Rabble-roused mob-A A +A
Wednesday, January 9, 2013
RWANDA at the close of the 20th century was backward, with a big chunk of the country lacking in electricity. Information was thus disseminated through radio sets, ownership of which the government encouraged. In 1994, the Hutus launched a genocide campaign against its moderate sector and the minority Tutsis. The trigger was the shooting down of the plane that ferried then Rwanda president Jovenal Habyarimana.
A British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC) story on Dec. 3, 2003 noted the role of “hate media” in the killings. It fomented hatred and killings and encouraged listeners to go on killing once the genocide began.
The most popular radio station then was Radio Television des Milles Collines (RTLM or Thousand Hills Radio Television). Within minutes of the crash, according to the article “Incitement to Genocide” by Collete Braeckman (crimesofwar.org), RTLM journalists accused Belgian troops, who were in Rwanda for a peacekeeping mission, of shooting down the plane. The next morning, ten Belgian soldiers were killed. UN forces withdrew.
“You have to kill (the Tutsis), they are cockroaches,” a transcript of RTLM’s broadcast in April 7 and 8, 1994 said.
Its May 13 broadcast: “All those who are listening to us, arise so that we can all fight for our Rwanda…Fight with the weapons you have at your disposal, those of you who have arrows, with arrows, those of you who have spears with spears…Take your traditional tools…We must all fight (the Tutsis); we must finish with them, exterminate them, sweep them from the whole country…There must be no refuge for them, none at all.”
July 2: “I do not know whether God will help us exterminate (the Tutsis)…but we must rise up to exterminate this race of bad people…They must be exterminated because there is no other way.”
By July 1994, when the Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front put an end to the genocide, an estimated 800,000 moderate Hutus and Tutsis had been slaughtered. Gen. Romeo Dallaire, then the head of the UN peacekeeping operation in Rwanda, was quoted by BBC as saying: "Simply jamming (the) broadcasts and replacing them with messages of peace and reconciliation would have had a significant impact on the course of events."
I am recalling the sordid experience in Rwanda to illustrate the dangers that “hate media” pose on a community. In Rwanda, the word “media” in “hate media” basically referred to radio stations. In modern times, that includes other forms of traditional media and the so-called social media, where spreading hate instead of encouraging a sober and intellectual discussion of issues often seems to be the practice also.
In Cebu, shades of hate media can be seen in some opinion makers’ treatment of the case of Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia. The by-product is an audience that, like the extremist Hutus in Rwanda, easily pounces with a vengeance on those that do not tread their viewpoints. Today, what are being hurled are insults. One does not know what will be used as the hatred being fomented reaches a boiling point.
On this, I long for the day when radio commentaries were dominated by the likes of Talyux Bacalso, Migs Enriquez, Inday Nita Daluz and to a certain extent Cerge Remonde.
They belong to a period when issues were discussed intelligently and not through bombast and mockery. They thus developed a sober and intelligent audience, not a rabble-roused mob.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 09, 2013.