How the media radicalizes movements
Views 21 | Time to read: 3 minutes | Uploaded: 2 - 14 - 2019 | By: Carly Matthews
In the polarized political atmosphere of the United States, it is important to remember to do your research, especially when it comes to movements. Movements (in this article, defined as any group of people working toward a common interest or goal for a political or social reason) are based on a main concept, and through time, members of the movement, as well as those opposed to it, change it to fit certain needs and criteria.
The best way to explain this is to share a brief history of a few movements and organizations. What do you think of when you read the word feminism? What about gun control? The NRA? Planned Parenthood? For each of these words, you have a reaction, whether good or bad; most likely this reaction is not based on the main goal of the organization or movement, but, rather, what vocal advocates and opponents have said about it, skewed with their own biases.
The NRA was created to teach people how to use rifles and to educate people on the importance of the Second Amendment. Now, however, it is synonymous with the alt-right advocating for the right to own automatic, military-grade weapons. Feminism was about equal opportunity for men and women, but now it is seen as men-hating “feminazis.” Planned Parenthood was about letting women be in control of whether or not they want to get pregnant and evolved to be a healthcare provider specializing in women’s health. It is now, apparently, hell-bent on making women have abortions.
News companies often make a profit off the most eye-catching story. They know that the nation is harshly divided and want to make the most out of it. They are looking for a reaction from their viewers, whether for or against them, in order to make money. While this is immoral, it is what makes the news “interesting” and often more controversial in the process.
They promote stories that talk about the most radical forms of a movement because those are the people doing radical things. The fanatics are the ones who evoke emotion, whether their message is stating the movement’s goal or not. Because the public is only seeing the most extreme, twisted form of an organization or movement, they tend to believe that it is the norm. For example, whenever Trump says something that can be taken as incredibly controversial, you will see countless articles trying to explain what he meant; when a protest happens outside Planned parenthood, the news will choose a more militant and extreme member of the pro-life side. When the opposition party says that all women hate men, or that the government wants your guns, it is because they are promoting their own agenda, and want you to buy into it. If you do a little more research on any of the topics they talk about, however, you realize that a lot of soundbites and quotes are taken drastically out of context, and often don’t have to do with the mission of an organization at all.
With the combination of news outlets only focusing on radicals, and opposition antagonizing organizations, the public often gets a distorted, almost evil view of the movement in question. We owe it to ourselves, if we really want to be informed about what is going on in our country and our world, to look a little deeper into what people are saying; and to make the decision for ourselves.