The Loss of Trust

The damage done by vested interests, globally, has been something irreparable and irredeemable. It is loss of trust. The people have not only lost trust in their ruling parties, but also in the media that they guide and control, writes SYED IQBAL ZAHEER.

One of the terrible things that has happened lately is the growing idea that the media is an untrustworthy source of factual information. It is hardly debated between the informed people that the character of untrustworthiness is contained within the media itself in addition to other reasons. There is no question now of dependability of what it offers, whether the issue is political, economic, social, or cultural. Even science has not been spared.

You cannot take what you hear, see, or read, on its face value. Generally, the untruth is hidden behind apparent innocent words. Their intention is to make you read further to quench your curiosity and urge for details. And their strategy is to force the reader to turn pages before details are dealt with. And, exposure to more pages is to expose the reader to advertisements. The advertisers pay for the number of displays and number of hits that pages score. So that, one article running through several pages, contains only one advertisement – repeated through and through.

For example, a news piece says, “A woman finds a lizard in her bra.” Curiosity leads one to click, especially because to know how it could have happened at all. But the second page, too, does not satisfy the curiosity or the interest that was created. Primarily because three-fourth of the pages are occupied by advertisements. The related detail is presented little by little. So one has to turn to a third page, or perhaps a fourth.

In addition to other details, which actually are no more than space fillers, the main idea is advertisements. In this case, the detail is added in the next page viz., the woman is reported as saying, “I screamed when I discovered it.” It is on the third page that the reader discovers that the little lizard was found when she opened her suitcase, because she was just back from a journey. The lizard was found right on top of her bra packed in. The page also displays a picture of the suitcase, with the little thing perched on the folded bra.

Another example is from a Real Estate company. It offers luxury apartments in Dubai. The ad runs as follows. We have removed the name of the company. The ad is for living apartments:

“Experience the new definition of luxury with xxx Hartland. Dwell in Dubai’s only freehold community, situated in the iconic Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum City, minutes away from the Burj Khalifa.”

“Hartland Waves, by the Waterfront District, is a crisp clean architecture that stands tall in front of the 1.8 km boardwalk that xxx Hartland enjoys on its waterfront side. The façade is a simple play of horizontal and vertical forms that give uninterrupted 360-degree views to the tower that will enjoy the sunrises and sunsets of every beautiful day.”

The first impression the advertisement gives is that the property is in the “heartland” of Dubai. It is not, it is simply named “Hartland” without being in the “heartland.” Next, it says it enjoys “waterfront side.” This is not saying that it is on the beach. “Waterfront side,” can be behind high rise buildings in between. Third, it says that the property allows a 360-degree view. How is that possible, unless the property rotates.

Again, “enjoy the sunrises and sunsets.” That, of course, would be only possible if you have four apartments on four sides, occupying each in turns during the 24-hour cycle. Finally, it claims, “minutes away from the Burj Khalifa.” People who have been there would know that the Burj Khalifah is encircled by mid-rise building from all sides preventing views unless you get very close to the tower.

So, the advantage of sighting the Burj is on paper. And, what is the advantage in being minutes away from the tower, and from sighting it? The Burj is not Taj Mahal. You hardly look at the Burj after the first two or three looks.

Thus, nothing of the above is untrue, but nothing mentioned proves true when you visit the property.This is an example of how untruth is hidden behind true statements.

A third example is that of terror and terrorism, launched after the attack on the twin towers and Pentagon headquarters on 9/11. Terrorists were blamed for it. Al-Qaida was identified as the perpetrator. Its leader was then alive. It was found that the fellow is seriously sick, is confined to a house, ordered by the local government since past few months, and he has no telephone. When contacted, he said, “Look, we are Jihadists. We do not lie. If we did it, we would own it.”

But to the American administration, and rest of the friendly world, “Al-Qaida did it.”

At all events, a huge global propaganda was launched by the USA, followed by countries of the rest of the world. Soon raids were conducted everywhere. Sleeping Cells were discovered, men and women identified, and thrown into prisons. A butcher in USA was suspected of links with Al-Qaida because his invoices showed that he had a customer who was ‘suspected’ of links with ‘a sleeping cell’ of al-Qaidah. Dawah Centers, Islamic Institutes, Madrasahs, Charity Houses, were raided, ransacked, literature destroyed, and furniture broken. Anyone who had any contact was hurled into the prison. That was at the global level.

Any bomb explosions, armed attacks, even knife-wielding, was naturally the proof of activities of the terrorists. A passenger forced an aero-plane he was in to crash into a mountain in Switzerland. More than a hundred died. But that was not terrorism. Attacks by a gun-carrying man entering into a school or college and indiscriminately shooting dead dozens was no terrorism. Two dozen men raping a girl for months, is not terrorism.

But despite being kept in prisons for months and years, the terrorists were not taken to the courts. Why? Because the authorities were not able to obtain a shred of hard evidence to connect them to terrorists, or terrorist activities. At least once, the world was united.

We are not going into the details of indiscriminate bombings, killing of merchants, agricultural labor, women and children. To the world never so conscious of human rights as now, these are not unusual crimes. The major justification was that those so treated were Muslims, and Muslims are violent, so they deserve it.

In years that followed the 9/11 attacks, the educated Americans and those of the continents began to suspect and make inquiry. It took some time to unearth the truth: that it was an ‘inside’ job, that the authorities knew about it all along, that the blame on the supposed perpetrators was a hoax, and the terms “terror and terrorism” were coined to help and prepare grounds for what they had planned to do, without facing opposition.

The media however, remained staunchly with the authorities, and needed no applause for the services they rendered. They remained over-efficient and loyal. No broadcast of any nature: radio, TV, Newspaper or Magazines, left lanes and alleys uninformed and uneducated of the wrongs done to the world and its innocent population, by the terrorists and terrorism. The result was that the Muslim came to be looked upon as, to say the least, sympathetic to terrorism.

What was gained from the campaign, both civil and military? Analysts are saying, “Nothing gained.” Says a report:

“Nearly 20 years after the United States’ invasion of Afghanistan, the cost of its global war on terror stands at $8 trillion and 900,000 deaths, according to a new report from the Costs of War project at Brown University.”

Others are informing the public about the increasing unemployment that targets certain sections of the masses, negligence of the old, loss of health care to many, dwindling of funding for social causes and so on. A stupendous rise in armed murders, general crime, and rape. A girl was raped in bright day-light in an alley, yet another was raped in a grave-yard, while a third … These are all recent crimes within a week or two.

Let that be. But for us, the damage has been something irreparable and irredeemable. It is loss of trust. The people have not only lost trust in their ruling parties, but also in the media that they guide and control.The government was concentrating on eradicating a false allegation. Best attention, efforts and public funds have gone into that. But that enemy was no more than Don Quixote’s adventure with the Wind Mill. If the Don fractured his limbs, it was reparable. But this present loss, is greater and unsalvageable. It is the intellectual class which understands this. But the gone is gone. It cannot be restored. It was the animosity which was the root cause.

The same drama is unfolding itself in a few other countries. The government has taken over from the Americans the campaign against terror and terrorism for reasons of their own. Raids, interrogations, harassments, and imprisoning goes on in full swing. They are equally aware that to identify Muslims as sleeping cells of terrorists, is not justified. But, for the moment, they have no other pretext for – the undeclared policy: persecution. They will also pay the price: the people and the nation. Loss of trust is gaining ground. But, due to the specific situation, there will be other repercussions; other fall outs will follow.

Should anyone want to listen?