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The West must be honest about Hong Kong chaos

CGTN | Updated: 2019-11-19 09:34

Mobs vandalize a restaurant inside a shopping mall in Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong, China, November 10, 2019. /Reuters Photo

Editor's note: Tom Fowdy is a British political and international relations analyst and a graduate of Durham and Oxford universities. He writes on topics pertaining to China, the DPRK, Britain and the United States. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

November 11 saw one of the most violent days in Hong Kong since the outbreak of protests in the summer. As activists sought to impose a self-declared and illegitimate "general strike" upon the city, destruction ensured. An activist was shot after trying to steal a policeman's gun, whilst during the afternoon a man was doused in flammable liquid and set on fire for purely arguing with protesters for saying Hong Kong is China.

Inevitably, the Western media proceeded to cover the day with a selective version of events tailored to the worn narrative of blaming the police.

Enough is enough. The world must see events in Hong Kong for how they really are. The Western media are articulating a selective "false consciousness" of events to their audiences which places ideology above the truth. This is not a benevolent, optimistic and forward thinking of movement battling oppression, but it is an irrational, hate-fueled, and unrestrained stampede of mob violence which destroys and attacks everything in its path.

Hong Kong police have a duty and responsibility to uphold order, stability, and the rule of law in the city, those who oppose them are threatening of all these things. Stopping them is not synonymous with a suppression of freedom of assembly or deprivation of individual rights. Thus it's time to stop demonizing the police accordingly, and focus on the provocateurs for who they are and what they are doing.

What is a false consciousness? If we define "consciousness" to be the active mechanism as to how we see, view and experience the world around us, thus an individual's comprehension of what "reality" is, then "false consciousness" is an understanding of the world, of which fabricated by another, disconnects us from empirical reality, without one realizing it. In essence, "false consciousness" is an active distortion of the truth which one believes to be real.

As we rely upon media to construct, interact with and understand the wider world, news organizations have great power in defining what becomes a part of our reality and what does not. By selecting which stories are important and not important, which facts should be known and not known, the mainstream media thus have the power to define and shape public consciousness accordingly.

How does this connect to Hong Kong? How the mainstream media project events in the city to mainstream audiences is rendered in some ways, a false consciousness. How so? It is selective, ideological and over amplified. Reporting focuses almost extensively on a one-sided, sensationalist narrative of police brutality, failing to place the actions of the police within the context they occur, i.e as a response to violence and wholesale rioting in many instances.

The narrative therein becomes selective as it ignores the fact such riot response mechanisms are identical to that of Western countries, wherein such disorder would be widely condemned and not tolerated. In turn, reporting has also ignored much more brutal oppression of protesters around the world.

Iraqi security forces in Baghdad have shot dead hundreds of people, but one doesn't hear much about that as there is no political and ideological agenda behind it. Yet if a Hong Kong policeman shoots a protester who tried to steal his weapon, it becomes a leading story. It is worth mentioning on that note, he did not pass away, and nobody in the city has died at the hands of the police force.

In this case, one has to look beyond the media articulated "false consciousness" to see these events in context, as they really are. A core of Hong Kong protesters in reality are pursuing unrestrained violence against everyone and everything that gets in their way. The scene of demonstrators setting a man on fire on December 11 was a clear rendition that this is simply not the so called progressive movement that the Western media have persistently insisted that it is.

In this light, it is a deception to say that the response of law enforcement to tackle this kind of behavior is somehow a form of oppression. There is a vast difference between upholding law and order, and removing one's freedom of assembly. Individual rights do not give people a right to pursue relentless and unbridled violence.

In this case, the world must wake up to what is really going on in Hong Kong. The mainstream media have failed to offer an objective rendition of events and have persistently glorified a movement that now shows no limitations to its savage behavior. As the city burns and its economy tumbles, it is opportunistic and disingenuous to be scapegoating the police.

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