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Fareed Zakaria says huge focus on Russian invasion is NOT ‘because Ukrainians are white or European’

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CNN host Fareed Zakaria says the flurry of media coverage on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has nothing to do with Ukrainians’ race or ethnicity, as pundits and media experts continue to criticize the tone of some of the reporting around the conflict.

‘I mean, to put it directly to people who think about this and they say, “Why Ukrainians being – why do we pay so much attention, is it just because they’re white?” 

‘No, it is not because Ukrainians are white or European. It’s because their aggressor, their invader is a nuclear-armed superpower. That’s the danger,’ Zakaria told fellow CNN anchor Don Lemon over the weekend.  

‘If Russia can get away with this, it can get away with invading Poland, it can get away with invading the Baltic states,’ he added. ‘China can get away with invading Taiwan. You essentially tear up the rule book of international relations.’

Media pundits like Nikole Hannah-Jones of the 1619 project and groups like the Arab and Middle Eastern Journalists Association have criticized the wall-to-wall media coverage on the invasion in eastern Europe as compared to more brief glimpses at other conflicts around the world.

They have also denounced coverage that paints scenes of war and destruction in Europe as inconceivable compared to similar scenes in the Middle East or Africa. 

CNN host Fareed Zakaria said the flurry of media coverage on Russia's invasion of Ukraine has nothing to do with Ukrainians being white or European in an appearance on Don Lemon's show over the weekend

CNN host Fareed Zakaria said the flurry of media coverage on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has nothing to do with Ukrainians being white or European in an appearance on Don Lemon’s show over the weekend

Groups like the Arab and Middle Eastern Journalists Association have criticized the tone of Ukraine coverage, offering examples of racism or bias in coverage

Groups like the Arab and Middle Eastern Journalists Association have criticized the tone of Ukraine coverage, offering examples of racism or bias in coverage

Nikole Hannah-Jones, New York Times reporter and creator of the 1619 Project, accused the media of depicting 'insidious racism' in its coverage of Russia's invasion of Ukraine

Nikole Hannah-Jones, New York Times reporter and creator of the 1619 Project, accused the media of depicting ‘insidious racism’ in its coverage of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

Zakaria dismissed those complaints and emphasized the implications of a Russian takeover of a free, democratic country.

‘I would say I think that the American people would understand that what you have here is a superpower aggressor with nuclear weapons threatening to tear up the international order, threatening to essentially tear up the rule book, annex another country, alter borders by force,’ he said, according to Mediaite. 

‘This is all historic stuff. You know? This is stuff we will be writing about in the history books for decades to come, centuries to come.’

Lemon then asked about the particular focus on this specific conflict.

‘I was talking to former secretary William Cohen, who said he believes that Americans should know, people should know that we have to sacrifice in these moments because democracy, freedom, they’re all at stake right now,’ Lemon said.

‘But there are people who say, “Why this conflict? There are conflicts, skirmishes all over the world, why is this one so much different? Why are we involved? Why should we upend our lives, the price of our gas, and so on?” You understand what I’m saying.’

‘Right. I totally understand,’ Zakaria replied. ‘Here is the simplest way to understand it: A skirmish that takes place between two small countries in Africa or the Middle East, Latin America, they don’t threaten to up-end the international system.’

Fakaria hosts Fareed Zakaria GPS, a weekly Sunday show on CNN focused on foreign affairs.

The author, who was born in India to a Muslim family, graduated from Yale University in 1986 and received a PhD in government from Harvard in 1993.

He went on to highlight the danger that Russia poses to the West if it were to successfully annex Ukraine. 

Zakaria says the focus is due to Russia's status as a nuclear-armed country with a veto in the UN Security Council. Above, a resident on Monday uses a dustpan and a broom to clear debris from a room in a building damaged by a Russian missile explosion in Kramatorsk on Sunday

Zakaria says the focus is due to Russia’s status as a nuclear-armed country with a veto in the UN Security Council. Above, a resident on Monday uses a dustpan and a broom to clear debris from a room in a building damaged by a Russian missile explosion in Kramatorsk on Sunday

'This is all historic stuff. You know? This is stuff we will be writing about in the history books for decades to come, centuries to come,' Zakaria told Lemon, his network colleague

‘This is all historic stuff. You know? This is stuff we will be writing about in the history books for decades to come, centuries to come,’ Zakaria told Lemon, his network colleague

‘When you have a nuclear power, the largest nuclear power in the world – Russia has more nuclear weapons than the United States – a great power with a veto in the security council, when it threatens its neighbor what you are reverting to is a pattern of great power politics that is more reminiscent of the age of Hitler and Mussolini, more reminiscent of 19th century Europe where the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must, that is a very different world than we’ve lived in for the last 70 years and certainly ever since the end of the Cold War,’ he said. 

In the first days of the invasion, the Arab and Middle Eastern Journalists Association called on ‘all news organizations to be mindful of implicit and explicit bias in their coverage of war in Ukraine.’

In a press release, the organization cited numerous instances of insensitivity or bias in coverage of the invasion.

One example read: ‘On Feb. 26, during a CBS News segment, correspondent Charlie D’Agata commented: “But this isn’t a place, with all due respect, like Iraq or Afghanistan, that has seen conflict raging for decades. This is a relatively civilized, relatively European –  I have to choose those words carefully, too – city, one where you wouldn’t expect that, or hope that it’s going to happen.'”

Another example read: ‘Daniel Hannan, of The Telegraph wrote: “They seem so like us. That is what makes it so shocking. War is no longer something visited upon impoverished and remote populations. It can happen to anyone.”‘  

On February 27, New York Times reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones tweeted that reporters should ‘really, really look internally’ when covering Ukraine.

Hannah-Jones made her allegations in a string of tweets published on February 27

Hannah-Jones made her allegations in a string of tweets published on February 27

‘This is why I say we should stop pretending we have objectivity and in instead acknowledge our biases so that we can report against them. Many of us see the racialized analysis and language.’

In a separate tweet, she added: ‘And honestly, these admissions of shock that this is happening in a European country are ahistorical and also serve to justify the lack of sympathy for other invasions, other occupations and other refugee crisis involving peoples not considered white.’  

Over the weekend, the mass of fleeing civilians took up every inch of space at Kharkiv station – all desperate for a place on the train out of hell.

Mothers and families, the young and the old, they would have filled the ten-carriage service several times over.

The scene at Kharkiv is playing out all over Ukraine as thousands try to flee Russia’s barbaric onslaught.

Yesterday, the Kremlin offered for a third time in as many days to open ‘humanitarian corridors’ and let civilians leave major cities during a limited cease-fire.

The mass of fleeing civilians took up every inch of space at Kharkiv station ¿ all desperate for a place on the train out of hell

The mass of fleeing civilians took up every inch of space at Kharkiv station – all desperate for a place on the train out of hell

Moscow announced the proposed escape routes yesterday after Putin and Emmanuel Macron spoke by telephone on Sunday night, with the Kremlin saying the move was taken after a ¿personal request¿ by the French president

Moscow announced the proposed escape routes yesterday after Putin and Emmanuel Macron spoke by telephone on Sunday night, with the Kremlin saying the move was taken after a ‘personal request’ by the French president

Russia yesterday morning offered six routes to allow civilians to leave Mariupol, Kharkiv, Sumy and the capital Kyiv

Russia yesterday morning offered six routes to allow civilians to leave Mariupol, Kharkiv, Sumy and the capital Kyiv

But its words were exposed as a cynical stunt when it emerged some of the routes would lead Ukrainians straight to Russia, the very country behind all the death and destruction. The plan was dismissed as ‘immoral and unacceptable’ by Ukraine and as ‘nonsense’ by Britain’s Europe minister, James Cleverly.

One supposedly safe passage out of the besieged southern port city of Mariupol went straight through a minefield.

Russia yesterday morning offered six routes to allow civilians to leave Mariupol, Kharkiv, Sumy and the capital Kyiv.

But Vladimir Putin’s forces continued to pummel some cities with rockets even after the announcement, while fierce fighting raged in many places, indicating there would be no wider cessation of hostilities. Around 2,000 people have managed to get out of the town of Irpin, near Kyiv, police said on Monday.  

On Monday, Vice President Kamala Harris and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg pushed a transition to green energy and electric cars as Americans face record high prices at the pump.

As gas costs soar and more workers are returning to the office as covid numbers fall, President Joe Biden’s administration announced a $3.7 billion boost for public transportation, including an investment in new fleets of electric buses.

Vice President Kamala Harris announced the Biden administration's push transition to green energy and electric cars

Vice President Kamala Harris announced the Biden administration’s push transition to green energy and electric cars

Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, with Vice President Kamala Harris, talked about environmental benefits of electric vehicles but didn't mention rising gas prices

Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, with Vice President Kamala Harris, talked about environmental benefits of electric vehicles but didn’t mention rising gas prices

Prior to the 2008 recession a barrel of crude oil hit $150. We are well on our way to reaching and potentially exceeding that crisis mark endangering the entire economy. (The chart above shows Stephen Schork's projection for retail gas prices in the summer of 2022, which approach levels that have previously proceeded recessions)

Prior to the 2008 recession a barrel of crude oil hit $150. We are well on our way to reaching and potentially exceeding that crisis mark endangering the entire economy. (The chart above shows Stephen Schork’s projection for retail gas prices in the summer of 2022, which approach levels that have previously proceeded recessions)

‘We are all in the midst of a turning point. We have the technologies to transition to a zero emission fleet,’ Harris said during the announcement. ‘We can address the climate crisis and grow our economy at the same time.’ 

Buttigieg also stressed how the money would help the environment.

‘Transit gets riders where they need to be efficiently and affordably with far less pollution to thrive. And it’s even good for drivers of cars, because it means less congestion and traffic on our roads. And transit is even better when it’s clean transit with modern electric buses that don’t pollute at all,’ he said.

Neither official mentioned gas prices: AAA reported Sunday that the national average for a gallon of gas hit $4.009 — the highest since 2008. On Monday, the average price hit $4.10 a gallon, according to GasBuddy.

Also a factor is cost: The average transaction price for an electric vehicle (EV) is $56,437, according to Kelley Blue Book, which is about $10,000 higher than the overall industry average for a vehicle. 

Republicans were quick to criticize with one lawmaker from the oil-rich state of Oklahoma calling Harris and Buttigieg ‘tone deaf.’

‘Vice President Kamala Harris and DOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg spent the afternoon promoting electric vehicles and Green New Deal policies. Are you kidding me? The Biden Administration could not be more tone deaf,’ said Rep. Markwayne Mullin.  

Meanwhile, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Monday that President Biden is doing ‘everything he can to reduce the impact’ of gas prices on the American people.

She blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin for the high numbers at the pump.

‘What is also true, is that because of the actions of President Putin, because he invaded a sovereign country that created instability in the markets, that is something the President talked about even before Russia and President Putin move forward with their actions,’ she noted.





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