People say that history is boring and that is true because people are boring for they keep repeating the same boring mistakes in history and they do not learn from their mistakes.
Every time there is a meeting of the UN Security Council about Syria there is a massacre that should be committed before the UN Security Council meeting is held. Does not this point indicate clearly to whom the blame should be made to for committing these massacres?
Between 2004 and 2006, the same routine scenario was being repeated in accusing Syria of assassinating Lebanese politicians opposing Syria.Syrians at that time understood the intrigue, why some of them do not want to remember this close history and stop repeating the same boring mistakes
The BBC publishing a photo of an Iraqi massacre in 2003 and claiming it to be of the Houla Massacre in Syria in 2012 raised little surprise and condemnation in Syria. It was seen as yet another example of mis-reporting of Syria that is endemic in Western media; particularly in UK and the US.
We all pride ourselves on having a healthy cynicism of the establishment. Yet, we still find it impossible to truly disbelieve the news we hear from our own mainstream media; believing there to be at least a modicum of fact to what we are being told.
I never really understood the depth of my self-deception and to what extent we are lied to until the Syrian crisis and I was made to choose between loyalty to my homeland of the UK and to what I know to be true as I live and travel in Syria.
We all regard alternative views from our own as something of a mirror image of the truth. If we didn’t believe we are in the right, we wouldn’t believe it. Its my fourth visit here and about my tenth visit to a Muslim country. I have begun to see things from the different point of view. My once-truth is reflected back at me, exposing the blemishes of supposition and ignorance.
Beckham Fan. Damascus 2011
There are countless times I have seen stock-footage images in the Western media of Muslims wearing religious clothing and beards coming out of mosques; nothing sinister – just re-enforcing a stereotype and a belief that they are different from us. Yet it is so easy to take a random photo in the streets of Syria and you wouldn’t know if it was in Portugal, Southern Spain or Southern Italy. In reality, Syrians wear jeans, T-shirts and suits. I have lost count of the number of football shirts displaying the names of Beckham, Messi and other European footballers that I have seen in Syria.
We live in an age when any one of us could go to Facebook and chat to someone who lives in Houla or Homs or any other city in Syria or, indeed any other news-worthy part of the world. We could ask what is really going on there, undertake our own investigation and develop our own understanding of the conflict; but we don’t. Despite having unprecedented access to our fellow humans anywhere in the globe, we still prefer to use social media only to share links from newspapers and not report our own findings or a quote from our own contact there ‘on the ground’. The question is: Why do we do that?
The easy answer would be to say that we are all too lazy to research or that we prefer the fast hit of satisfaction we get from being the first of our followers to link to a site. As someone who identifies himself as a citizen journalist and who lectures in the subject, I think the answer is that we, the citizens, don’t yet fully understand what we are capable of doing with social media. Governments and broadcasters and are ahead of the game; after all, media is what they do; and they are uneasy at the rise of citizen journalism. Governments fear losing control of the truth and broadcasters fear losing their industry.
I have spent more time in Syria during this crisis than all the Western media foreign correspondents!
Jim Muir, the BBC Middle East correspondent, is sat in a hotel in Beirut (a three and a half hour drive from Damascus) watching YouTube videos and talking to people on Skype. You – yes you! – are only a few click away from being your own BBC Middle East correspondent. News broadcasters are only too aware of this. They fear they will lose their position to social media as the purveyors of ‘truth’. This is why they rushed to publish the most sensitive of images: The brutal murder of children – at a time when Syria is frantically holding onto a fragile peace. Putting the desire to be first above the desire to the true – but Citizen journalism can be an alternative news media.
You can listen to my podcast about The West’s Reporting of the Houla Massacre for The Wire in Australia