Happy MLK Jr. Day.
Today is a day when most Americans are forced to remember, either by the advantage of a day off, or the disadvantage of a day in the office while others enjoy their day off, of the civil rights movement, MLK Jr.’s message, and the still-rampant injustices and prejudices that pervade our society to this day, and that will unfortunately stretch into the foreseeable future. Instead of quietly sweeping inequality under a rug, we (hopefully) pick it up, shake it out, and clean up our acts – (and even more hopefully) gain a better sense of the future, and how not to be so afraid of uncomfortable situations instead of just making the rug of apathy even larger to cover up our indiscretions. Race is a hard issue, with many views and tensions and emotions that are connected to our very being, and historical inadequacies that make it even tougher –but at least we manage a bit of open dialogue and respect every now and then.
A few months ago, many would have said that discussions of race and gender and other common prejudices in America need to be opened up to more debate, more dialogue, more general thought and true philosophical argument. It is when people are talking and sharing, and the media is fully in cooperation with broadcasting these breakthroughs and breakdowns that we can move forward as a nation into prosperity for people of all races and genders and etc. A few months ago, some would have said that the topics which are covered at nausea today deserve the same kind of extensive coverage year-round, like the Iraq War coverage. But no one could make that argument any longer. Why? Because it seems that Iraq has faded into some subterranean stratum. The news media has fallen asleep in terms of reporting the Iraq war, in a quicker and much more disturbing fashion than it did with Afghanistan. Race and gender aren’t getting a lot of attention in the news, but it’s definitely beating Iraq for newsreel time right now. Why? The likely reason: The economy. But here’s the real question: the economy has been shifting towards recession for a while now – so why this sudden shift of media outlets? Is it due to the political parties scramble for viable presidential candidates? Is it a general sense that the people who consume the news are sick of listening to stories about Iraq? How can we ignore the fact that this country is still at war, and that no matter how many troops are brought home, we still need to understand their struggles and weigh the costs of deployment? Or perhaps the economy is crunching the resources of journalistic outlets to embed their people in these warzones? Beats me. Even though the media might be giving up on Iraq reporting because they think the next president will bring most troops home – they’re still there now and deserve our attention and concern. I hope someone raises the alarm of the problem of journalistic apathy — not just for the war, but for equality and any other issue that would heighten the awareness of the American people, and make our country a place where MLK Jr’s dreams start to truly take fruitition.