Western Media Coverage of Macedonia Perpetuates Hate​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

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Flag_of_Macedonia.svg
Flag_of_Macedonia.svg

A drunk driver runs a red light and slams into a crowd of pedestrians, gravely injuring several. If this happened in Macedonia, the headline in Western media would be: “Pedestrians Cause Car Accident, Major Damage to Vehicle”.

Imagine that every headline and news story about your ethnic group is rife with misinformation and designed to eradicate the existence of your ethnic identity.

But why?

Because Macedonia’s oppressors demand it, and Western countries choose to support them for the benefit of their own imperialist foreign policies.

Specifically, Greece and Bulgaria pledged to veto Macedonia’s Western-imposed NATO and EU membership bids unless its name was changed to the highly offensive “North Macedonia” and the identity and history of all Macedonians were changed to suit these countries’ publicly pursued and celebrated policies that Macedonians “don’t exist”.

But human rights and decency never stood in the way of the West’s foreign policy goals.

So, in order to impose its foreign policy and attempt to mask its blatant interventionism, the United States funds a multitude of media outlets and “think tanks” to spin news stories to favour US policy du jour (blindly followed by the EU and the rest of NATO) — and always at the expense of someone.

Macedonia is clearly one of the USA’s “favourite” targets. I am personally too, for exposing US illegal, interventionist and anti-Macedonian policy and actions in Macedonia. The retaliatory actions taken against me include being banned from entering the United States as per an executive order by Joe Biden, being the subject of several libelous articles, and being slandered by the US-backed Macedonia regime’s foreign minister in a recent press conference. (Don’t worry, they’re the subject of lawsuits for defamation brought by me and Macedonian Human Rights Movement International.)

But today, I want to focus on those, the media in particular, who are (possibly) inadvertently ignorant. While their goal might not be to explicitly aid in the eradication of Macedonians’ ethnic identity and basic human rights, their blind obedience of US foreign policy ensures that this is the result. Add these media outlets to the aforementioned, and you get the overwhelming majority, if not all, of Western media.

Case in point: A recurring nightmare, I mean, headline that Macedonians were subjected to in reference to events earlier this year was “North Macedonia: 47 Police Officers Injured in Protests”. A few, among pages and pages of examples, can be found here, here, and here.

Of course, a choice was made to use the most offensive term possible for a Macedonian, and that is “North Macedonia” (or “North Macedonian”), ignoring the fact that the name change was illegally and brutally imposed on Macedonians with severe consequences for dissenting or even expressing one’s own Macedonian identity…but more on that later.

What actually happened at the protests? Police officers attacked protesters. Now you can see the “inspiration” for the headline in the first paragraph…

I’ll repeat, police officers attacked protesters. Imagine reading news about the ongoing protests in Iran and media coverage favouring the riot police. The sheer number of Macedonians, caught on video, being publicly beaten, threatened, and arrested is mind-boggling, but no, Western media supports the oppressor.

It makes Macedonians wonder: “Why does Western media hate us?”

To the media outlets that chose to run this story (you can mix and match any Western one as their coverage of Macedonia is almost identical), would you care to explain why? Publicly, you won’t. But many of you have, privately, in my meetings with you. And you admitted that you regurgitate news from the “big boys” on the wire. Well, big Associated Press and big Reuters almost exclusively use reporters from Greece to report on Macedonia. Alarm bells ring…are you listening? Let’s use an analogy — if Country B admits to trying to eradicate Country A, then a responsible news organization would not use journalists from Country B to report on Country A.

And, when reporting on the so-called “Macedonia name dispute” (our name and identity is not a dispute, it is who we are) and subsequent forced Macedonia name change, responsible news organizations would not laud an imposed treaty designed to eradicate an ethnic group, and they wouldn’t ignore its illegality (violations of international and Macedonian law; the Macedonian constitution and parliamentary rules, the UN charter and multiple international human rights conventions, and the act that sent shockwaves throughout Macedonia and should have been headline news in the West — US Ambassador Jess Baily and members of the regime holding female opposition MPs in parliamentary chambers against their will, blackmailing and threatening them and their family members with imprisonment until they followed orders to vote to change Macedonia’s name.)

Silence from Western media.

They also ignored further brutality (imprisonment of dissenters; riot police attacking, beating and arresting peaceful protesters; firing of thousands of Macedonians from public and private sector jobs; shutting down media and imposing prison sentences for journalists; blocking social media access for individuals and media outlets; outlawing and criminalizing the use of the term “Macedonia”; the investigation and intimidation of Macedonian civilians including physical attacks and arson; and the continued unlawful detention of Macedonian political prisoners on who are subject to abhorrent prison conditions — imprisoned on blatantly trumped-up charges, no less.)

But Western media report what the United States dictates. When Saudi human rights activists get imprisoned on bogus charges, the regime is exposed. But when it happens in Macedonia, the regime is enabled.

Responsible news organizations would also not regurgitate headlines or focus entire news stories containing the following sentiment, that also permeated throughout Western media: “Macedonian Nationalists Oppose Name Change Deal with Greece”. But a few examples again, among an infinite supply, can be found here, here, and here.

This refers to the “Prespa Agreement” (that no Macedonian agreed to and which was overwhelmingly rejected in a referendum), that forcibly changes Macedonia’s name to “North Macedonia”, with Article 7(2) officially handing over the term “Macedonia” to Greece and renders all Macedonians, in particular the entire Macedonian population in Aegean Macedonia (annexed by Greece in 1913) as non-existent, and with Article 8(5) mandating that a panel of Greek diplomats rewrite Macedonian history and that Macedonian textbooks be rewritten to officially remove any trace of our existence.

Wouldn’t you be opposed to this “deal” too?

This didn’t matter to the media. They dehumanized Macedonians instead and demonized us for wanting to exist. Imagine Western media referring to Uyghurs as “nationalists” for being opposed to cultural genocide.

Seeing Greece’s success in galvanizing Western support in their Macedonian-eradication campaign, Bulgaria ramped-up its own notorious anti-Macedonian policy and demanded: that Macedonians officially be declared as “non-existent” and “really Bulgarian”, including those in Pirin Macedonia (annexed by Bulgaria in 1913); that Bulgaria was a “liberator” of Macedonia in World War II, instead of an occupier and Nazi-Germany ally and; the removal from history books of all documentation of mass murder and war-crimes committed by Bulgaria against Macedonians, including the expulsion of over 7,000 Macedonian Jews to the Treblinka death camp in Poland.

The West’s response? French president Emmanuel Macron unequivocally supported Bulgaria, followed by the EU officially adopting all of Bulgaria’s anti-Macedonian demands (officially known as “The French Proposal”, cementing the French-led latest EU betrayal of human rights) and requiring that Macedonia implement them all before being considered for possible Western-imposed EU membership.

How did Western media respond to Bulgaria’s demands? By referring to Bulgarian politicians’ speeches and calls for Macedonians to be eradicated as “long and emotional” pleas.

Back to the question above: “Why does Western media hate us?”

So, the best case that we’re left with is for Western media to be inadvertently ignorant. Yes, that’s the best case. But ignorance of an issue is no excuse for poor reporting. Ignorance of an issue is a reason for no reporting. If Western media lacks understanding of an issue, they have no right to report on it. The result if they ignore their lessons in Media 101? False information is spread and, in this case, anti-Macedonian hatred is bred. Unlike the rhyme that I couldn’t resist, Western media should resist the temptation to declare its all-knowing authority on every single subject.

What’s the solution to ignorance? Knowledge. How does one acquire knowledge? Research. What are media outlets and journalists literally supposed to be doing? Investigative research. What do they do instead? In addition to regurgitating news off the wire, they repeat the “accepted” narrative. I could go on asking myself these types of questions and answer them all day…

But why was the anti-Macedonian narrative accepted?

Because the West chose to treat Macedonians’ existence as a “diplomatic dispute”, falling — no, jumping — into Greece’s trap. Greece annexed a large part of Macedonia’s territory in 1912/13 and proceeded to kill, expel and forcibly assimilate Macedonians while brutally suppressing the name Macedonia. Suddenly, Greece’s tactics of cultural genocide against Macedonians switched in 1988 when it had the audacity to begin claiming the name Macedonia. Their admitted goal? Claim the name of the oppressed in order to deny that any oppression exists, while publicly proclaiming and celebrating the success of their campaign of cultural genocide.

Instead of condemning Greece, Western media and politicians played along in order to satisfy their own, aforementioned, twisted foreign policy goals and because of their incessant romanticizing of Greece.

This leads to another important lesson in Media 101 — point of view is crucial. Western media start by accepting every claim by Greece as being gospel, including the tragically laughable claim that Macedonia is “Greek” (as opposed to Macedonia being Macedonian) and after generations of Greek claims that Macedonia “doesn’t exist”.

Further, parroting Greece’s claim that it is the “birthplace” of everything and their historically debunked — and dangerous — claims of “cultural purity” and “continuity” with ancient inhabitants of the region enables the notorious superiority complex that is prevalent in Greece. And this comes at the expense of minorities and, in particular, Macedonians.

So, when Western media choose to echo Greece’s foreign policy talking points that the existence of Macedonians “infringes” on Greece’s history, it fuels Greece’s already rampant anti-Macedonian racism, and racism against other ethnic groups. Ironically, Western media claim that combating hatred is a core principle of theirs, so why do they turn a blind eye when it comes to Greece?

To that end, I have filed official complaints through the ombuds of multiple Western media outlets, who have ruled that their (own) coverage did not violate their (own) journalistic rules and that, in essence, I am not “permitted” to be offended by their anti-Macedonian coverage. (Again, don’t worry, this is not the only avenue that we have taken.)

Reading a news article about one’s ethnic group should not be controversial, nor should it contain hate. Look up the headlines that I quoted earlier, or any news story about Macedonia for that matter, and you’ll be bombarded with a never-ending supply of almost identical Western media articles using highly derogatory anti-Macedonian terms and reporting that Macedonians’ identity is “illegitimate”, our history is “fabricated”, our name and identity “belong” to not one, but two or more (how is that even possible?) of our oppressors who want us to cease existing.

Now imagine that it was your ethnic group. You would ask the same question that Macedonians have been asking: “Why does Western media hate us?”

Bill Nicholov, President
Macedonian Human Rights Movement International

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