. What the global media seemed to be saying from Ukraine was that if you weren’t blonde and blue eyed, it was OK that your countries be attacked and for non-Europeans to be reduced to refugees. The white man’s civilising burden couldn’t include white European racism.

This is banal everyday racism akin to the banality of evil. How does global media think it is OK to air such awful racist content and for the studio talking heads and anchors not even call it out.

Broadcast laws across most countries are clear that you can’t air racist content. But, I feel ashamed at some of the content the so called mainstream media airs in India against minorities. I now feel equal shame at the global media.