What’s to Fear?
This article does not represent teachers or UN Youth Australia as a whole – this is simply an interpretation by one of our fantastic facilitators in hope to create ideas and increased dialogue surrounding this topic.
Fearmongering: ‘The deliberate construction and spreading of fear by institutionalised groups to achieve specific goals or cultural impacts.’
In my university endeavours, I needed to search the phrase ‘Sudanese’. To my disappointment, the highest searched result was ‘Sudanese gangs’, in reference to violent gangs of Sudanese youth in Victoria. Only after that was ‘Sudanese people’, ‘culture’ and ‘food’.
Interestingly, in 2017 Sudanese people committed only 1% of crimes in Victoria. Their crime rate is less than Indians, British, New Zealanders, Vietnamese and of course, Australians (According to the RMIT). This diproportionate gap is large enough to show a level of fearmongering in media, especially since Sunday Night decided to do a special on the matter of ‘Violent Sudanese Gangs’.
According to Sudanese community leader, Nyadol Nyuon “A lot of the black African community, don’t have the proximity to whiteness like [other European ethnic groups]”. She’s right; this makes them stand out in media and gives Sunday Night something to create a fear-based segment on.
So why is fearmongering a bad thing? Ultimately it causes a false sense of panic and throws off what should be an accurate portrayal of Australia.
Although media companies are ideally customer-centric, the blatant hypocrisy and exploitation of their consumers for profit is abundant among media organisations such as Seven West Media, who, in their values state that “we always think and act with our customers in mind”. I would like to see media consumption achieve a level where Australians passively ignore fearmongering and only respond to ethical forms of journalism and media production. Although society proves that this is difficult to do: the only thing you should fear is fear itself.