Media’s Coverage of Protests & Political Correctness

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by Shannon Jay

"We all have an obligation no matter the risk, and regardless of reward, to stand up for our fellow men and women who are being oppressed with the understanding that human rights cannot be compromised," Kaepernick said as he accepted the ACLU award from *gasps* Beyonce last week. Both have taken a blatant fight for black lives against police brutality on the football field -- Beyonce donned Black Panther inspired garb at the 2015 Super Bowl. Kaepernick keeps his protest up every time his feet hit the green. He's spawned a trend of players kneeling during the national anthem, outraging Fox News commentators and their viewers. 

Political correctness is often what conservative American media accuses “liberals” of being too sensitive about, usually in response to protesting what is unjust. Meanwhile, the beloved first amendment of the Constitution is regularly cited after backlash from racist or sexist comments or problematic tweet Trump spewed.

They’re safe in this defense, for whether inappropriate comments are combatted or not, their power remains the same. These events don’t conjure up troubling histories, like Confederate flags. They don’t denounce the valid concerns of a large group of people such as #AllLivesMatter. Concerns and peaceful protests about systemic issues are twisted into simple sensitivities. In turn, the PC argument is used continuously keep minorities down, perpetually dehumanizing them.

  Tommie Smith and John Carlos give the Black Panther salute in response to the anthem at the 1968 Olympics

 Tommie Smith and John Carlos give the Black Panther salute in response to the anthem at the 1968 Olympics

Valid societal concerns cannot be grasped by the narrow-minded, singularly-focused, white-male-dominated media networks. With only a few networks controlling all mainstream media, choice is merely an illusion, and representation desolate. Instead of fair coverage of the issues folks are protesting about, commentators cover the protests themselves, not looking past the means to see the ends.

Coverage undermines and neutralizes, focusing on the inconveniences and disruption instead of the discussion. Worse case, they switch to focus on those taking advantage of large groups of people to commit crimes, grouping those who are violent and steal with those who are peaceful and stand. If one googles the Ferguson protests, there is little from organizers and their demands, but instead coverage of the violence that ensued.  

Instead of pointing out the obvious ills of the police, they rush to their defence, placing the blame on the overwhelmingly unarmed black men who sometimes had not even committed a crime. The focus is placed on Terence Crutcher’s possession of drugs after asking cops for help with car trouble, or how Philando Castile went about telling the officer about his legal gun after being pulled over for being a considered a robbery suspect.

Meanwhile, race-driven mass shooters are “misunderstood lone wolves” are kept alive and given Burger King when they’re hungry. Conservative media remained unbiased about the groups of gun-wielding men illegally occupying federally protected land, listing their grievances and goals, while picking apart #BlackLivesMatter and not focusing on what the movement is really about. The media defends white men’s right to a fair trial while picking apart black men’s deaths to justify lethal force.

Those in the spotlight attempt to use their platforms to shed light on the matter. Millions of white eyes are glued to their TVs every Sunday, giving celebrities like Beyonce and players like Colin Kaepernick a wide and diverse platform to comment on the ills of society, a chance to reach an audience they otherwise might not. Their voices are told to be silenced, for they are mere entertainers, that their political agenda is disrupting game day. What’s truly disturbing, what should really be bothering these Americans, is the wrongful deaths of their fellow citizens at the hands of, albeit a few seemingly poorly trained but still sufficiently armed, those who should protect and serve all.

Those that criticize the sensitivity of liberals fail to capture the irony in their own exercises of censorship. These people want to whine about political correctness when we want to discuss these atrocities with American citizens, but call a kneel during the National Anthem an “attack.” They cry political correctness at events that systematically oppress others while complaining about wars being waged on patriotism. The rhetoric of those who are supposedly champions of the first amendment has led to children in school to be forced to stand for the pledge and even dock their grade if they refuse.

Critics of Kaepernick’s protest will tell you he is unpatriotic. What’s truly unpatriotic is putting symbols of our country above the residents that reside there. What truly disrespects our military is not supporting fellow Americans who they also fought for, and not standing up for them. Soldier’s selfless acts should inspire others to be more like Kaepernick or Beyonce, whose acts initiate a conversation that should incite action. Blindly reciting this anthem and never questioning authority is the type of government our soldiers fight against, dying for our right to make America the best country in the world for every single citizen living here, not just the privileged.

Kaepernick said it best himself:

“There’s a lot of racism in this country disguised as patriotism”