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as i sit having my morning cup of coffee reading about the conflict in Syria it feels very far away and very other-worldly. For me, the media portray only the elements that emphasise the negatives of differences in culture. People seem more caricatured, more extreme, less in control. This emphasises the need for salvation from the west. It supports the USA with its cavalier, gung-ho approach to world policing. Swift action on little evidence.

For me, the broader debate here is about how difference is constructed on the global stage. A few decades ago I feel that difference of culture was constructed as fascinating, interesting and something to learn from. Something to be delighted in. There is a smack of smoke screening when we talk about our multi-cultural society. Integration is some way off. The change for me is from a position of curiosity about other cultures, and how they are different from that of the observers, to a one of “how are they different and how can we make them more like us”. The media reinforce this. “Look at these hysterical people in this country or that country. Look at these dangerous people carrying weapons in other countries. Look at these out of control people. Not like us are they – we’re in control of our emotions, our destiny… and we must insist they become more like us”. Obviously, it’s not this obvious and in some ways that is worse. But, for me at least, this “be more like us” attitude underpins the USA’s approach to their view of themselves as the worlds authority and moral conscience.

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