Tag: afghanistan
Xenophobia And White Supremacy Mar Coverage Of Ukraine Conflict

Xenophobia And White Supremacy Mar Coverage Of Ukraine Conflict

If you’ve been gathering proof that white supremacy drives western media coverage of international affairs, look no further than coverage of the Russian invasion into Ukraine. Charlie D’Agata, a CBS News senior correspondent in Kyiv, described Ukrainian citizens hiding in bomb shelters and tens of thousands of people trying to flee the city of Kyiv on Friday. Those people have been getting nonstop media coverage since Russian military forces launched a major attack on Ukraine on Thursday, but by activists’ estimates, they likely would’ve been ignored completely if they were Black, brown, or Muslim.

D’Agata’s synopsis of the attack seemed to lend evidence to that estimation. “But this isn’t a place—with all due respect—like Iraq or Afghanistan that has seen conflict raging for decades,” D’Agata said of Ukraine. “You know, this is a relatively civilized, relatively European—I have to choose those words carefully, too—city where you wouldn’t expect that, or hope that it’s going to happen.”

Saad Mohseni, director of the media company Moby Media Group in Afghanistan, called the statement "utterly stupid and ill informed" in a tweet on Saturday. “Afghanistan was also a peaceful and ‘civilised’ place in 1979 before the Soviets invaded (and became the battle zone between the West and Soviet block),” Mohseni tweeted. “Ditto for Iraq (before the American attack in 2003).”

Human rights lawyer Qasim Rashid called the CBS correspondent's response "overt white supremacy," an "absolutely disgusting dehumanization of people of color."

“White supremacy,” Rashid wrote, “is when Europe has launched two World Wars in the last century but it's Iraq & Afghanistan—two nations relentlessly bombed by western & European nations for 40 years—that are ‘uncivilized.’ This is how media dehumanizes BIPOC & normalizes white supremacy.”

Of course, D’Agata responded to criticism about the racist rhetoric with an apology.

“I spoke in a way that I regret, and for that I’m sorry,” he said. “What I’d hope to convey is that what’s unique about the fighting underway here is that this country has not really seen this scale of war in recent years unlike some conflicts in countries I’ve covered that have tragically suffered through many years of fighting.

“You should never compare conflicts anyway. Each one is unique. I’ve dedicated much of my career to telling the story of suffering through any of these wars, wherever they may be. I used a poor choice of words, and I apologize for any offense I may have caused.”

Oh, how I wish this were simply about one journalist’s poor choice of words. It just is not.

Author Alan Macleod posted tweet after tweet of journalists and politicians alike reinforcing the same double standard, with empathy seemingly bestowed according to skin color.

David Sakvarelidze, Ukraine’s deputy chief prosecutor, said on BBC: “It’s really emotional for me because I see European people with blue eyes and blonde hair being killed.”

Journalist Peter Dobbie used these words to describe Ukrainian refugees on Al Jazeera: "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 any European family that you'd live next door to."

In a column for The Telegraph, dubbed "Vladimir Putin’s monstrous invasion is an attack on civilisation itself," Daniel Hannan wrote of Ukrainian victims: “They seem so like us. That is what makes it so shocking. Ukraine is a European country. Its people watch Netflix and have Instagram accounts, vote in free elections and read uncensored newspapers. War is no longer something visited upon impoverished and remote populations. It can happen to anyone.”

Social media users didn’t hesitate to bring to international attention just how many of those “impoverished” populations became “impoverished.” In a phrase: Western interference.

When Paul Massaro, countercorruption adviser to Congress, tweeted that he was "racking" his brain "for a historical parallel to the courage and fighting spirit of the Ukrainians and coming up empty," activist Stanley Cohen responded: "Ever heard of Palestine? Its only been 74 years."

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos
Is Putin Risking Another Afghan Catastrophe For Russia In Ukraine?

Is Putin Risking Another Afghan Catastrophe For Russia In Ukraine?

On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin officially sent Russian forces into two eastern regions of Ukraine. The move came after Russia staged a series of events meant to provide a pretext for first recognizing, then occupying, two regions within Ukraine. As of Tuesday morning, Russia has sent forces into what it is calling the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics while additional Russian forces continue to surround and threaten larger invasions of Ukraine.

On Tuesday afternoon, the United States issued harsh new sanctions against Russia. Meanwhile, Reuters reports that the European Union is also levying sanctions intended to strike directly at Russian politicians, as well as financial institutions. And in what may be the most significant move, CNN reports that Germany is halting certification of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline—a measure that could cost Russia hundreds of billions. The Ukrainian government is welcoming this news as a sign of the unified support against Russia.

The United States provided an official diplomatic response in remarks by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield. “He calls them peacekeepers,” Thomas-Greenfield said of the forces Putin has sent into Ukraine. “This is nonsense. We know what they really are.”

An internal debate continues over whether to term the current state of affairs an invasion. That is in part because of a desire to distinguish troop movements so far from a broad military strike aimed to take parts of the country that were not already largely controlled by Russian puppet forces. It is also partly because Russian forces have unofficially been in and out of these regions for years, training, supplying, and working with the separatist militias, providing them with equipment like the ground-to-air missile used to shoot down a civilian passenger plane in 2014.

Putin could try to take the territories he has already occupied and solidify his control over them, as he did with Crimea in 2014. Or, as now seems more likely, he could use those territories to create further justification for invading all of Ukraine. Neither situation is acceptable, and Putin’s war of conquest is going to prove extremely costly. For everyone.

Germany’s halting of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline fulfills a promise that President Joe Biden made at a Feb. 7 news conference. “If Russia invades, that means tanks or troops crossing the border of Ukraine again,” said Biden, “then there will be no longer a Nord Stream 2. We will bring an end to it … I promise you we will be able to do it.” At the time, there seemed to be considerable doubt that Germany and other nations heavily dependent on Russian gas would go along with this idea, but Biden has worked tirelessly to restore alliances, pull NATO together, and present a unified front against Putin’s actions.

Putin’s pre-invasion theater includes transparently false charges of “aggression” by the Ukrainian government along with scenes of supposed civilian occupation, some of which appear to have been filmed days in advance. None of this even comes close to passing the smell test with an international audience. However, these scenes appear to have been staged mostly for the benefit of Putin’s domestic audience. Considering that Putin likely staged the bombing of apartment buildings in order to justify the Second Chechen War, this disinformation campaign at least comes with a relatively small body count—so far.

As Russian forces moved in, it seemed to be hoped that the Ukrainian government might respond with some military action that could be used to justify an all-out invasion. However, it’s unlikely that Putin will allow the lack of an actual confrontation to get in the way of taking further aggressive action.

Some of the efforts at creating a pretext for the invasion of Ukraine may come from what The Washington Post calls “surprising cracks” in Putin’s domestic support. Those cracks were visible even in Putin’s televised meeting with his security council. Even though the meeting was mostly slickly produced and clearly as scripted as those scenes of Ukrainian families being trucked into Russia for “protection,” there were moments when some of Putin’s advisers appeared to wander off script, generating anger from the Russian dictator as he pushed each to support the preordained outcome.

In a lengthy Twitter thread, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny called the meeting a “gathering of dotards and thieves” and pointed out its similarities to the meeting that must have preceded the Soviet Union’s decision to invade Afghanistan using the similar pretext of supporting local elements. “The result was hundreds of thousands of victims,” wrote Navalny. He reminded readers that the cost of this invasion—politically, militarily, and economically—was “one of the key reasons for the collapse of the USSR.”

Navalny expressed the belief held by many both inside and outside Russia that Putin is focusing on Ukraine as a means of diverting attention from his complete failure to deliver the kind of economic opportunities he has promised to Russia for decades. Despite trillions of dollars in income from oil and gas exports, little of those funds have been used to diversify or expand Russia’s economic base. Instead, the nation continues to be an oligarchic kleptocracy, pinned solidly at the bottom of the list when it comes to personal incomes or economic growth in Europe.

“We have everything for powerful development in the 21st century, from oil to educated citizens, but we will lose money again and squander the historical chance for a normal rich life for the sake of war, dirt, lies, and the palace with golden eagles in Gelendzhik,” writes Navalny. “To fight for Russia, to save it, means to fight for the removal of Putin and his kleptocrats from power.”

But if there are schisms in Russia and a unified front against Putin’s aggression in Europe, that’s harder to find in the pages of American newspapers. Instead, The Wall Street Journal is running a morning editorial declaring that Putin has “outfoxed” western leaders and The New York Times is studiously repeating Putin’s claims that Ukraine is just another part of Russia with the same kind of disingenuous guile that is regularly applied to Donald Trump.

However, the U.S. embassy in Kyiv had a deft response to claims about the appropriate relationship between Russia and Ukraine.

And Thomas-Greenfield made clear that this is not a case where Putin can now just sit back in a position of strength and contemplate if he wants to eat Ukraine whole today, or simply continue to eat it in bite-sized portions. No one has been “outfoxed,” and this is all a long way from over.

“History tells us that looking the other way in the face of such hostility will be a far more costly path. Russia’s clear attack on Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity is unprovoked. It is an attack on Ukraine’s status as a UN Member State, it violates a basic principle of international law, and it defies our Charter. What is more, this move by President Putin is clearly the basis for Russia’s attempt to create a pretext for a further invasion of Ukraine. The consequences of this action will be felt far beyond Ukraine’s borders.”

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Joe Biden inauguration

The Five Biggest Events To Go Down In 2021

If you turn on the news or visit your social media apps, the world looks a lot like 2020 still. Of course, the one massively sobering difference is Americans are no longer forced to live under a washed-up game show host turned cosplay fascist, treating democracy and the norms of governance like they were occurring in his tawdry casinos. It could be argued that we've been living in a simulation since the onset of the pandemic in 2020 and have yet to find the exit. In any case, 2021 brought some glimmers of hope amid bouts of destructive political partisanship and getting our fractured nation to come to grips with reality amid a never-ending pandemic.

1. January 6th Attack On the Capitol

Capitol Jan 6 | Blink O'fanaye | Flickr

Image via Flickr|Blink O' Fanaye

Saying this year began with chaos would be the understatement of the century. The biggest and most shocking event of our democracy happened less than a week into 2021. Hordes of irate MAGA cultists invaded the Capitol like the barbarians invaded Rome, right as Congress was at work certifying President Biden's unequivocally legitimate election victory in the Electoral College over now-former President Trump, forcing their evacuation. We watched images pour across our screens of defenseless Capitol Police officers trying to thwart this angry mob of Trumpist fanatics, with many of them facing injuries and one officer, Brian Sicknick, suffering a deadly stroke as a result of the chaos. You've got to hand it to the "bLuE LiVeS MaTtEr" crowd for striking an officer with a pole bearing a U.S. flag and dragging an officer down the stairs under the Capitol Dome. The unfolding drama and horror have resulted in lawmakers forming a select committee to investigate what led to the violence of that day, as well as what direct role former President Trump played. Not to mention the hundreds of arrests and prosecutions of the mob participants.

2. A Never-ending Pandemic

Fauci remains optimistic about near-end to pandemic in 2021 - Medill  Reports Chicago

Image via Northwestern University

While most of us thought the world would be welcoming the new year with celebratory events and massive crowds of jovial party goers, the highly contagious Omicron variant of Covid-19 all but killed those plans. Americans thought they'd be back to the daily grind of their lives and, most importantly, be able to be with their friends and families without having to don a biohazard suit. The fallout from Omicron complicates the promise of a president who vowed to get the pandemic under control. While President Biden acted valiantly and did much to mitigate the pandemic, plague fatigue and a large chunk of the citizenry stupidly devoted to refusing the vaccine and embracing baseless conspiracies will challenge the president and Democrats in the upcoming midterms.

3. The US Exit From Afghanistan

Soldiers assigned to the Combined Joint Task Force 76 are shown exiting a CH-47 Chinook

Image via US National Archives

An amazing thing happened over the summer: Millions of average Americans suddenly went from being infectious disease experts to foreign policy experts. Indeed, President Biden's smart decision to finally end our involvement in a 20-year war was met with a flurry of unfounded criticism from would-be experts, especially given the rather chaotic execution of the departure. The majority of Americans wanted out of Afghanistan and former President Trump had laid plans to exit the war-torn country even earlier than Biden did. However, the planning and timing of the exit didn't exactly proceed with flying colors.

The Biden administration had thought the U.S.-backed Afghan government would hold on to power for at least six months. However, the Taliban had taken over the country before the final U.S. troops were out of the airport. It represented a major blow for Biden, who had promised weeks earlier that withdrawing from Afghanistan would not lead to a Saigon-like fall. Instead, Biden was forced to watch videos of desperate people fleeing to the airport, with a few plunging to their deaths as they clung to U.S. planes.

4. The Vaccination Fight

File:Anti Vax or mask IMG 3966 (51380804053).jpg - Wikimedia Commons

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Nothing has shown how unbelievably selfish and despicably partisan our nation has become than the fight to get our population vaccinated. In what can best be described as one part Idiocracy and one part Simpsons episode, we've watched far-right Republicans and deranged conspiracy theorists spout utter nonsense about the vaccine, the CDC, Dr Anthony Fauci, and members of the medical community just trying to do their damn jobs. A year after the miraculous development of effective COVID-19 vaccines, only 61 percent of the nation’s population is vaccinated, which clearly represents the danger of misinformation (Horse dewormer, anyone?) that infects social media like Covid itself.

Not surprisingly, the majority of the anti-vaxx noise is coming from far-right and GOP circles, thus proving the Republican party has become a death cult. Things have gotten so utterly insane that many of Trump's loudest cult members are raging against their own cult leader for his embrace of the vaccine, booing him at events and going after him on social media. At this point, it almost seems fitting to build a wall around the anti-vax crowd and make Fox News pay for it. But seriously, the CDC points out that vaccinated people are 14 times more likely to die from COVID-19 complications. Biden has done all he could to convince these selfishly stupid (and they are stupid) Americans to get vaccinated, but it's up to Darwin now.

5. Inflation

Forecasts Archives - PIDE Blog

Image via Pakistan Institute for the Development of Economics

Shutting down the world economy for nearly a year has had devastating impacts on the price of goods, especially as everything opened up all at once. Prices in 2021 rose at the fastest rate in 40 years, creating enormous problems for President Biden and his agenda. Government stimulus checks and other measures were desperately needed during a raging pandemic, but the rapid printing of money has spaned hyperinflation. It was a catch 22, but one that could not be avoided.

A shortage of workers contributed to wage gains, but more price hikes at restaurants and hotels. Notwithstanding these setbacks to the economy, the stats show the recovery is going well and Biden's economy has seen huge gains.

Obviously so much more happened in 2021, but those events got the most national attention and news time. Let's hope 2022 is far less chaotic.

Michael Hayne is a comedian, writer, voice artist, podcaster, and impressionist. Follow his work on Facebook and TikTok

OAN displays debunked Afghanistan helicopter video.

Right-Wing Media Won’t Stop Lying About Afghan ‘Hanged’ From Chopper

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Multiple right-wing media figures, outlets, and social media users falsely claimed that a viral video showing a man in Afghanistan suspended from a helicopter was an execution by the Taliban. Other footage of the flight showed the man alive and well, and reportedly he was attempting to fix a flag.

This narrative is just one example of multiple falsehoods spread by conservatives to attack President Joe Biden following his decision to withdraw U.S. military forces from Afghanistan.

As Media Matters previously wrote, Fox News host Sean Hannity aired the footage on the August 31 edition of Fox News' Hannity, falsely claiming it showed the Taliban dangling a hanged man from a Black Hawk helicopter in Afghanistan. But Hannity's claim had been debunked before his show aired.

Conservative media personalities and politicians — including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO) — also repeated the false claim on Twitter, using it to criticize the Biden administration's decision to remove U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Cruz later deleted his tweet, writing that the information in it "may be inaccurate."

A tweet by Rep. Jason Smith that reads "On the day that we see innocent people hanging from an American helicopter, the Biden Administration decides to pull out early leaving behind hundreds of Americans and even more innocents to die at the hands of the Taliban. It's unacceptable and heartbreaking."

A Fox anchor along with multiple contributors and guests have also engaged with the false claim, as have other right-wing cable channels like One America News Network and Newsmax, other media organizations and users on fringe social media platforms.

Fox News and Fox Business

  • On August 30, a day before Hannity himself pushed this lie, Hannity guest Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) said that "we had a video today of one of our Blackhawk helicopters with somebody hanging from it as it moves through the sky."
  • Also on August 30, guest Elliot Ackerman said on The Ingraham Angle that "we just saw the Taliban flying a Blackhawk helicopter above Kandahar with a dead body hanging from its bottom."
  • On August 30, Fox Business guest Stephen Yates said: "We have today the Taliban hanging someone from a helicopter."
  • On August 31, Fox Business guest Sam Brown said, "We're seeing the reality of the Taliban now flying Blackhawk helicopters over Kabul, hanging their enemy."
  • Later the same day, Fox contributor Katie Pavlich said on The Five, "They are hanging people from our helicopters." Pavlich repeated this later in the show, saying the Taliban have "been using" weapons left behind "to execute our allies who helped us on the ground. … They hung a guy with a helicopter."
  • That evening, Fox Business anchor David Asman was discussing the helicopters U.S. forces left behind and said: "At least one was used yesterday in horrific fashion to hang a human being. We don't know the circumstances of that. We don't know who that person was that was hanging from the helicopter. But in one of the typically sick dimension of the way that these -- the Taliban think, or whoever was piloting that helicopter, that's how they used it."
  • And on September 1, Fox News contributor Charles Hurt said on Fox Business, "The image of our Blackhawk helicopter flying around Kabul with the body of what appears to be a dead person hanging from the bottom of it -- those images get seared into people's minds, and they never forget it."


  • On the August 31 edition of the morning show Wake Up America, Newsmax's Alex Kraemer showed and read a tweet claiming that the Taliban "are now hanging innocent civilians from [helicopters] for the world to see." Later in the show, co-host Rob Finnertysaid: "We saw someone hanging from a helicopter on video. This person was dead."
  • During Newsmax's August 31 midday show John Bachman Now, the host said there are "U.S. Blackhawks reportedly being flown by the Taliban with people hanging from them."
  • Later that day on American Agenda, Newsmax host Grant Stinchfield said the Taliban were "flying people hanging from Blackhawk helicopters yesterday." Later in the show, former Trump spokesperson Jason Miller referenced people in Kabul risking being "flown around the city hanging by their neck off of a helicopter."
  • On September 1, Finnerty repeated this lie on Wake Up America, saying: "We saw somebody hanging from a U.S. military helicopter over Kabul just a couple of days ago."

One America News Network

  • On August 31, the host of OAN's In Focus with Stephanie Hamill said: "There's video circulating online of them in an American helicopter with a man hanging by his neck off of the helicopter." Her guest, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), replied: "That's sick. That is sick."
  • Later on Real America, host Dan Ball previewed the video he claimed shows "the Taliban flying one of our Blackhawk choppers in Kandahar with a body hanging from it" with a long-winded warning about graphic content. He added: "Now, have we vetted it all out? Can I confirm it happened yesterday? I don't know when it happened. It's all over the web. It's from Kandahar. I can't read what that says, but we're getting this from multiple sources of folks that were there on the ground. They confirm it's one of our choppers, they confirm it's from Afghanistan. I don't know who's hanging there, but -- you want to see this stuff come over here? And I'm not trying to fearmonger one bit. I'm keeping it real, folks."

Other right-wing outlets and social media

  • On August 30, Gateway Pundit shared a screenshot of the video on its website along with tweets containing versions of the video, incorrectly claiming that "today the Islamists used US helicopters to hang 'traitors' in Kandahar Afghanistan" and argued that the Taliban was "openly mocking" the U.S.
  • On August 31, the New York Post published the video on its website along with an article that said "it is not immediately clear exactly how [the person in the video] is attached or if he is alive." The piece then quoted "some journalists" who it says "insisted that it showed someone who had been hanged — and then paraded in the skies."
  • The video of the helicopter and screenshots from the video also spread on several fringe right-wing social media platforms between August 30 and September 1, including Gab, 4chan, and Patriots.win. This content was also shared widely among right-wing users on the messaging app Telegram. Many of these posts criticized the Biden administration, with one Patriots.win user claiming, falsely, that the Taliban was "flying [a] Biden-provided Blackhawk helicopter…while hanging someone from it." This post quoted a tweet stating that "it's an absolute shitfest to see the Taliban now actually flying US BlackHawk helicopters, hanging people by the throat from them!! The American President will never be forgiven for this!!"
Research contributions from Leo Fernandez and Bobby Lewis