Published on September 17th, 2010 | by Zachary Shahan
US Media Ignore Pakistan's Worst Disaster in Modern History
TIME magazine once gave us the photos that were painful to accept of the Vietnam War, so did our TVs, and Walter Cronkite. Due to these images, we rose up as a country to question the status quo. These days, the Great Pakistan Deluge happens, and what does TIME magazine do? Pull the story.
An “unprecedented” disaster in Pakistan’s modern history occurs, TIME — a once trusted and important source of national and global information — publishes it as its cover story everywhere else, but pulls it from the American version of the magazine, even though President Obama has repeatedly said that Pakistan is central to our own safety.
Is this a pattern in mainstream US media? Yes. Are the shades of suppression coming from a media dependent on selling the next drug with 20 side effects or a false sense of security, instead of supplying education on huge current events? Who knows? But they are coming from somewhere.
Pakistan is the sixth largest country in the world (in population), and also a major non-NATO ally of ours. We should be interested if these people are dealing with a deluge. 20% of it was flooded and how much attention and care did we give? As reported by Nathanial Gronewold of Climatewire on Scientific American:
The flooding witnessed in the Indus Valley is unprecedented in the country’s modern history and was caused by a combination of increasingly warm ocean water and a mysterious blockage of the jet stream, which drew warm, water-laden air north to Pakistan, over which it burst in sheets of raging liquid. If the floods that followed prove a harbinger of things to come, then they are a milestone in our experience of global warming, a big story in its own right.
As educator, commentator, and modern-day historian Juan Cole put it: “out of sight, out of mind.” He points out that the failure to report on this is also a threat to our own national security. It seems to be a trend in corporate media to control the news on global warming-related current events. Just act like it is in a different dimension where children and climate don’t matter.
Does it follow that we are lacking in empathy due to our complacency, a pre-condition for denial? More from Juan Cole’s discussion: “No rock concerts were organized to help Pakistani children sleeping on highways or in open fields infested with vermin. No sports events offered receipts to aid victims at risk from cholera and other diseases.” Beyond the consciousness of Americans are the happenings that lead to our future where complacency and accountability are issues that may only, but eventually, wake us when it is too late.
The UN secretary called it the worst disaster he had ever seen -– more terrible than the tsunami and the Haitian earthquakes. With about a 4% extra amount of water in the atmosphere (due, most definitely, to global warming), it is difficult to miss that that provides plenty of moisture for storms such as this. The prospects of these kinds of things happening again are only increasing.