In a series of tweets on Sunday, 1619 Project founder Nicole Hannah-jones claimed that Europe is technically "not a continent by definition, but a geopolitical fiction to separate it from Asia." Her reasoning behind this was to say that the war in Ukraine is being hyped as one in which "like us" are being attacked, meaning that Americans "should care" for that reason.
Hannah-Jones claims that the reason for Europe being considered as a separate continent from Asia is so that "the alarm about a European, or civilized, or First World nation being invaded is a dog whistle to tell us we should care because they are like us."
She goes on to say "Europe is not a continent, I don't care where the demarcation lies." When users countered back, saying that Europe is indeed a continent, she asked for "the definition of continents."
Ukraine is part of Europe, part of the west, birthplace of Western Civilization, which is the foundation of America, Canada, and the entire Anglosphere. For westerners, seeing a war launched against European peace could be jarring, especially considering that the two major European wars of the 20th century, World Wars 1 and 2, engulfed the world.
She went on to say that "We should care about Ukraine. But not because it is European, or the people appear white, or they are 'civilized' and not 'impoverished.' All people deserve to be free and to be welcomed when their countries are at war.
This after Hannah-Jones shared a clip claiming that "The Supremacy around the media coverage of this isn't even subtle," according to the New York Post.
Hannah-Jones claimed that coverage of the war in Ukraine shows the "insidious racism" of the press, slamming a BBC report saying that "European people with blond hair and blue eyes" are under threat.
"Every journalist covering Ukraine should really, really look internally," Hannah-Jones tweeted. "This is why I say we should stop pretending we have objectivity and instead acknowledge our biases so that we can report against them. Many of us see the racialized analysis and language."
She continued: "And honestly, these admissions of shock that this is happening in a European country are ahistorical and also serve to justify the lack of sympathy for other invasions, other occupations and other refugee crisis involving peoples not considered white."
The tables were turned on Hannah-Jones' comments by Twitter account Free Black Thought, when they said: "What id we told you race is not a human attribute by definition, but a sociological fiction to separate 'POC' from others and so this snide remark about a white nation being invaded by whites is a blatant disregard for human life, but we shouldn't care because they're not like us."
Hannah-Jones wasn't the only one to claim that the war in Ukraine is being hyped because it "is happening to white people." CNN columnist Jeff Yang also made that case, quoting an account showing a British reporter in Poland saying "now the unthinkable has happened to them, and this is not a developing third world nation, this is Europe."
The Arab and Middle Eastern Journalists Association (AMEJA) also claimed that news on the war in Europe showed "implicit and explicit bias," and that press should be "mindful" of that. They claim to "have tracked examples of racist news coverage that ascribes more important to some victims of war over others."
They quote CBS as saying that the war in Europe is not like those waged in the Middle East that have "seen conflict raging for decades," but a "relatively civilized, relatively European" place "where you wouldn't expect that." The AMEJA also takes aim at the British outlet The Telegraph, as well as Al Jazeera English, and others, for appearing to have more interest and concern for the war in Europe than those waged in other parts of the world.
"AMEJA condemns and categorically rejects orientalist and racist implications that any population or country is 'uncivilized' or bears economic factors that make it worthy of conflict. This type of commentary," they go on to say, "reflects the pervasive mentality in Western journalism or normalizing tragedy in parts of the world such as the Middle East, Africa, South Asia, and Latin America."
They claim that "it dehumanizes and renders their experience with war as somehow normal and expected."
In essence, the message from Hannah-Jones, CNN's Yang, and the AMEJA is that it is essential to take a relativist approach to reporting on world events, that no culture ought to have more concern for the trial of those who are part of that culture than of any other. They reject the west's fixation with western culture and Western Civilization in the reporting on Europe just as they reject it in education, institutional focus, or government policy.
In their view, it doesn't matter that Europe is the launching pad from which North American nations sprang, or that wars in Europe have consistently become global affairs, or that Western Civilization, which has been under attack by progressive press, academics, and others for decades, is now under aggressive threat by an adversarial nation. Caring equally for everything is the same as caring for nothing at all.
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