Switching on to any news channel is enough to understand that Europe is not at its best these days. Between the saga of the Greek financial tragedy, the migrants’ waves trying to enter the European Union, the rising extreme right movement and the diverse disastrous attacks that can erupt at any moments, the old continent is scared. Luckily, and in its pure historical European tradition, scapegoats are being found, thanks in part to corporate media and traditional political parties, always here to point fingers when needed.
For the Greek crisis the answer is easy: It is the fault of Greek people, media and the politicians say. Apparently, the failure of the “troika” (the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund) has obviously nothing to do with it. Forget that they highly accentuated the Greek debt and social inequalities through the austerity measures imposed. Forget that the suicide rate has increased by 35%, and that the national unemployment rate is over 25% and close to 50% for the youth (Source: Eurostat and CNBC). The Greeks need to make more effort according to its financial detractors. And the election of the radical left party Syriza, which is highly in favor of the people’s social well-being is not here to please the creditors of the country.
With this party in power, how is it then possible for the ultra-liberal EU commission to work with such left government? Espcecially when the commission is led by the very economically liberal Mr. Jean-Claude Junker, the man who made his country Luxembourg into a tax-haven places for corporations. And now that the EU commission is giving a bailout offer to the Greeks that they can’t refuse, how can the citizens of the oldest democracy even think of saying OXI (NO)? Indecent that is, according to the numerous financial experts who continuously come to talk about it in different media. Such experts are often conveniently chosen by the media of course, as they are often affiliated with the banks or multinational companies. It was the case for 71% of the financial experts invited by the renown French left-leaning newspaper Le Monde. Only 5% of the economical experts were expressing some dissident views on the E.U economical policies regarding Greece (Source: Acrimed). And that, even though it is acknowledged that such plan presented to the Greeks offers nothing new, but is just very likely to postpone the fateful exit date, in probably much worse condition than now.
From what we hear in the mainstream discourse, the head of Syriza Mr. Alexis Tsipras, has had more than enough time in his 6 months of power to sort the Greek economy out, and should stop playing with the EU.
However it need to be taken in account that such words are said by governments and people which have been in power for years now, (Cameron in UK, Merkel in Germany, Lagarde in the IMF) but have still been powerless when it came to find solutions for the Greek debt. The money that was given to Greece was used to bail out the banks. Very little came to the people of Greece. Although, it highly served the IMF which made an estimated profit of 900 millions from the interests of the hellenic loan (Source: Jubileedebt).
For most other issues troubling Europe, the responsible can be designated behind one word for media: Immigrants. We already knew from the UK and French media that they were job-thief, potential terrorists and benefit-abusers, but now there is something even worse in the eyes of the media: It has been reported that in Calais, a city in north of France, they even dared to ruin the holidays of tourists who were taking a bus to England, by massively climbing into trucks going to England! How unthoughtful of them? The major French information TV channel ‘LCI’ did not forget to precise that the poor passengers were ‘feeling unsafe but that there was not need to panic because the doors were closed’ when they saw such horrific scene. According to the journalist it seems more than migrants are trying to highjack the bus rather than hide in them to get to the UK. Not once the pain and struggle that immigrants have to go through to reach Europe is mentioned, even though they loose everything and risk their life to come to the EU.
Indeed, the media prefers to focus its report on other issues, more adapted to the summer. The conservative English paper Daily Mail report that in South Italy or Greece, British tourists don’t even want to come anymore, as they cannot tolerate the view of Syrians, Iraqis, Afghanis or other Africans intruders ruining such ideal landscape that they paid for. Truly, immigrants really seem to be doing everything to make the European’s people life uneasier.
If we add to that all the terrorist attacks erupting all around the world, media likes to repeat it: Europe is on war against terror. English victims in the Tunisia beach attack, the Charlie Hebdo attacks, the other recent French victim killed by an apparently mentally unstable man in the French Alps. French Prime minister Valls has made it a priority of his time in office.
Even if the European situation is surely not equivalent to the massacres that are happening in Syria, the thousands of people who died under the hand of the sect Boko Haram in Nigeria, or the continuous attacks occurring in Iraq, it seems that the media and governments are motivated by a strong warrior spirit, and rather avoid to talk about the responsibility. It does not matter that attacks against Europeans appear to be much more of isolated acts and much less structured and organized than in other parts of the world, media likes to assert and hype it, as George W. Bush once said, “You are either with us, or against us”.
Media got the message. It does not matter if this leads to, shortcuts, conservative platforms often pointing fingers at the whole Muslim world, who are the first suffering from such attacks. Some people have to be held responsible, and the media and politics are finding them. Luckily, ISIS, the providential monster is here! No need to question the consequences of asymmetrical warfare or the colonial shadow of the West on the rest of the world, to explain such terrible attacks.
Let us just blame it on these bunch of lunatics without trying to understand the causes, it will avoid everyone a headache. And of course, let us not mention that reinforcing security measures and controls in European borders will increase the suspicions stigma on already targeted populations, aggravating socials issues, even if that, plus the constant media bashing against Muslims, is obviously playing a major role with the radicalization on such vulnerable populations. Galvanized political discourse along with the media hype around it, largely contribute to hold accountable a handful of radicals for other millions of Muslims, who represent 6% of the total European population.
So what response does Europeans have to bring to all this fear? The one and only good old extreme right movements, always reliable in such moments! Europeans have witnessed it, they are back, and stronger than ever. Whether we talk about Viktor Orban in Hungary or the other strong extreme right formations who have never been so popular in Western Europe (Pegida in Germany, UKIP in UK and Front National in France), the European electorate seems very inclined to give its vote to these kind of political parties these days.
If for some, it seems rather obvious that there is a correlation between the politics of fear played by the media and governments, through the negative portrayal of immigrants/non-westerners and the rise of such parties, mainstream media seems to struggle to establish such a link, and to assess their own responsibilities. Indeed, they prefer to assimilate extreme right movements with radical left parties, in order to discredit any anti-austerity initiatives (See the case of BBC). For instance, in Greece Syriza or in Spain Podemos, could fight such extreme right parties through emphasizing on the social needs that Europeans have. The reason behind such discredit, is that mainstream corporate media have to represent the interest of their ultra-liberal shareholder who allow them to sustain. Therefore how could they advocate the benefit that Europe could have in taking the true left, economically anti-liberal, and social path?
What is new in Europe? Not much really, most of the problems are being blamed on discriminated minorities, extreme right movement are flourishing thanks to the financial state failures, in Greece and other countries, therefore feeding xenophobic populist discourses. Rather reminiscent of what the situation in the old continent was a few decades ago it seems. Well, it simply shows that Europe doesn’t learn, but let us no worry about that. As long as scape-goats are to be found, Europeans will always rise and gather against a common (fabricated) enemy. About actually solving the issues, we may think about that in other times.