Photo of water droplets falling of a branch of green leaves against a green background.
On Feb 28th, 2022 the IPCC warned: “Any further delay in concerted global action will miss a brief and rapidly closing window to secure a liveable future.” Credit: Goutham Krishna / Unsplash

The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either — but right through every human heart.”

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

In 2019 Greta Thunberg, in reference to world leaders assertions to understanding the urgency of the climate crisis, stated: “I do not want to believe that.  Because if you really understood the situation and still kept on failing to act, then you would be evil.” 

On Feb 28th, 2022 the IPCC warned “Any further delay in concerted global action will miss a brief and rapidly closing window to secure a liveable future.” Thunberg, like the majority of us, would like to believe that however bad our (the West’s) actions/inactions may be, surely they are not evil. And we – not monsters. 

Terms like collateral damage, miscalculations, mistakes, and other exculpatory language, regularly and deliberately used by western media and politicians, obfuscate the gravity of our crimes, and reinforce the public’s belief in western benevolence and exceptionalism. 

The 2015 US bombing of an MSF (Médecins Sans Frontières or Doctors Without Borders) hospital, which MSF called a war crime under the Geneva conventions and which killed 42 people educed no western outrage of the kind afforded the recent Russian bombing of a maternity ward.  

President Obama’s apology to MSF calling it a “mistake” and “tragic accident” was readily accepted by a compliant establishment media. Simultaneously, the wholesale and relentless condemnation of official enemies, with a language antithetical to that used when covering western wars, affirms for us the idea that ‘they/their actions’ are criminal and ‘we/ours’ are not.  

Western war crimes and support for others who perpetrate them, much of it revealed by WikiLeaks in a treasure trove of official government documents, has provoked scant condemnation.  For his journalism, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange continues to rot in prison, psychologically tortured and destroyed according to leading human rights expert Nils Melzer, awaiting extradition to the united states where he faces up to 175 years in prison. 

Dissident journalists in Russia are celebrated, in the west they are treated as criminals, shunned by their peers and hidden away from the public eye should their case raise uncomfortable questions.     

Voices that question state/corporate propaganda are more important than ever.  Pulitzer prize winning journalists Glenn Greenwald and Chris Hedges and many others who challenge dominant western narratives are completely shut out of mainstream discourse.  The imposition of a NATO no fly zone, an act that would bring into direct conflict 2 nuclear powers, is casually offered as a reasonable response to Russian aggression.  

Seeking diplomacy by acknowledging Russian concerns over NATO expansion, concerns long known and expressed by senior western officials and diplomats, is Russian propaganda.

Depriving the public of important content and context that call into question the West’s role in the multiple global crises we face and their commitment to a higher ethical standard than that of our enemies, is censorship by omission.   

Simplistic and one sided media coverage of complicated issues born out of decades of cold war struggles and the pursuit of global hegemony and the control of important resources, is dangerous. 

Our single minded focus on the evil of others deflects attention from a genocidal/ecocidal economic system, and the people that will stop at nothing to maintain it, that for centuries has treated the planet and the majority of its inhabitants as little more than expendable resources to be conquered and exploited.  

This piece originally appeared in print, in the Low Down, a local newspaper in Wakefield, QC.

Vagner Castilho

Vagner Castilho is a teacher, activist, homesteader and writer. He is co-founder of the La Pêche Coalition for a Green New Deal. Vagner is currently taking a break from teaching to dedicate time to raising...