Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the White House, which allowed for this incredible photo-op. The photo of Obama sitting relaxed with a large smile on his face, and Netanyahu with his hardened body language and a boom mic in the foreground came out in news outlets. I instantly thought to myself “this has to be a meme”, hoping that someone else would make one. But then in a playful mood I just decided to create this one myself.
In the meme I play on the concept that many people believe about politics: that it’s all staged. It’s something that I myself as a political scientist struggle with a lot. It’s important to know what’s going on in the world, but it can be a frustrating endeavor when you know on a certain level that things are more coordinated then they may seem. While there is certainly a level of conspiracy in the way things operate, there is also a reality as well. A reality that not all of us are privy to know, and the ones who do know, do not readily share.
This is not a subject matter that is typically discussed in the media. But then again Global Grind is not your typical media outlet. Along with being a Hip-Hop and Celebrity culture website, GG is a platform for truth and the dissemination of words of social justice. The site aims to lift spirits and inform the public, it is after all the creation of Russell Simmons, whom I happened to meet by happenstance at Occupy Wall Street back in 2011.
If you’ve ever noticed my writing on this website, you probably felt a certain way about my passion about a given topic. Whether it was an article about police brutality in the United States or the Syrian refugee Crisis, you probably felt a certain type of way because I am particularly emblazoned on my path as an activist for human rights. I can’t hide my passion and I don’t, so if I hit on some nerves or emotional chords it’s understandable why.
But this article is a little different, in that I’m discussing what is very rarely discussed, our distrust for politics and how that plays out in the media. I’ve done my research in terms of what conspiracy theories are out there and balanced that with what I learned while studying public policy at both the undergraduate and masters levels.
So I ask the question, how do we as a society trust in political affairs? This strikes a particular chord with me right now as The Paris Attacks have me affected. I’ll give it to you straight. I’ve got close friends in Paris and an incredible love for the city, so I was particularly hurt by what happened. Which I guess is part of the intention in the attack in the first place, it was organized to hurt Western society. However it was coordinated and planned, the murdering of innocent civilians, especially en mass, is something that the world takes notice of. I took notice, and I’m sure in your own way you did too.
I’ve discussed the event with numerous friends. Whether it was with another rapper (ya I got some bars) from Canada, a friend in Paris, or a close friend in India, we discussed it. All of the conversations demonstrated a frustration with the struggle I am discussing in this article: how do we interpret these acts intelligently when we know the coordination may have been more surreptitious than what meets the eye.
The mere consciousness that this could have been orchestrated from supposedly trustworthy channels comes from the distrust we have for political affairs. As a citizenry we only have access to the information that is delivered to us, mostly through the media, and we must guide our actions accordingly.
So how do I trust in political affairs? I don’t. I just pay attention to the narrative. I have been studying the narrative very closely with a particular empathy for those who actually live the experience. While many can reflect on the Paris Attacks as a political maneuver it’s important not to forget that each one of those lives lost was someone else’s sister, someone else’s brother, lover, husband, wife, child, and the list goes on. These were people whose lives were lost, and they were lost in a terror motivated manner.
Terrorism is an ideology, a means to make a point, which is why I personally hope our politicians treat it as such and not as a reason to take military action that will only result in further innocent lives lost.
Whatever does happen, just know that trusting in political affairs is often to be taken with a grain of salt. Don’t get too caught up in what it might be because we just simply don’t know. We do not have access to that information unfortunately, that information being the truth.
When I refer to “the narrative” earlier I am referring to the storyline that is played out in the media. Consider this from a perspective of a celebrity who reads a headline about themselves that is so far from the truth but in line with the storyline about them in the media. This reflects a disconnect between “the narrative” and “the experience”. I elaborate on this concept in my book (link: https://londonarielle.wordpress.com/2015/10/15/gibberish-speakerphone-for-the-mind/) if you want to explore the idea further.
There is a place for skepticism and a place for belief in political affairs. Things do happen. People were mass murdered in The City of Love this past weekend. That happened. So in terms of “the narrative” and “the experience” distinction, there is the true experience that did happen and then there is the angles that are incorporated into the experience in the narrative. Which then actually affects the experience, because it influences our patterns of thought. Being aware of this distinction is step 1 in reading the news responsibly.
As regular citizens, we all just need to navigate these tricky waters on our own, just remember to be awake to the reality that the world is a stage and we simply don’t have all of the answers, and then go from there.
PHOTO CREDIT: Arielle London