Thursday, December 15, 2016

The annals of human stupidity and bias

Every time I turn on the BBC or ITV news I get another concerned presenter gravelly describing the latest terrible suffering inflicted by the savage, blistering air and ground assault on Mosul Aleppo.

From Patrick Cockburn, The Independent:
"The Iraqi army, backed by US-led airstrikes, is trying to capture east Mosul at the same time as the Syrian army and its Shia paramilitary allies are fighting their way into east Aleppo. An estimated 300 civilians have been killed in Aleppo by government artillery and bombing in the last fortnight, and in Mosul there are reportedly some 600 civilian dead over a month.

"Despite these similarities, the reporting by the international media of these two sieges is radically different.

"In Mosul, civilian loss of life is blamed on Isis, with its indiscriminate use of mortars and suicide bombers, while the Iraqi army and their air support are largely given a free pass. Isis is accused of preventing civilians from leaving the city so they can be used as human shields.

"Contrast this with Western media descriptions of the inhuman savagery of President Assad’s forces indiscriminately slaughtering civilians regardless of whether they stay or try to flee. The UN chief of humanitarian affairs, Stephen O’Brien, suggested this week that the rebels in east Aleppo were stopping civilians departing – but unlike Mosul, the issue gets little coverage.

Lunchtime today Clare and myself attended the Christmas Carol Service at the Bishop's Palace chapel, here in Wells.

The conducting minister was a charming woman channelling the BBC. God was asked to intercede for those suffering civilians in Aleppo (why does God need to be asked?).

I restrained my impulse to suggest her compassionate prayers be extended to the civilians in Mosul, currently being strafed by US and British air power.

Next she recounted, in factual and heart-warming detail, the historically-fanciful story of the Nativity - as if she believed every word to be literally true:
"How did Mary feel when the Angel appeared to her? I imagine she was rather shocked and awed."
Yes, I imagine she was.