Excerpts from a speech by Malcolm X on
Freedom of the Press
Malcolm X condemned the Western Media for its lies and double standard when it came to reporting on Africa. He particularly criticized the American Press for lying about US and UN intervention in the Congo in 1960s. We reprint some part of his speech on Western Media below.
But again, the press is used to make the victim look like the criminal and make the criminal look like the victim. This is imagery. And just as this imagery is practiced at the local level, you can understand it better by an international example. The best recent example at the international level to bear witness to what I'm saying is what happened in the Congo. Look at what happened. We had a situation where a plane was dropping bombs on African villages. An African village has no defense against the bombs. And an African village is not a sufficient threat that it has to be bombed! But planes were dropping bombs on African villages. When these bombs strike, they don't distinguish between male and female.
When these bombs are dropped on African villages in the Congo, they are dropped on Black women, Black children, Black babies. These human beings were blown to bits. I heard no outcry, no voice of compassion for these thousands of Black people who were slaughtered by planes. [Applause] Why was there no outcry? Why was there no concern? Because, again, the press very skillfully made the victims look like they were the criminals, and the criminals look like they were the victims. [Applause]
They refer to the villages as "rebel held" you know. As if to say, because they are rebel-held villages, you can destroy the population, and it's okay. They also refer to the merchants of death as "American-trained, anti-Castro Cuban pilots." This made it okay. Because these pilots, these mercenaries -- you know what a mercenary is, he's not a patriot. A mercenary is not someone who goes to war out of patriotism for his country. A mercenary is a hired killer. A person who kills, who draws blood for money, anybody's blood. You kill a human being as easily as you kill a cat or a dog or a chicken.
So these mercenaries, dropping bombs on African villages, caring nothing as to whether or not there are innocent, defenseless women and children and babies being destroyed by their bombs. But because they're called "mercenaries," given a glorified name, it doesn't excite you. Because they are referred to as "American-trained" pilots, because they are American-trained, that makes them okay. "Anti-Castro Cubans," that makes them okay. Castro's a monster, so anybody who's against Castro is all right with us, and anything they can do from there, that's all right with us.. They put your mind right in a bag and take it wherever they want, as well. [Applause]
But it's something that you have to look at and answer for. Because they are American planes, American bombs, escorted by American paratroopers, armed with machine guns. But, you know, they say they're not soldiers, they're advisers in South Vietnam. Twenty thousand of them -- just advisers. These are just "escorts." They're able to do all of these mass murder and get away with it by labeling it "humanitarian" an act of humanitarianism. Or "in the name of freedom," "in the name of liberty." All kinds of high-soundings slogans, but it's cold-blooded murder, mass murder. And it's done so skillfully, so you and I, who call ourselves sophisticated in this twentieth century, are able to watch it, and put the stamp of approval upon it. Simply because it's being done to people with black skin, by people with white skin.
They take a man who is a cold-blooded murderer, named [Moise] Tshombe. You've heard of him, Uncle Tom Tshombe. [Laughter and applause] He murdered the prime minister, the rightful prime minister, [Patrice] Lumumba. He murdered him. [Applause] Now here's a man who's an international murderer, selected by the State Department and placed over the Congo and propped into position by your tax dollars. He's a killer. He's hired by our government. He's a hired killer. And to show the type of hired killer he is, as soon as he's in office, he hires more killers in South Africa to shoot down his own people. And you wonder why your American image aboard is so bankrupt.
Notice I said, "Your American image abroad is so bankrupt." They make this man acceptable by saying in the press that he's the only one that can unite the Congo. Ha. [That's laughable.] A murderer. They won't let China in United Nations because they say she declared war on UN troops in Korea. Tshombe declared war on UN troops in Katanga. You give him money and prop him up. You don't use the same yardstick. You use the yardstick over here, change it over here.
This is true -- everybody can see you today. You make yourself look sick in the sight of the world trying to fool people that you were at least once wise with your trickery. But today your bag of tricks have absolutely run out [ended]. The whole world can see what you're doing.
The press whips up hysteria in the white public. Then it shifts gears [changes directions] and starts working trying to get sympathy of the white public. And then it shifts gears and gets the white public to support whatever criminal action they're getting ready to involve the United States in. Remember how they referred to the hostages as "white hostages." Not "hostages." They said these "cannibals" in the Congo had "white hostage." Oh, and this got you all shook up [scared]. White nuns, white priests, white missionaries. What's the difference between a white life and a Black life? You must think there's a difference, because your press specifies whiteness. "Nineteen white hostages" cause you to grieve in your heart. [Laughter and applause]
During the months when bombs were being dropped on Black people by the hundreds and the thousands, you said nothing. And you did nothing. But as soon as a few -- a handful of white people who didn't have any business getting caught up in that thing in the first place -- [Laughter and applause] as soon as their lives became involved, you go concerned.
I was in Africa during the summer when they -- when the mercenaries and the pilots were shooting down Black people in the Congo like flies. It wouldn't even get mentioned in the Western press. It wasn't mentioned. If it was mentioned, it was mentioned in the classified section of the newspaper. Someplace where you'd need a microscope to find it.
And at that time the African brothers, at first they weren't taking hostages. They only began to take hostages when they found that these pilots were bombing their villages. And then they took hostages, moved them into the village, and warned the pilots that if you drop bombs on the village, you'll hit your own people. It was a war maneuver. They were at war. They only held a hostage in a village to keep the mercenaries from murdering on a mass scale the people of those villages. They weren't keeping them as hostages because they were cannibals. Or because they thought their flesh was tasty. Some of those missionaries had been over there for forty years and didn't get eaten up. [Laughter and applause] If they were going to eat them they would have eaten them when they were young and tender. [Laughter and applause] Why you can't even digest that old white meat on an old chicken. [Laughter]
It's imagery. They use their ability to create images, and then they use these images that they've created to mislead the people. To confuse the people and make the people accept wrong as right and reject right as wrong. Make people actually think that the criminal is the victim and the victim is the criminal.
President Nelson Mandela has said: "The media uses the democratic order, brought about by the enormous sacrifices of our own people as an instrument to protect the legacy of racism, graphically described by it's own patterns of ownership, editorial control, value system and advertisers influences"