Medium Matters

By Jim Dagg

The Neffati piece focuses on print journalism and specifically the editorial reign of Philippe Val at Charlie Hebdo. This is old media at its richest: Charlie Hebdo had a loud voice in France and an engaged readership. During the Second Intifada in late 2000, Val engaged in a public debate via sequential weekly columns with other Charlie Hebdo journalists. It concerned the left’s support for Palestinians against Israel. Val received an “abundance of angry letters” (how clunky is that?!) from his readers due to his Islamophobic stance. Did his work aid populist villainization of Muslim immigrants? Not directly: the medium uses too many words and too much subtlety.

In the Doerr piece, we see the (right-wing) Swiss People’s Party’s use of a cartoon with white and black sheep to promote deportation of immigrants who commit crimes. This cartoon was important because it was adopted and applied by right-wing operators “across Western Europe”. These groups felt they were engaged in a transnational community of like organizations. This use of “visual communication” was powerful and re-usable: its full message could be understood easily by a mass of people.

The Ozcetin article introduces a multi-season TV show built to spread the government’s message on Turkish pride. A perceived slight of the show at an awards ceremony by “cultural elites” was seized on to make the populist message even stronger. Television is the insidious medium: a long-running show can bend the cultural fabric over time, establishing a new reality for the masses.

Finally, the Strick article, separate from its bewildering definition of fascisms as based on reaction to developments (isn’t that just regular – admittedly reactionary – politics?), introduces us to memes used by far-right actors. Similar to the sheep cartoons above, these are easy to create and share broadly; and they can deliver powerful messages. As internet memes these can go viral and be seen by huge numbers of people, beginning with radicals, and spreading to the potentially radical-izables.

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